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Parliamentary questions
13 March 2018
Joint answer given by Ms Creţu on behalf of the Commission
Written questions: E-000546/18 , E-000443/18

According to Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), special attention should be paid to regions suffering from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps, including island regions. It should be noted that there is no legal definition of "an island" or "island region" provided by the EU regulations. Nevertheless, Eurostat(1) established a definition of island regions for statistical purposes. They are NUTS(2) 3 regions entirely made up of islands. In this context, islands are defined as territories having: a minimum surface of 1 km2; a minimum distance between the island and the mainland of 1 km; a resident population of more than 50 inhabitants; and no fixed link between the island and the mainland.

Cohesion policy provides possibilities for supporting the development of these areas. For example, Article 10 and Annex I of Common Provision Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 ("the CPR") stipulate that Member States should take account of geographic or demographic features of each region. Also, based on Article 121 CPR, there is the possibility of modulating co-financing rates under the regional competitiveness and employment objective when supporting islands.

Member States and regions may address challenges of specific territories through special means in national or regional programmes. This can take different forms, including programmes targeting certain islands, as is the case for Sardinia and Sicily.

The Commission does not consider that there is any legal inconsistency between European and national law when it comes to determining Italy’s island regions.

Access to EU programmes and funds will be the same for Sicily or Sardinia irrespective of formal recognition of island status under national law.

(1) In cooperation with the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Regional_typologies_overview
(2) The Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics, abbreviated NUTS (from the French version Nomenclature des Unités territoriales statistiques)

Last updated: 13 March 2018Legal notice