ESIN

European Small Islands Federation

Archive for Politics

“Islands are closed systems in need of an integrated approach.”

Wioletta-2.jpgWhen in Favignana for the Greening the Islands 2017, we met with Wioletta Dunin-Majewska who is a Policy Coordinator at the European Commission’s DG Energy, and a colleague of Brendin Devlin, well-known for us at ESIN.

She made a presentation entitled “clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative”, which we would like to briefly retell:

The Clean Energy Package is DG Energy’s biggest package ever. It comprises 8 legislative proposals under discussion in the Council and the Parliament.

The goal is for the EU to become a low carbon economy via transition of its energy system by:

– putting energy efficiency first

– achieving global leadership in renewable energies

– providing a fair deal for consumers

This package was presented by commissioner Marie Donnelly during the FOP22 meeting in  Marrakech on 14th of November 2016. She said: ”islands are in the package”, and we could the Commission urged the Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank to consider that “islands and island regions provide platforms for pilot initiatives on clean energy transition and can serve as showcases at international level” (Work Programme Annex dated 30.11.2016).

This was followed by the Malta Declaration on May 17, where the Commission and 14 member States agreed to launch the “Clean Energy for Islands” initiative which will accelerate the clean energy transition on EU’s 2,700 islands, help islands reduce dependency and costs of energy imports by using RES, embrace modern and innovative energy systems, and improve air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

At the Chania Inaugural Forum in Crete September 22, 2107, there was an overwhelming endorsement on highest ecehelon. The Package has thus move through the European political machine in just 10 months, which is a speed record.

https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/events/clean-energy-all-european-islands-inaugural-forum

The package is becoming more and more tangible. Islands are seen as innovation leaders. They can demonstrate how decarbonisation creates resilient energy systems, create new jobs and foster economic development.

The goal is ambitious: to decarbonise 1,000 island by 2030.

There will be a secretariat for the initiative to help launching decarbonisation plans on islands, host a stakeholder’s exchange platform, as well as organise yearly forums. An islands facility will be set up to support comprehensive energy transitions in preparatory and implementation phase under Horizon 2020, which will be the source of funding, both for making plans and to finance actions. DG Energy talks of a 2-directional approach: some 10 front-runners, and bottom-up partnership with national and regional organisations of islands.

Wioletta said: – “Islands are closed systems in need of an integrated approach.”

Favignanan Castle-1Favignana sunset

Hellenic Small Islands Network

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Greek nature is abundant and rich, as reflected in the variety of local crops and goods produced on the small Greek islands. Their agro-food items —although produced in limited quantities— are distinguished by their high quality. These superior products can therefore be included in gourmet categories. Realistically, production and sales of local agro-grain products from many small Greek Islands have the potential for further development.

The Hellenic Network of Small Islands – HSIN – has begun to track local products of the small islands. Their goal is to map and promote local products to enhance our islands’ profile and to increase public awareness of the valuable resources our islands produce.

The transfer of know-how from other national or European regions —with similarly successful examples— is vital in the effort to in facilitate the selection of the right processes needed to strengthen the agro-food market sector.

The social economy of the small islands is crucial to this endeavor. HSIN has researched and conducted studies on this significant subject including: study of the institutional framework of social enterprises; microcredit development study for women; microcredit business office operating plan; social economy guide; social economy study; promotion of corporate social responsibility and sponsoring the social economy in island regions; planning study and monitoring system organization; study for the development and promotion of financial instruments with particular emphasis on microcredit; study recording business operations and third sector bodies in island regions; study for the creation of an observation center for the monitoring and recording of the social economy sector in the island regions; study for the creation of an island network – a social economy observation centre; organization of workshops on specialized topics for potential and existing entrepreneurs; training of potential and existing entrepreneurs etc. It is an implementation of one of the largest projects in the Equal development partnership, called Telemachos.

Another important factor for the agro-food chain of the smaller islands, is the development of production infrastructure, and packaging and sales to markets beyond the island. Today, in some small islands, production and distribution is still in its infancy and the involvement of the state should be apparent, lasting and supportive.

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The Hellenic Small Island Network is a Non-Profit organization with members comprised mainly of island municipalities with a population of less than 5,000.

It was founded in 2007 and operates throughout Greece (North Aegean, South Aegean, Ionian, Argosaronic, Sporades islands etc).

