Archive for Politics
Vice-President of the European Parliament Intergroup for the islands, Tonino Picula, organized a panel discussion on the islands and hosted representatives of eight small European islands from Croatia, France, Greece and Ireland, in the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday.
The panel, which was held on the occasion of World Water Day, marks the beginning of the project “Water saving challenge” that aims to save water and money on the islands. The project gathers 8 islands from 4 EU Member States (see the map attached). They will use their experience and knowledge for development of mindsets and technologies for saving water and communicate it to the 1,640 islands of ESIN – and others.
“The lack of drinking water affects both islands and coastal communities, and the Water Saving Challenge taps into possibilities of using technology and adjusting human behaviour to save both water and money”, said MEP Tonino Picula.
The project will carry out through the whole year, during which two key events will be held. Meeting of the working group after the field research is set for September on Komiža, island Vis and results will be presented in November, again in the European Parliament in Brussels.
Christian Pleijel with the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, said that “the aim of this project is to prove that we can, as people, islanders, industry, entrepreneurs, teenagers … reduce water consumption and build a project together, by listening to the islander’s solutions. For example, to establish a hotel that would motivate guests to stay in, because it successfully saves water.”
Dr. Christoforos Perakis from the Greek Centre for Renewable Energy emphasized that they plan to make the island Agios Efstratio “the first Greek green island which will get all the energy from renewable sources”. As an excellent example of saving water he announced a new project on the construction of a hybrid power plant that combines the power of wind and water on the island, which makes it completely energy independent.
Mairtin O’Mealoid from the European Federation of small islands (ESIN) with Irish Cape Clear Island announced a major investment of the Irish Government in pipeline, because it turned out that 60 percent of water (11 million liters yearly = 30,000 liters/day) is lost on the way from pumping station to the consumers on the island.
“This project is a result of islanders and politicians working together and therefore I am extremely grateful to MEP Picula for his support and dedication to the project.”
The core team of the “Water saving challenge” project is : MEP Picula, Christian Pleijel and Mairtin O’Mealoid, Anders Nordstrom of the University of Stockholm and Maxime Bredin, representative of the University of Brest. Eight islands included are : Vis and Lastovo, Seine, Houat, Ithaka, Cape Clear, Inisheer and Tilos.
The panel on the islands presented a lot of useful and positive examples of efficient management of water as the most important resource. Discussion pointed that the island’s water resources were often, and for too long, badly ruled and that the islanders were often imposed ineffective solutions, coming from mainland.
Although much still has to be done for efficient and sustainable resolution of the island’s water management, the panelists concluded that the opening of this dialogue between European islands is a significant step forward that will enable better and more effective action for improving life on the islands around the Old continent.
ESIN chair Camille Dressler took part in the CPMR Islands Commission annual general meeting which was hosted on Gozo, Malta’s smaller island, seen above with Kostas Komninos from DAFNI, Joseph Borg, Gozo Chamber of Commerce and a lady from Orkney.
The meeting brought together island regions from the North to the South of Europe to look at the future of Cohesion Policy post-2020. As an observer member, the European Small Islands Federation was extremely pleased to see some very strong principles being reiterated:
– Islands must think globally and act locally
– One size does not dictate all nor add value to a nation
– It is important to bridge the gap between the EU and policies
– It is crucial to get rid of bureaucratic barriers and help micro, small and medium size enterprises through changes to State Aid rules for islands and a rise in De minimis level at least in line with inflation.
– The Cohesion Policy, as a fundamental pillar of EU construction, must act as a forward looking policy bringing EU citizens together
– There must be a new way to look ar shipping issues
– There should be social policies for the islands
– There should be Special funding packages for the islands
– To serve the islands adequately, there must be a place-based approach to the EU Development and Territorial Cohesion Policy.
Island Commission President Vasco Cordeiro: “We MUST SPEAK VERY CLEARLY AND VERY LOUDLY ABOUT THE ISLANDS’ NEEDS, to be an island should nto be a problem but a pillar of development!”
CPRM island Commission secretary Eleni Marianou on the future of the EU: The CPMR needs to make a response to the EU White Paper and respond to the key challenges of competiveness, investment and Territorial Cohesion. It needs a strong voice and think of target audiences: EU institutions, National governments, EU Regions, Citizens and Young People. Response includes making the case for EU cooperation based on CPMR principles of balanced Territorial Principles, solidarity between EU and its regions, championing the position of regions in EU policy-making. CPMR needs to prepare for a strong lobbying campaign prior to and during the EU parliamentary elections in 2018- 2019.
