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Procedūra : 2006/2106(INI)
Procedūros eiga plenarinėje sesijoje
Dokumento priėmimo eiga : A6-0044/2007

Pateikti tekstai :

A6-0044/2007

Debatai :

PV 15/03/2007 - 3
CRE 15/03/2007 - 3

Balsavimas :

PV 15/03/2007 - 5.11
Balsavimo rezultatų paaiškinimas

Priimti tekstai :

P6_TA(2007)0082

Diskusijos
Ketvirtadienis, 2007 m. kovo 15 d. - Strasbūras Atnaujinta informacija

3. Salų padėties ir gamtinių bei ekonominių veiksnių sąlygoti apribojimai regioninės politikos srityje (diskusijos)
PV
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  Le Président. – L'ordre du jour appelle le rapport de M. Francesco Musotto, au nom de la commission du développement régional, sur les contraintes insulaires, naturelles et économiques dans le contexte de la politique régionale (2006/2106(INI) (A6-0044/2007).

 
  
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  Francesco Musotto (PPE-DE), relatore. – Signor Presidente, signor Commissario, onorevoli colleghi, vorrei ringraziare sentitamente tutti i colleghi che hanno contribuito alla redazione di questa relazione. Noi riteniamo che sia la prima volta che alle isole è dedicato uno studio completo, che tiene conto delle specificità insulari per tutti i settori di competenza comunitaria: anche se la politica di coesione 2007-2013 dedica particolare attenzione alle aree strutturalmente svantaggiate, nessuna misura specifica è prevista per le regioni insulari.

Il Parlamento ha evidenziato a più riprese tale lacuna e, benché il contesto delle isole europee sia eterogeneo – ce ne sono 121, con una popolazione di circa 15 milioni di abitanti – esse condividono una serie di difficoltà che costituiscono uno svantaggio competitivo: prezzi più alti dovuti ai costi di trasporto supplementari e alla scarsa concorrenza; difficoltà di accesso al mercato unico; necessità di importare le materie prime; maggiori costi energetici; carenze infrastrutturali; immigrazione; limitata diversificazione delle attività economiche e vulnerabilità ai rischi ambientali. Non è un caso che il PIL medio pro capite nelle isole costituisce il 72% della media dell'Unione europea. E' pertanto necessario riconoscerne le specificità nell'attuazione delle politiche comunitarie, a partire dagli aiuti di Stato. Riteniamo pertanto che occorra maggiore flessibilità, al fine di bilanciare i costi supplementari e, per quanto riguarda l'energia, compensare le fluttuazioni dei prezzi del carburante.

Va prestata una particolare attenzione, nell'ambito dei programmi operativi dei Fondi strutturali, alla realizzazione delle opere infrastrutturali, specialmente nel quadro delle politica marittima europea per integrare pienamente le isole al mercato interno e alla Strategia di Lisbona. D'altro canto le isole godono di un vantaggio per la produzione di energie: vento, sole, mare. Esse costituiscono un valore potenziale unico, ragion per cui la Commissione deve privilegiare i progetti per le energie rinnovabili e per la sicurezza energetica.

Anche il turismo rappresenta una risorsa da valorizzare. Serve una politica comunitaria per la promozione del turismo insulare, un marchio di qualità e di origine e un'analisi approfondita a favore del turismo sostenibile. Proponiamo, tra l'altro, il 2010 come Anno europeo delle isole.

La relazione affronta anche il problema dell'immigrazione clandestina, che noi riteniamo sia una tragedia umana oltre che un onere insostenibile per le isole del Mediterraneo, di cui l'Unione europea deve farsi carico. Accogliamo favorevolmente la creazione di squadre d'intervento rapido alle frontiere e chiediamo di istituire un corpo europeo di guardie costiere. È urgente che l'Unione europea stanzi le risorse necessarie a garantire un intervento rapido e tempestivo in questo settore.

Ci sono altre proposte che meriterebbero un approfondimento, come gli strumenti finanziari JASPERS (Assistenza congiunta ai progetti nelle regioni europee) e JEREMIE (Risorse europee congiunte per le microimprese e quelle di piccole e medie dimensioni), per agevolare il credito alle piccole e medie imprese e promuovere la diversificazione delle economie insulari o la diffusione della banda larga per colmare il gap tecnologico.

Infine, è indispensabile rivedere il quadro normativo per prendere pienamente in considerazione le specificità delle isole e di conseguenza aggiornare gli indicatori statistici: tenere in conto le isole nel contesto della Rete europea di osservazione sulla pianificazione spaziale e predisporre un'unità amministrativa per le isole all'interno della DG "Politica regionale" della Commissione.