The mission of HSIN is to develop the human and social resources of the islands. To this end, HSIN seeks to support the societies and municipalities of the small islands in all matters relating to their development, including Greek administration and the European Union.

HSIN are members of:

The Island Policy Council, which is under the authority of the Prime Minister

The Pan-European Federation of Small Island Networks.

The Yacht Transport Council

The Project Management Team of the General Secretariat of the Aegean and Island Policy

The Bureau of the Council of Social Control of ERT (Greek Radio Broadcasting)

HSIN is a member of the Monitoring Committees NSRF 2007-2013 in the Regions of North Aegean, South Aegean, Ionian, Peloponnese and Western Greece. HSIN participates in the consultation of the New NSRF 2001-4-2020 as a social partner and member of the Monitoring Committees for the Ionian Region.

HSIN has implemented European programs, participated in legislative discussions in Parliament, and have shown our continuous presence since the Council’s founding. At European Union level, it has participated in actions and consultations concerning the small islands and have excellent cooperation with all the coordinating bodies of the European Commission and European Parliament.

HSIN is a registered member of the EU Transparency Register. Its delegations have often participated in various activities (conferences, seminars or meetings) in Brussels and continue to be a member – observer of key European bodies supporting island policy. It is an institutional interlocutor with the European Commission of Insular and Coastal Areas, Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions.

And, as the readers of this blog are well aware of. HSIN has the Vice-Presidency of ESIN – the European Federation of Small Islands, through its president Eleftherios Kechagioglou.

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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

We found our favorite MEP

For a week, we have been voting through SurveyMonkey to find our favorite MEP. Now, we have a distinct winner to the MEPAwards, category “Regional Development”:

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This is our written nomination:

This nomination is from an organisation, namely the European Small Islands Federation. We represent 359,000 islanders on 1,640 European islands. To have MEP’s who take a stand for the small islands of Europe is of utter importance to us. We need MEP’s who are not only fighting for their own (national) islands, but who are a watchdogs for all islands of Europe.

To find this person, we made a simple poll, see https://europeansmallislands.com/2017/10/28/our-favourite-mep/. During a week, we collected votes from our members.

Tonino Picula got 42 out of 55 votes.

Let us quote three of the motivations: “Driving force behind some of the important structural changes in EU regarding all European islands”, “He is the one doing the most for all small islands” and “He is the only true and persistent islands MEP”.

This a man who does much for all islands, not only his Croatian ones. We ESIN are proud to nominate him as an outstanding developer of the region of the islands.

Our favourite MEP

I do I have I am 1

There are 751 members of the European Parliament – MEP’s. They were elected in 2014 and are now passing laws, deciding on international agreements, reviewing the work the Commssion is doing and proposing legislation. In Brussels, they are the voice of more than 500 million Europeans – old, young, men, women, urban, hillbillys, conservatives, radicals… but are they also the voice of the islanders?

The Parliament is actually asking us – the Europeans – to nominate an MEP that has made an outstanding contribution in an EU policy area. No later than November, 8.

Should ESIN nominate an MEP who has done much for the islands?

If so, who should it be?

Who is the islands watchdog in the European Parliament?

One way of judging MEPs is to look at the parliamentary questions raised by them. Since they were elected 2014, up until today the MEPs have raised thousands and thousands of written and oral questions which one can find here http://eur-lex.europa.eu/collection/eu-law/parl-questions.html.

We made a search and fund that 449 questions included the word “island”. When running a check on these 449, we discovered that most of them deal with national issues. Like the refugee situation in the Aegean Sea, the future of wind power on the Åland islands, or whale hunting in the Faroes. These are very important questions, but not common small island issues, not a reason to give them an ESIN island watchdog nomination.

Among the 449 questions, 19 were about common European island issues. Here they are:

– Neoklis Sylikiotis (Cyprus) regarding free wireless connectivity in EU’s local communities (islands included);

– Claudia Tapardel (Roumania) on the special situation of islands in the European Union;

– Alfred Sant (Malta), Salvatore Cicu (Italy), Tonino Picula (Croatia), Michela Giuffrida (Italy), Costas Mavrides (Cyprus) and Miltiadis Kyrkos (Greece) raising the question of the EU’s regional competitiveness index and island regions;

– Giovanni La Via (Italy) on the special situation of islands;

– Gabriel Mato (Spain) on strengthening the regions of Macaronesia (well, not all of the European islands but still a region);

