Origins and aims
From a Network to a Federation
The European Small islands Federation is the fruit of a successful cooperation between small islands communities. In May 2001, six national organisations representing small islands communities decided to gather within a network : the European Small Islands Network composed of Danish, Finnish, French, Irish, Scottish and Swedish small islands was born. In 2005, the six founding members of ESIN decided to formalise the network. Statutes were approved and the European Small Islands Federation came into being however the name “ESIN” remains to design the federation. ESIN progressively made it known amongst islands communities and three new organisations joined ESIN in 2006 : the Association of Estonian Islands, the Association of Italian Minor Islands and the Hellenic Small Islands Network. In 2009, the Åland Islands became a member of ESIN and in 2014, the Croatian Islands http://www.otocnisabor.hr/ joined.
Each country has its own definition of a “small island” according to geographical and administrative criterions, local culture and traditions, etc… However, small islands agreed on common features : there are home for permanent communities, they are surrounded by water and generally have no permanent links with the mainland. Unlike the members of the CPMR Islands Commission, they are not Regional Islands of Europe. Having said this, there are 1,638 small islands among ESIN members, which represents about 355,000 inhabitants. Even though many of them have population of less than 1.000 inhabitants, small islands population can run from few to several thousands inhabitants but they are still motivate by the same will to cooperate and to inform people of their specific common issues.
Aims of ESIN
ESIN main objective is to help small islands communities remaining alive. To this end, ESIN acts at two levels :
1 Local level : ESIN aims at strenghtening islands cultural identity, facilitating the circulation of information between its members. It allows comparison on how diiferent countries cope with issues and it gives suport to each other through the sharing of knowledge.
2 European level : ESIN also aims at informing relevant EU institutions and at influencing EU policies and rules by increasing awareness and understanding of small islands issues.