Another article in local media:
Tourist tax and energy on island meeting
ESIN has had its annual gathering on Åland. In Mariehamn, a meeting was held with Åland Minister of Trade and Industry Fredrik Karlström and Minister of Infrastructure Veronica Thörnroos. The ministers presented the organisation and task of the so-called Archipelago Committee and the planned system change in sea transports. The European visitors wanted to know why there are so many governance levels on Åland.
The discussion on sea transports included examples from Denmark and Replot in Finland.
The system of tourist taxes on the island of Ischia and on the Balearic Islands were presented.
The chair of Åland Healthcare Mia Hanström also attained the meeting.
Next year, delegates from island ranging from 8 to 60.000 inhabitants will meet again, presumably in Greece. Christian Pleijel is a member of the ESIN board as a representative of Foretagsam Skargard on Åland.
– We have spent three rewarding days and are happy that representatives of different sectors on Åland could join us, says Pleijel.
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Today, media in Åland have reported from our Annual General meeting. The largest newspaper – Ålands tidningen – has the following article on page 16:
Here’s what the article says, in English:
Islands want to spread knowledge to decisionmakers in the EU
The 1,300 small islands in Europe see an advantage in exchanging experiences.
This week, the organization ESIN gathered in Åland with delegates from several of the islands.
EUROPE European Small Islands Federation ESIN represents a total of 469,000 islanders. This week, it held its thirteenth annual meeting, passing two days in Kökar and one in Mariehamn.
– Every year we organize a physical annual meeting, in between we meet on telephone. The idea is that we should focus on things that happened and what is going on. And we start some new initiatives , says Bengt Almqvist who is chairman of the ESIN and lives in the St. Anna archipelago in Östergötland archipelago.
ESIN is active in two main areas: first, inwards to strengthen the islands’ cultural identity by sharing their experiences and help each other with problem solving.
– For example, many apply EU rules in different ways on different islands. We can compare and learn from each other’s experiences.
To influence politicians
Then,we work on a European level by informing the relevant EU institutions , parliamentarians and others in the Union on the importance of taking care of the islands’ interests.
An important task is to get attention. Many know who ESIN are and we are invited and may be heard. It is always an advantage to be in the beginning of a process rahter than to come in and make a row in the middle of it, says Bengt Almqvist .
This is particularly relevant now since there are European Parliament elections next year.
Our member islands ensure that candidates hear our arguments so they know what they need to do in Parliament. Island intergroups is also important to work with. We are a small group and do not represent sa many votes, but we have many friends.
A dream scenario, according to Bengt Almqvist, would be that knowledge of the islands were included in the decision processes. This was granted through an important step in the Lisbon Treaty which includes article 174, stating that in the development of Europe there has to be a consideration of less favoured areas, such as islands. This gives us a tool in the legislation, but it is blunt and we must learn to use it.
Learning about energy
ESIN ‘s project Smilegov focuses on renewable energy. It includes enabling the islands to develop sustainable energy action plans . The project is attracting the Italian island of Ischia off the Italian Naples coast.
– We are here to look deeper into this project and hope to be involved in the program , says Jonathan Taglialatela .
He is a delegate along with Vincenzo D’ Acunto and participates only in the annual meeting’s final day.
– It is great to share knowledge of common problems and learn to avoid future ones, says Jonathan Taglialatela .
– We hope to arrange a meeting in Ischia on alternative energy next year.
Åland’s representative in ESIN is Christian Pleijel . The delegates, coming from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Scotland , Sweden and Åland also met with the Åland Archipelago Board, local politicians and officials during the visit.
Under the picture is the following text:
ESIN held its annual meeting in Åland in the week and met politicians and the Archipelago Board. From left Minister Fredrik Karlstrom (Ob) , Ilias Efthymiopoulos from Dafni, Vicenzo D’Acunto and Jonathan Taglialatela from the Italian island Ischia, Bengt Almqvist from St. Anna archipelago and Christian Pleijel from Åland.