Professor Ioannis Spilanis from the University of Aegean: 5% of EU population live on islands. Their access to the Single market is NOT equal to the access enjoyed by other parts of the EU. Insularity has a negative aspect on businesses and people and Brexit will make it worse by reducing the number of islands in the EU and the overall funding share. EU Sectoral policies are without differentiation. For the islands to realise their potential, EU policies need to include insularity clauses. For this reason, a new island typology is needed. Current indicators are woefully inadequate: new indicators are required to describe the islands situation as the classification used in NUTS2 and NUTS3 is not good enough. (NUTS 3 islands are drowned in the NUTS2 areas). To achieve the EU’s principles of Territorial Cohesion and Sustainability, the development model needs to be changed to include Equal opportunities for the islands and Green island policies.
– We need to communicate what the EU Cohesion Policy stands for.
– We need to provide pertinent examples and make our voices heard for a balanced territorial approach to succeed.
– CPMR’s proposal is for the distribution of funds in NUTS2 areas to be done in a way that favours ESF spending in proportion to the levels of island population: We are asking that the member states offer at least a proportion of their ESF funds to their island population in line with the percentage of population they represent.
MEP MEP Myriam Dalli: Islands need to have a Can do attitude and islands need to access support to realise their ambitions.
Entreprise on islands with INSULEUR president Georgios Benetos: No economy of scale for the islands. Added costs of insularity needs to be taken into account. Access to credit and finance is more complicated. VAT should be lower as it is already on some islands ( Corsica, Heilgoland, no VAT in Faroes). There should be a lower level of taxation for islands to help small and medium enterprises as well as micro-enterprises.
Today, ESIN chair Camille Dressler is taking part in the CPMR Islands Commission annual general meeting on Gozo, see http://cpmr-islands.org/event/cpmr-islands-commission-general-annual-meeting-gozo-mt/
Up for discussion and debate are the island’s case for a post 2020 cohesion policy; islands as pioneers towards energy transission and policy to support island investment, accessibility and entrepreneurship.
Says Camille: “Malta’s EU presidency is intent on re-shaping the EU’s approach to Island issues: today we heard the many ways this will be done, starting with a need to refine Eurostat’s approach to island statistics to ensure sectoral policies are differentiated. We all agreed there is a real need to change the current development model to truly achieve the EU principlesof cohesion and sustainability. The CPMR is working hard to make this happen and we in ESIN are playing our part, alongside Kostas from the Smart Island Declaration, Karen from Orkney Council’s Our islands Our future, and actors on the ground like Joseph Borg from the Gozo Chamber of Commerce!”
As we reported here earlier https://europeansmallislands.com/2016/11/20/island-residents-treated-as-guinea-pigs-says-finnish-newspaper-2/, the Finnish government planned to make big changes in the existing ferry fares system.
Referring to the feedback she has got during the last months, Minster Anne Berner today announced she has decided to call of the planned experiment.
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. Counting by area, it would rank as the 4th nation of Europe, just after Norway. 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. To reengineer these sea transport systems would be an economical, ecological and social revolution.
On a short visit to Malta, ESIN tries to be the voice of Europe’s two thousand small islands in a ‘Public Hearing’ arranged by EESC on the subject ‘What future for islands in the European Union”
I am sad to find Vasilis Margaras much detested study here, where he states that the number of small islands in Europe is 228, but I do comment on it. I am puzzled when the EESC president asks ‘What is the really the difference between an island and the French countryside?”
Luckily, there are many smart persons here to answer such a question: Marie-Antoinette Maupertius from the Committee of Regions (who is working on an opinion on entrepreneurship on islands), George Assonitis from INSULEUR, Malta Minister for Economy Chris Cardona, professor Caroline Buts and Rapporteur Stefano Mallia stating: “This debate on islands is like Brexit: a wake-up call.”
We are some 40 people discussing during three hours. I get the opportunity to speak to Tonino Picula, Vice Chair of the Parliament Intergroup for Islands, and Nektarios Santorinios, Greek Vice Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy, regarding the project on Water Saving on eight european islands that we are about to start.
Much is happening in our european union now, our European Union.