European Small Islands Federation

Islands in space?

Ten hours ago, NASA launched its planet-hunter TESS – the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.

TESS is, simply speaking, a space telescope designed to search for planets outside our solar system (“exoplanets”). It is expected to find more than 20,000 exoplanets, compared to the about 3,800 exoplanets we know of today.


This is not Earth

Led by MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), with funding from Google among others, TESS will survey the brightest stars near the Earth for exoplanets over a two-year period. It uses an array of wide-field cameras to perform an all-sky survey and can define the mass, size, density and orbit of a large cohort of small planets, including which ones of them have water, shores and islands.

It gives quite a new meaning to Google Maps.


Island strategies

To survive in a globalized world where focus is always on economies of scale and low costs, islands can choose between two strategies: n:o 1 (according to Professor Geoff Bertram from New Zealand) is to balance-up their small, slow industries and commerce with income from those that have moved away, alongside support from the public sector. Islands that have managed this strategy well are Kastellorizo in the Mediterranean, Samoa and Tonga in the Pacific Ocean, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Helena and Cape Verde in the Atlantic Ocean.

Strategy n:o 2 (according to Professor Godfrey Baldacchino) is to proactively influence the islands’ own fate in how to handle difficult negotiations over wind power, oil, transportation and taxes. This strategy is directed more at procedure instead of direct subsidies, creating tax havens. Such islands are the Virgin Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man in the Atlantic, the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea, Malta and Cyprus in the Mediterranean.


Now, time has come to October Island, an island in Russia’s European exclave of Kaliningrad, and Russky Island, a former pasture facing the eastern part of Vladivostok , to be part of strategy n:o 2.

Compared to the sunny, palm-lined off-shore tax havens where Russians typically stash their fortunes like Cyprus or the Virgin Islands, two chilly, wind-swept Russian islands would seem to offer little. Yet, they were highlighted by Moscow this week as potential tax havens.

October Island (Oktyabrsky Island /Остров Октябрьский), is immediately east (upriver) of Kaliningrad’s historic centre in the Pregolya River. Since the 2010s the island has been extensively redeveloped around the stadium being constructed for the 2018 FIFA World Cup due to be held in Russia. Will it come true, now that Washington imposes tough sanctions against leading oligarchs?

The island is small, covering about 10 square kilometres. When Kaliningrad was German Köningsberg, it was part of the famous “Seven bridges of Köningsberg” mathematical problem: to devise a walk through the city that would cross each of those bridges once and only once.


Russky Island is much bigger: 976 square kilometres with a population of 5,360, connected with the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge across the Eastern Bosphorus to the mainland portion of Vladivostok.


The Kremlin is trying to get rich Russians to bring their money back home, but is October island and Russky Island really comparable to Gozo and Kökar?

5G Hot Spots on Islands

WiFi4EU - Standard Presentation

Here is a splendid opportunity for all small islands to get a 5G Hot Spot (almost) for free.

The Commission is launching WiFi4EU to make 1,000 municipalities get 5G ”Hot Spots”. They will issue 15,000€ vouchers to municipalities or “associations formed by municipalities”.

1 You have to be registered, first. Do it today!

2 When the call opens (mid-May), be quick to apply. First come, first served!

It is a simple, paperless procedure: (1) Choose ‘main centre of public life’ on the island (2) Choose your installation company. Installation must be done within 18 months (3) Send the voucher to the installation company (4) Commission verifies the Wi-Fi hotspot is operating (5) The installation company redeems the voucher to the Commission (6) Municipality pays for the subscription (that’s why I said it is ”almost” for free).

WiFi4EU hotspot must be operational for 3 years (minimum).

See the presentation attached.


Get your EU login key now


Åland Islands in winter


Islands are often depicted in summer. But Kristin Race from German NDR visited the Åland Islands a few days ago and made this very beautiful film:,sendung756678.html







Will Italy kick out Pantelleria?


Pantelleria is an Italian island situated just 60km from the Tunisian coast and covering a land area of 83 square kilometres. The volcanic island’s natural environment resembles that of Malta but with a population of just over 7,000, it is a much less crowded place.

This has led professor Godfrey Baldacchino to suggest Malta buy the island from Italy to expand its territory.

“Is it time to start thinking seriously about offering to buy Pantelleria from the Republic of Italy. The sister Mediterranean island would absorb the spillover of our economy, which would provide work to the 7,000 or so residents of Pantelleria, while serving as a home to the burgeoning local population in Malta,” Baldacchino says to Malta Today.

He said it was natural for small islands like Malta to reach out and attract resources from elsewhere to support the islanders’ standard of living.

“Immigrants can also contribute to this. If these are economic migrants, then they will stay short-term or as long as the economy is chugging happily along; if so, they may have little interest in ‘integrating’ with the local community,” he said.

Increasing population size by importing foreign labour exerts more pressure on the country’s infrastructure, which Baldacchino believes still leaves much to be desired. Within this context, expanding the island’s territory will help ease the pressure.

Pantelleria, which is administered by the Sicilian province of Trapani, has a common history with Malta, having been ruled by the Romans, Arabs, Normans and Aragonese. The prevalent language until the late 18th centrury was a Siculo-Arab dialect similar to Maltese before it was superseded by Sicilian. Much like in Malta, Pantelleria’s semitic roots are evident in the various place names across the island. The island also has an airport.

Baldacchino said Malta’s annexation of Pantelleria would help resurrect an old relationship between the two islands. “It will also avoid all talk about major land reclamation efforts here which are bound to have grave environmental consequences,” he quipped.

