ESIN

European Small Islands Federation

MEPs urge the Commission to address island handicaps

This photo taken on February 8, 2011 shows people walking in front of the European Union Commission building at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

MEPs urge the European Commission to take concrete steps to address the permanent handicaps that EU islands face and make full use of their potential, in a resolution voted on Thursday. The text also stresses the unique difficulties that southern insular regions face due to the increased migration flows and asks that special tax regimes should continue.

MEPs list the actions that they want the Commission to take to address the unique and vulnerable situation of EU islands. The resolution calls on the Commission to:

  • set up “a homogenous group made up of all island territories”, based on EU Treaty Article 174, which recognises the permanent handicaps of insular regions,
  • take account of other statistical indicators, besides GDP, which will reflect the economic and social vulnerability of these regions,
  • launch an in-depth study/analysis in the extra costs incurred as a result of being an island (e.g. transport system, energy supply and access to markets),
  • establish an “EU Strategic Framework for Islands” which would link up instruments that could have a major territorial impact, and
  • submit a communication on an “Agenda for EU Islands” and subsequently a White Paper to monitor the development of islands.

Islands exposed to migration flows

Parliament stresses that EU islands are also peripheral regions on the EU’s external borders. The southern areas and the many Mediterranean islands are particularly exposed to increased migration flows. MEPs ask for an EU-wide approach, “which should include EU support and a joint effort by all member states”, to help them.

Special tax regimes should continue

MEPs approved an amendment stressing “the importance of special tax arrangements for local communities and economies”- some EU islands have been granted special tax arrangements to counterbalance their permanent natural and demographic handicaps – and “calling for their continuation, especially in those member states that are under economic adjustment programmes”.

Resolution on the role of regional authorities

In a separate resolution voted on Thursday, MEPs ask that regional and local authorities be given a bigger role in managing EU structural and investment funds in 2014-2020, to help boost their impact.

See http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20160129IPR11941/EU-islands-call-for-action-to-overcome-permanent-handicaps, which also has a video link to the deabte and another link to the Think Tank on the islands of Europe: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_BRI%282016%29573960.

The page states there are 590 EU islands, 228 of which are very small, with fewer than 50 inhabitants, referring to Eurostat. Well. not too bad, although ESIN is 1,392 inhabited islands not including Germany, Holland, Spain, Portugal and Norway, to name a few.

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