… and calls for a full recognition of EU islands as high priority of the European Union
for the post-2020 period

A delegation of the CPMR Islands Commission went to Zagreb on July 11th, to meet Gabrijela ŽALAC, the Croatian Minister for regional development and EU Funds, to support the full recognition of the island dimension as high priority of the European Union during the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU (January-June 2020).

The Islands Commission (IC) aims at drawing attention on the full application of the principles stated in Article 174 of the Treaty which recognises that a “a particular attention shall be paid to rural areas, areas affected by industrial transition, and regions which suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps” such as islands. Some European islands (8), through their status of outermost regions have benefited from “specific measures” considering their unique situation, under the provisions of Article 349 of the Treaty. However, no such measures exist for island territories in Europe territories that are not Outermost Regions.

Thus, the objective of this meeting was to present the IC’s proposals for a better consideration of the islands’ needs and assets in EU policies, particularly in the future Cohesion Policy 2021-2027, and to exchange on potential opportunities for collaboration on island issues between the Islands Commission, EU institutions and Member States and the Croatian Government during its Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2020.

The delegation was composed of the CPMR Islands Commission President and President of the Executive Council of Corsica, Mr Gilles Simeoni, Mrs Marie-Antoinette Maupertuis, Member of the Committee of the Regions, Executive Member of the Executive Council of Corsica in charge of European Affairs and President of the Corsican Tourism Agency and Mr Giuseppe Sciacca, Executive Secretary of the CPMR Islands Commission.

This meeting with Minister Žalac took place as Croatia prepares to hold the EU Council’s Presidency for the first time. As a Member state directly concerned by insularity-related issues, Croatia has actively sought to address them in its domestic law though the adoption of the Islands Act (1999, 2002 and 2006).

The Croatian Government will also have the important responsibility to carry out crucial negotiations on the future EU budget and Cohesion Policy for the post-2020 period.

The discussion mainly focused on the following key points:

  • Launch specific courses of action to achieve the Treaty objectives laid down in Article 174;
  • During the negotiations on the 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy, support the introduction of specific measures paying particular attention to islands;
  • Facilitate and strengthen the participation of IC members in the work and meetings of the Council during the Croatian Presidency on topics of priority concern for islands (such as energy, Cohesion Policy or sustainable tourism).

President Gilles Simeoni stated after the meeting: “We have asked Croatia, a Member State particularly concerned by insularity issues and very careful in addressing them, to tackle this issue head-on during its Presidency of the Council of the EU as of 1 January 2020. We have suggested that this recognition should be translated in designing an island strand within EU Cohesion Policy and by introducing an insularity clause in EU policies. We have also called for island issues to be placed on the EU agenda, by setting up dedicated events and structured dialogues. We have agreed with the Minister on a working method to further develop these prospects and translate them into actions in the coming months.”

Minister Gabrijela Žalac added On the EU budget, we believe it is essential to reach an agreement as soon as possible so that Regional and Local Authorities can best prepare for the start of European programmes in January 2021. We will also be very careful to ensure that the specific conditions of EU islands are duly considered when negotiating with other Member States.”

Several work meetings are scheduled in the coming weeks.