The risk is that Malta’s unbridled development will infect Pantelleria and spoil the untouched natural beauty of an island referred to in touristic brochures as the Mediterranean’s black pearl.

But apart from this, how keen Pantelleria’s residents will be to start calling themselves Maltese is another matter altogether.

It reminds us when Germany and Britain exchanged Helgoland for Zanzibar (“a trouser button for an entire suit”). In 2010, German MP’s Marco Wanderwitz and Frank Schaeffler wanted to buy Corfu (and the Acropolis) to pay off its huge national debt.

What about if France bought Jersey, Guernsey, Sark and Alderney? Shouldn’t Swedish island Ven go back to Denmark? And what about Lemnos, Samothraki, Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Ikaria and all the Dodecanese islands?

American author Libba Bray wrote: “People think boundaries and borders build nations. Nonsense–words do. Beliefs, declarations, constitutions–words. Stories. Myths. Lies. Promises. History.

The brain is a muscle which needs to be strechted sometimes. Thank you for that, professor Baldacchino.


World Water Day

Today is World Water Day

Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelöf wrote about two water sources, one on the island of Tjörn, one on the island of Mörkö. Summertime, five vessels are carried to the first one: “a celadon cup, an East Indian blue white pelvis, a silver beaker, an old glass of ground gilt, a wide and bulky bowl of tin. They are lowered into the source to get the cold of the water. “You drink from the five vessels, one after another, deliberately, artfully.

To the second source, you do not need to bring any vessel. “An old cup, with a brown crack” hangs in its ear on a branch.

I have just finalized a freshwater project. It included eight islands: two in Greece, Croatia, France and Ireland, respectively. It has gone well, it is a source of sustainability and work satisfaction. Now, lectures are waiting, four new projects are lining up.

In the first source I see water as a culture, as an artifact. It makes me think of how we use water, of wells, pipes, pumps, chlorine, sewers and cycles. Law, technology, cost, supply and demand. Complex, elaborated..

In the second one, I only see the water. The fountainhead of life.


Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

This quote, often (falsely) attributed to Winston Churchill, fits well to special advisor Brendan Devlin’s ambitions for the meeting arranged in Brussels on the 5-6th of March 2018. The topic was the clean energy for EU Islands Initiative, the purpose was to listen to the islanders and Brendan Devlin has a particular interest in the EU islands’ potential for faster decarbonisation.

DG ENER’s vision is to speed up the EU countries’ move from fossil fuel dependency and they are starting with the islands.

15 million

Setting up a secretariat

Anna Colucci, Head of unit DG ENER opened the meeting which was attended by about 30 participants, representing both islands and EU institutions. How can we make the decarbonizing of all European the islands work? was the question asked, considering that islands are now seen as innovation leaders in this field. The Commission will set up a Clean Energy Islands Secretariat in Brussels. The 2 year secretariat with a budget of 2 millions will carry out benchmarking studies, awareness rasing and capacity building for islands decarbonization plans.

After this period, the intention is to replace the secretariat with an Island Facility through a tender or call within Horizon 2020 which will be worth 10 Millions euros.

A holistic view on energy

It was stressed that the energy concept covers energy in a broad and holistic perspective: it means heating, cooling, electricity, transport on islands and to and from islands as well as blue energy.  It is important not isolate energy from other issues, but to find and use synergies. “Good solutions are welcomed, not only future solutions”, said Brendan Devlin . “What is better might not be what is best, it has to be better than today´s situation.” Highlighting best practice being very important, to that end, presentations from the island of Öland’s biogas scheme and the ambitious wind and desalination schemes in the Canaries were made which elicited very good feedback.

Speakers from DG ENER, DG REGIO, DG CLIMA, DG INNOVATION AND RESEARCH DG ENVIRONMENT, all contributed their various perspectives, including simplification for administrations for new projects (where ESIN has been active) and the obligatory task for member states to have a One-Place-Stop for contacts/new projects.

Small islands are included

The issue of the smaller islands not being visible at NUTS level is taken into consideration as within the NUTs area definition there are only 700 islands when there in fact are 2,000 more, making a total of 2,700.

Denis & Camille.jpg

Denis Bredin and Camille Dressler, ESIN

What do islands want?

The islands were asked what were their main issues:

– ESIN, represented by chairman Camille Dressler and Denis Bredin from AIP/France, said the smaller island communities perspective is really important, making sure smaller renewable energy suppliers had access to the market and were able to reap the benefits locally.

– From the Netherlands, how to involve the user side of the energy issues was the question, It was not all about the supplier.

– The Balearic islands explained their plans for the further development of their ecotourism tax and a goal of total decarbonization by 2050 hampered by lack of national political will.

– The Greek islands would like DG ENER to consider microfinance and project consultation for smaller projects not just big ones as in Horizon2020 as a number of islands are very small and do not have the resources to participate in large projects.

– Storage was the main issue for the Azores.

– Cyprus wanted to see more cooperation between citizens and local authorities.

– The Faroes islands want to decarbonize their fishing fleet.

We appreciated DG ENER’s will to sit down and listen. This two-way discussion was promising, and another meeting is planned after the summer which will include a travel budget. In the meantime, DG ENER wants to hear from as many islands associations and organisations as possible.

There is a difference between listening and just waiting for your turn to speak. Thank you Brendan.

Brendan Devlin

Brendan Devlin, DG ENER