– Lefteris Christoforou​ (Cyprus) on the need to assist islands affected by water shortages, and on the need to support the island regions of the EU, and on problems associated with insularity;

– Rosa Estaràs Ferragut (Spain) on energy poverty in island regions, and promotion of renewable energies in the tourism industry of islands;

– Salvatore Cicu (Italy) on the recognition of the special situation of islands;

– Iskra Mihaylova (Bulgaria) on insularity conditions, and also on island regions;

– Matt Carthy (Ireland) on island products;

– Soledad Cabezón Ruiz (Spain) on self-consumed energy on islands​;

– Ole Christensen (Denmark) on payments to farmers on islands not connected by a bridge and residence obligation;

– Ivan Jakovčić (Croatia) on sparsely populated islands (well, he is mainly addressing Croatian islands);

– Therese Comodini Cachia (Malta) on coastal and maritime ecotourism, and island connectivity;

– Biljana Borzan (Croatia) on islands’ equal access to health protection;

We cannot judge which of these questions have actually led to improvements for the islands.

You can check on any MEP here http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/map.html

There are a few MEP’s who are generally and constantly working for improvement of island conditions and who have been actively in contact with us. Here are four names:

Alyn Smith (Scotland), active in the insularity condition debate Feb 2016, participated in ESIN’s AGM on Mull back in 2012, very active in agricultural questions (including islands).

Tonino Picula (Croatia), chair of islands subgroup in SEARICA Intergroup, active in the water savings challenge with ESIN as a partner, driving force in establishing special financial instruments for islands.

Matt Carthy (Ireland) attended the Island food event that ESIN organised, actively promoting island products.

Maria Spyrakis (Greece) has organized many open hearings and round table discussions in Brussels on smart energy programmes such as SMILEGOV and the European policy for transport.

You are most welcome to propose other names but please do not promote MEP’s who have made an important job for your islands, but for all islands.

This is the link to where you can vote: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/77XHTFV

I Do I Have I Am 2

Illustrations by Saul Steinberg, 1971

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.”

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#SmallislesThinkbig

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‘Small Islands are “the agents of change”  that can be trusted to make the low carbon revolution happen in Europe’ declared Brendan Devlin, Special adviser to DG Energy,  at the17th  AGM and annual Conference of the European Small Islands Federation.  It was held in Orkney islands on 11-13 September, and contributed an afternoon of talks on the theme of the Smart Islands for the prestigious Orkney International Science Festival.

The Orkney islands are well-known for their cutting edge leadership in Renewable technology, and on Tuesday 12 September, 32 islanders from 13 countries in Europe visited the small island of Shapinsay – 300 inhabitants where a local development trust was set up to bring income to the islanders through wind power. Their wind turbine, “Whorley”  brings  £90 000 annually to be spent on community projects, running a free minibus and electric taxi for islanders and visitors, and a 12 seats ‘out of hours’ ferry to allow islanders more flexibility in their travel to and from Orkney mainland. “ The quality of community engagement is really remarkable here ” enthused delegates from Greece and Brittany, “This is an inspiration to all our island communities.”

Mairtin O Mealoid of Comharchumann Chleire, the island development Cooperative of Cape Clear and Vice Chair of Comhdhail Oilean na hEireann the Irish Islands Federation said ” coming to Orkney and Discovering the Orkney food and produce brand as well as the Danish Island Produce brand was an inspiration. As a small island food producer myself, I am pleased that we are looking to introduce a similar designation for the producers in our small European islands. We have established a working group and intend to have an islands brand up and running in the near future. This will identify authentic island products that meet agreed criteria and will help with marketing and of course additional employment in the food and drink sectors on the islands”….

Best of all, was the quality of the exchanges between islanders from all corners of Europe. They found they had much in common in terms of opportunities and challenges. Discussing these in a formal as well as an informal setting felt to be of huge benefit: “Whenever we meet, we always learn something from each other” says Pia Prost, from FÖSS, the Finnish Southern archipelago, “by developing projects in small clusters and comparing results, we can advance by leaps and bounds.” Camille Dressler, Leader of the Scottish Islands Federation, who was re-elected as ESIN chair said: “We will be taking these results to Brussels next year and in the meantime, we will continue to push for the needs of the smaller islands of Europe to be recognised and addressed, especially in the context of the Territorial Cohesion Policy post 2020 and Brexit.

Camille Dressler, chairman of ESIN