The CPMR Islands Commission joins the CPMR in celebrating 10 years since the territorial cohesion principle entered into force, enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. Article 174 of the new Treaty established territorial cohesion as one of the Union’s objectives and, above all, introduced the need to pay “particular attention” to regions that suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps, such as islands.
In 2009, the CPMR Islands Commission welcomed the inclusion of Article 174 and the new commitments made by the European Union towards its specific territories. If a few initiatives have subsequently emerged, the last decade has revealed the wide gap between the expectations expressed by island governments, stemming from Article 174, and the low consideration given to insularity in EU policies.
For Gilles Simeoni, President of the Islands Commission and President of the Executive Council of Corsica: “It is now time to reassert the insularity condition at European level and to tangibly implement the territorial cohesion principle in EU islands, notably by adding an insularity clause in every EU policy. 2020 will be a decisive year in that respect and will open an unprecedented window of opportunity for all island regions.” Croatia, an important island State, will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time in January 2020, at a time when the negotiations on the EU’s future long-term budget and the future Cohesion Policy will be entering their final stage. The Islands Commission, together with the European Parliament and its insular MEPs, will seize this timely opportunity to strongly reiterate its messages and proposals in favour of islands to the new European Commission and to Member States.
The Islands Commission therefore calls on the European Commission to fully use its shared competence in territorial cohesion and to launch, in 2020, a White Paper on Article 174 of the Treaty and on the territorial cohesion principle enforced in specific EU territories. 10 years after the Lisbon Treaty entered into force and the Green Paper on territorial cohesion was published by the European Commission, the EU must now continue this essential strategic reflection by outlining specific areas for action required to deliver this Treaty objective in all EU islands. More than ever, the challenges as well as the unique assets of island territories in achieving the EU’s objectives should receive the attention they deserve at European level, as per the provisions enshrined in Article 174 of the TFEU.