36th Annual General Meeting of CPMR’s Island Commission: “What realities and what opportunities for islands in a changing Europe?”
The Governor of North Aegean spoke at the 36th Annual General Meeting of CPMR’s Island Commission which was held in Rhodes titled “What realities and what opportunities for islands in a changing Europe?”
While participating in the debate on the Cohesion Policy Mrs. Kalogirou stated that it constitutes so far EU’s most significant contribution to the effort of Regions and particularly insular regions to converge with the European average and at the same time secure equal opportunities and quality of life for its citizens. And this despite problems such as heavy bureaucracy, excessive restrictions and planning which only subsequently takes into account the specificities of islands ,trying to “cure” them and not exploiting them.
In view of the discussion on the new Programme Period (the one after 2020) which will determine the course of Regions as well for the next 10 years, the Governor stressed that the islands are starting once again from a disadvantaged position, as the logic promoted is strenghtening of financing tools to the detriment of the Cohesion Policy.
“The situation is truly difficult and the Regions ought to provide a realistic and feasible counterproposal which cannot simply be the continuation of the same policy but take into consideration both fiscal perspectives and the openly threatened Cohesion Policy of the EU”, she highlighted.
The Governor noted that the use of new financing tools should be matched with the needs of each region. Especially for the remote but also the “disadvantaged” Regions, since the contribution of investors in necessary infrastructure projects is not always guaranteed. Moreover, there are projects which will never be quite rewarding for an individual investor; however, they constitute necessary infrastructure for the economic development of a region. There should be sufficient funds available for these projects combined with further incentives to attract investors.
Additionally, she stated that strong incentives should be given to island and remote Regions without excluding any of them from the Cohesion Policy.
At the same time, she highlighted that the participatory way of planning Regional Programmes should not be underestimated. Trans-European cooperations should be strenghtened.
Mrs. Kalogirou made a special reference to the usefulness of cross-cutting interventions in exercising island development policy drawing on financial support for integrated territorial rural investments.
“In the same framework the island Regions should acquire their own distinct role”, she noted and suggested coordination of forces so that in the next Programme Period everything that was not achieved during the current Period can be secured, characterizing useful a study on the impact on island Regions if the debated changes are implemented.
The Governor referred to the need for the European Commission to acknowledge and take into consideration in the Cohesion Policy the specificities of the islands, namely to recognize insularity which is clearly provisioned in Article 174 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union but is not effectively taken into account in the Cohesion Policy.
In her closing remarks she stressed: “The wealth of Europe is its diversity. So far its success has been the respect of this diversity and the creation of mechanisms allowing to everyone- regardless of its power, size, and capabilities- to coexist in harmony and evolve within it. The Cohesion Policy has guaranteed so far the preservation of this wealth and the development course of the Regions.”