ESIN

European Small Islands Federation

Archive for People

Swedish islands periodical turns 10

We have a soft spot for genuine islands journals – not touristic glossy magazines, but low-key, locally produced periodicals done by the islanders for the islanders.

Swedish “Vi skärgårdsbor” (=We islanders) has just issued its 40th number and has thus been published for 10 years. Congratulations!

N.o 40 contains a nice reportage from Kökar by Eva Widlund, the ever engaged, energetic and irreplaceable editor of the periodical. Thanks Eva.

Sorry for some of you guys, it is only in Swedish.

Vi Skärgårdsbor_nr3_2017_Kökar-1Vi Skärgårdsbor_nr3_2017_Kökar-17Vi Skärgårdsbor_nr3_2017_Kökar-18Vi Skärgårdsbor_nr3_2017_Kökar-19

The 2017 3rd European Rural Parliament

A Rural Parliament is a forum established in the 1990’s to give the rural population of a nation a voice. First established in Sweden 28 years ago (1989), then in Swedish-speaking Finland (1990), Estonia (1996), Hungary (1998), Slovakia (2001), Netherlands (2005), Slovenia (2011), Romania (2012) and Scotland, whose first Rural Parliament was held in Oban in November 2014.

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This is bottom-up politics, quite the opposite of big-scale European decision making processes we have been accustomed to since the forming of the European Union. A Rural Parliament is used to discuss and debate, to influence policy and practice. There is a rapidly growing number of local initiatives in both towns and countryside and there is need to strengthen the vitality and networks of rural areas throughout Europe. European Rural Parliament websites: www.europeanruralparliament.com and www.erp2017.eu.

The 3rd European Rural Parliament met at Venhorst, in the Netherlands, in late October. It was attended by 250 rural citizens from 40 countries, whereof inside the EU: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the four nations of the United Kingdom, and outside the EU: Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. Impressive!

European Rural Manifesto 2017   The Venhorst Declaration 2017

This Rural Parliament issued the Venhorst Declaration, calling for a new unified basis for funding of local development. This would bring together a significant slice of the four European Funds – Rural, Regional, Social and Maritime – into a fund for Community Led Local Development, managed in a unified way at European and national levels. These combined funds should then be deployed on a decentralised basis through LEADER groups and other local partnerships. This will generate the energy of local people and organisations working together, and encourage action suited to the very varied needs of each place.

The Declaration also focuses on other key current issues in rural Europe. Participants at Venhorst applauded the successful holding of the first European Rural Youth Parliament in August 2017 and urged public authorities to ensure that young people can take part in funded programmes.

ESIN took part in the 1st European Rural Parliament in Brussels 4 years ago. This year, we were represented by our Chair Camille Dressler.  For the next Parliament in 2 years time, we must make sure the islands have a strong presence, with for example as many islands as possible represented in the “market of initiatives” session. One way to ensure this happens would be to have ESIN involved as a partner organisation.

Camille 22 Oct

Skärgård magazine no 160

Ledare 1-2

Every European island flaunts its assets in glossy magazines, typically written by journalists and photographers spending a week or two in the island’s holiday landscape. Luckily, there is also another kind of island magazines, written by the islanders themselves, sometimes with the help of researchers, dealing with the island culture, history, lifestyle, infrastructure and politics. Such magazines were briefly described here in July 2016.

One of these is the superb magazine Skärgård (= Archipelago), which has just published its 160th (!) issue, with Pia Prost as editor.

The issue starts with a clever editorial by Pia Prost entitled “Mankind is not an island” and continues with articles on sustainability, biogas, fishing, hybrid ferry Elektra, recent disputations, island loos and a very interesting article entitled “Meeting the challenges of Europe’s small islands” by Camille Dressler. We had no idea Camille masters the Swedish language so well (maybe she had some help from Pia?). She gives examples from her own island Eigg, stressing the importance of sharing island stories with happy endings.

Another article is on Simskäla, which was ESIN’s runner-up for the EUSEW 2017 award: “On Simskäla, from different angles” for example “top down or bottom up”, “on or in an island”, “seen from here and seen from there”. Simskäla did not win the EUSEW prize this year (Tilos did, well deserved!) but the Energy Globe Foundation in Austria is urging us to apply for Simskäla to run for their 2018 Energy Globe Award.

Get your own copy here: https://www.cll.fi/projekt/skargard/tidskriften-skargard/.

Dressler

Simskäla-artikel

This island is not for sale

Eigg islanders

Long read on Eigg in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/26/this-island-is-not-for-sale-how-eigg-fought-back. Quote: “Small islands are like celebrities: they loom far larger than their actual size, they are pored over by visitor-fans and they become public possessions, laden with reputations and attributes they may or may not embody.”

