Alyn Chairs EU Islands Strategy Meeting

14 October 2011

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has this week chaired a major conference on EU Islands strategy in Brussels.

The meeting took place within the framework of the EU 'Regions and Cities Week' bringing together local and regional government across the EU for meetings in Brussels.  With more than 790 islands in Scotland, Alyn represented Scotland chairing the conference on how the EU can better aid the development and growth of Europe's Islands.  Already, Alyn has had an offer of partnership from Croatian Delegates looking for Scottish Island community partners for an EU funding bid.

Alyn takes a lead role in promoting islands as Vice President of the 'Mountains, Islands and Sparsely Populated Areas' intergroup within the Parliament.  The panel, consisting of various island representatives largely from the Mediterranean region unanimously agreed to establish an Island Caucus within Brussels to lobby on behalf of island interests.  Alyn assured the meeting Scotland would be "all over it".

Many future initiatives and programs were discussed including the need to specifically focus on insularity and sustainable energy, enhancing the Pact of Islands and ensuring that European strategic development goals and priorities are relevant to the islands’ needs, potential and opportunities.

Alyn said:

"Many meetings are as much about bread on water as anything else, and I was proud to fly the flag for Scotland and heartened that so many of the delegates were keen to work with us.  The conference made a number of useful decisions which will be of real long term benefit to our island communities, and indeed the EU as a whole.

"There are many constraints and geographical challenges faced by islands including transport difficulties, energy costs which are higher than on the mainland, and insufficient energy distribution.

"These are unprecedented times, the need for a realistic approach is vital to the future success of Europe's islands. The purse strings are tight; Europe's islands must take the lead focussing on a bottom up approach instead of waiting for money to be handed down by the EU.  Ultimately, this is not about more money but better design and implementation of policies."