Islanders from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Ireland and Scotland got together in Brussels on 24-26 September to look at the themes and actions that are of importance to them: how to engage with the newly established Clean Energy EU islands Secretariat, Sustainable mobility for the islands, the future of CAP post 2020, the New European Maritime Fisheries Fund and its support of Small scale fisheries, the future of Territorial Cohesion Policy, the interface between Smart Islands and Smart Villages, getting involved in the European Rural Parliament, and how to get the European Small Islands’ voice better heard in Brussels.
An ambitious programme spread over three packed days, ending with visits to various countries’ MEPs in the parliament building. A tour of the excellent Parliamentarium nearby was optional and those that were able to visit thoroughly appreciated it.
The AGM offered plenty of time to catch up on current projects and common issues. A new issue which was eloquently presented by Ireland was that of island secondary education and the need to see it better supported by national governments.
Ireland and Sweden also reported on the progress of a fact finding mission on island food branding that took Martin O Méalóid and Anette Larm Johannson to Danish Islands to meet producers.
Scotland’s delegate Camille Dressler was re-elected as Chair and Irish Delegate John Walsh was also re-elected as vice chair. This year’s AGM was conspicuous by the absence of our southern partners, but with mayoral elections looming in Greece in particular, it was not easy for HSIN to send delegates. This did not prevent Eleftherios Kachagioulou from being re-elected as vice chair. A new northern vice-chair was appointed: Pia Prost from Finland. “It is important to have representation from the south, north and west of Europe” explained Camille, “if we can all take it in turn to represent ESIN at key events, it will be easier achieving the stronger ESIN presence in Brussels that we have decided upon at the AGM.
ESIN’s Chair was able to share her favourite Brussels food haunts with ESIN delegates, from traditional Syrian to bier gastronomy! As to Danish delegate Ove Axelsen, he was able to celebrate his birthday with a proper Belgian pint at la Mort Subite, a classic Belgian brasserie!
Camille Dressler lives on the Isle of Eigg in Scotland and is Chair of ESIN. She is Chair of the Small Isles Community Council and a former Director of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust. Camille also runs the island’s craft shop. A leading light in the community on the island, she is also an avid promoter and social entrepreneur. Camille has written a book on her adopted home place: Eigg: The Story of an Island