Laundry

Public Hearing on entrepreneurship on islands

     

ESIN is proud to announce that we will collaborate with INSULEUR and EESC in organizing a Public Hearing on Entrepreneurship on Islands in Brussels on June,2

It is a follow-up of the “Smart Island” and “Inclusive Island” initiatives adopted by the EESC and the opinion on “Entrepreneurship on Islands: contributing towards territorial cohesion”, to be adopted by the Committee of Regions next May.

Background: As we esiners know, most of our SMEs are micro-enterprises – with fewer than ten employees – which produce and produce a large part of the economic value in islands. Craft professions – carpenter, butcher, baker, roofer, metal worker or information technician – are at the heart of islands communities. They produce mainly within their local base, ensure jobs and vocational training for young and old, and make an essential contribution to innovation in the European economy. Craft and small enterprises face particular problems due to their small size and limited resources. The globalisation of the economy and enlargements of the EU have also considerably changed the challenges that these enterprises face. Starting up a new business and getting the required capital is a challenge, as is finding the right kind of finance to expand an established business. Due to their limited resources and remoteness they suffer more from red tape and administrative burdens than mainland enterprises.

Objective: the public hearing will examine if existing policies and tools to support SMEs are sufficient for insular SMEs or some new tools or mechanism, mentioned also in the opinions, are needed to help these companies to tackle  obstacles and participate on a equal foot in the integration process and assure therefore a level playing field.

The program is attached.

http://www.insuleur.org/pagina.php?Cod_fam=3

Public hearing EESC June 2

The 11th Nation

11th-nation-1d

At the EESC Public Hearing 7th of February, Croatian MEP Tonino Picula mentioned that the islands of Europe, if grouped together, would rank as Europe’s ninth nation. I double-checked him, making a table based on Wikipedia, from which I excluded islands that are nations (Great Britain, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta) but included all the remaining 2.136 ones, summing up their areas and their populations.

The result is a complex, widespread, divided, illusive island nation with an area of 454,753 km2 and with 18,889,077 inhabitants. Were it a nation, it would population-wise place itself after Romania but before Kazakstan[1]. Counting by area, it would rank as the 4th nation of Europe, just after Norway[2]. Assuming humans are more important than land, the islands of Europe grouped together would rank as the number 11 among the 50 sovereign states of Europe. Were it a nation, it might be called ISLANDIA.

Is this 11th nation of Europe different from the other 28 nations of Europe? Yes: it has some very valuable assets: (1) shores, that attract hundreds of millions of tourists every year; (2) seas, that contain tides, waves, oil, gas, fish, motorways of the seas as well as more ordinary waterways; (3) unrivalled natural and cultural heritages.

This 11th imaginary nation also has an invisible obstacle surrounding it: remoteness – a permanent handicap causing extra costs for its small-scale societies, enterprises and inhabitants. There are 671 ro-pax ferries connecting the islands with the mainland. On the one thousand smaller islands, 38% of the total energy spent is used for sea transports, larger islands somewhat less[3]. To reengineer these sea transport systems would be an economical, ecological and social revolution.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_countries_by_population

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_countries_by_area

[3] https://europeansmallislands.com/smilegov/

the-11th-nation-esin

Island Mayors honoured

spyridon-galinos-giusi-nicolini

On January 30, island Mayors Spyridon Galinos (Lesbos) and Giusi Nicolini (Lampedusa and Linosa) received the Olof Palme prize 2016.

http://www.palmefonden.se/category/prize-recipients/

Both are in Stockholm to receive the prize, hailed for their inspiring leadership, for having saved thousands of refugees and for showing it is more important to protect people than the protect borders.

Nicolini and Galinos tells of the often overcrowded inflatables with terrified, frozen passengers who started coming to their islands. In Lampedusa it culminated in connection with the Arab Spring, in 2011 when over 25,000 people arrived in two months. In Lesbos, the first boats came in winter 2014-2015.

The lack of timely support from their own governments and the EU forced the two mayors to organise care for thousands of refugees – and at the same time calm their local communities. Spyridon Galinos did not sleep many hours a night during the first ten months of 2015, when approximately 400,000 fugitives came ashore on Lesbos. slept.

– We had to stay calm. I spoke a lot with my islanders about wars and conflicts leading to situations which are not the refugees’ fault, says Galinos. Much of what we saw was shocking: mothers with small children and people cried and kissed the ground. But knowing that we saved lives gave us power.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/lesbos-mayor-spyridon-galinos-how-i-am-coping-with-up-to-7000-new-refugees-each-day-a6707696.html

The situation is different today. EU agreement with Turkey has resulted in fewer boats coming to Lesbos. 5500 migrants on the island is manageable and Galinos is proud of the accommodation which local forces operate. Nicolini has gone a round with her own government to get the neighboring islands of Lampedusa and Linosa recognized as the first reception centers, where no refugees should stay longer than a week.  Both warn that the number of unaccompanied children is high.

Both are critical of the restrictive refugee policies in the EU and the “moral dark time” that prevails. At present they rely on working locally and through a network of European mayors who seems to have their hearts in the right place.