April 19, 2017
Islands stand firm with EU
For those who choose life on Scotland’s islands, it must require some kind of trade-off – dealing with the particular challenges of living in remote locations in order to enjoy the most spectacular of settings surrounded by sea. Many of these challenges are common to all islands and for some years now, the Scottish Islands Federation has been linking with other island networks around Europe to build a collective voice in Brussels. Last month’s signing of the Smart Islands Declaration signals another example of what Scotland stands to lose when Brexit really does become Brexit.
28 March 2017 marks a strong comeback of islands in the European Parliament. The “Smart Islands Event: Creating New Pathways for EU islands” gathered over 100 European island representatives, stakeholders and policy-makers to officially present the Smart Islands Initiative, one that sheds light on the potential of islands to emerge as ideal territories for the deployment of innovative technologies in the fields of energy, transport & mobility, water & waste management and ICT.
During the event 36 island representatives from Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK signed the Smart Islands Declaration, cornerstone document of the Smart Islands Initiative.
The event was co-hosted and warmly supported by a group of 11 MEPs from Member States with islands, led by MEP Eva Kaili. Mrs Kaili also expressed her intention to table, in the coming months, a Motion for Resolution so that the Smart Islands Declaration is formally endorsed by the European Parliament.
In his intervention, Director-General for Energy Dominique Ristori pointed to the immense potential of islands to host innovative projects that can have a positive impact on local economies, all while helping Europe meet the goals it has set in a number of key policy areas, including climate, energy, transport and mobility.
The two roundtables, composed of experts from the European Commission, European Investment Bank, European Economic Social Committee, Committee of the Regions, Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions, FEDARENE and EURELECTRIC along with market and civil society representatives, provided useful insights on islands’ intrinsic characteristics, as much as on the smart technologies, financing instruments and policies available which, if properly combined, can boost local sustainable development on islands.
Revealing of the on-going work to bring islands on top of the EU policy agenda was the reference by Clive Gerada, Chair of the Energy Working Party of the Maltese Presidency, on the Political Declaration on Islands to be signed during the Informal Meeting of Energy Ministers on 18 May in Valetta.
The Smart Islands Event marks an important milestone on islands’ pathway to becoming smart, inclusive and thriving societies, contributing to an innovative and sustainable Europe.
For more information, please visit www.smartislandsinitiative.eu
Camille Dressler is chairperson of Scottish islands Federation