Ci auguriamo che questa relazione rappresenti realmente, e una volta per tutte, una svolta per creare vero sviluppo e dare concrete risposte alle nuove generazioni, che intendono continuare a vivere ed operare nella realtà dove sono nati, integrati nel contesto europeo.

 
  
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  Neelie Kroes, Member of the Commission. Mr President, islands and other territories with natural or specific constraints are very important to the Commission in terms of ensuring territorial cohesion, developing cross-border cooperation – usually with third countries, tourism, culture and other issues.

While acknowledging that a cross-sectoral approach may be useful, cohesion policy aims to play a central role in dealing with the specific problems of these territories. In the draft 2007-2013 Cohesion Policy General Regulation, issued in July 2004, the Commission specifically proposed granting a co-financing rate top-up to these regions. Unfortunately, this proposal was not finally adopted by the Council in the final version of the regulation approved in July 2006 and which is now in force, as you are aware. However, the Commission will ensure, during the ongoing negotiations on the Cohesion Policy intervention for 2007-2013, that the specific constraints of these territories are duly taken into account in the corresponding programmes and that suitable measures are programmed to tackle them.

In addition, the Commission is now preparing the Fourth Cohesion Report to be published in May, which will contain a comprehensive analysis of the state of play and trends in territorial cohesion in the EU, including islands and regions with natural handicaps. Likewise the Commission intends to continue upgrading work within the ESPON programme in order to obtain more suitable indicators and more updated information on these territories. At the same time, the Commission would point out that statistical data for islands or other territories that are NUTS II or NUTS III regions are already available. Gathering statistical information for smaller territories is certainly more difficult, but in fact 95% of the European island population, outermost regions excluded, live in NUTS II or NUTS III regions.

Turning to the practical implementation of the notion of territorial cohesion, despite the lack of an explicit legal base as provided by the Constitutional Treaty, the Council already agreed in 2004 in Rotterdam to introduce the territorial dimension into the Lisbon process. It also started to develop the territorial agenda and this document, which aims at presenting the challenges, objectives and policy recommendations for territorial cohesion, is due to be adopted in May 2007 in Leipzig.

Moreover, the Community strategy guidelines on cohesion adopted by the Council last October include a specific chapter on the territorial dimension of cohesion policy. The Commission is now working to ensure their practical implementation in the programming documents that are now being negotiated.

The Commission is very much in favour of promoting Euro-regions or similar structures in order to manage cross-border transnational and interregional cooperation. These bodies could be particularly suited to islands and other regions with natural handicaps and, in addition, the Commission encourages these territories to make use of the brand new European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation in order to facilitate the management of the corresponding programmes.

With regard to state aid, it may be that regional investment aid is not the best instrument to tackle local problems in islands. I believe that the islands’ main problems can be tackled more effectively with, for example, horizontal instruments. Our state aid rules already allow for many forms of aid. For example, our rules on services of general economic interest allow compensation for the provision of local public services, including passenger transport services.

Secondly, our new guidelines on risk capital and our framework for research development and innovation offer new opportunities to support young, innovative companies, with extra bonuses for small and medium-sized enterprises.

In some cases, the support levels needed by small islands will not be counted as aids at all. Under the new de minimis regulation, aid of up to EUR 200 000, granted over any period of 3 years will not be counted as aid. Investment for all kinds of public infrastructure can be financed. They do not have an aid element. Moreover, the specific situation of islands is effectively taken into account in the new regional aid guidelines. Under the new form of aid to help business start-ups, a 5% bonus is given to small islands.

I think that these examples really show how, through our state aid reform process, we are making the rules more predictable and reducing the administrative burden of state aid notification, and that was what you were asking for in the interests of island regions and all other stakeholders.

 
  
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  Simon Busuttil, f’isem il-grupp PPE-DE. – Nixtieq nibda billi nifraħ lill-kollega Francesco Musotto għar-rapport li huwa ħejja. Dan huwa rapport importanti ferm, speċjalment għalina d-deputati li ġejjin mill-gżejjer. Importanti ferm għaliex jagħti vuċi lill-gżejjer. Importanti li nagħtu vuċi lill-gżejjer għaliex s’issa l-gżejjer ma jingħatawx vuċi biżżejjed mill-Unjoni Ewropea, u dan ir-rapport, allura, qiegħed jagħtihom vuċi u qiegħed jagħtihom importanza. U jiena nieħu gost nisma’ lill-Kummissarju Kroes tgħid illi għall-Kummissjoni Ewropea l-gżejjer huma importanti. Però li rridu aħna, Sinjura Kummissarju, huwa li l-gżejjer jiġu ttrattati fil-politika differenti kollha ta’ l-Unjoni Ewropea u mhux mil-lenti tal-politika reġjunali biss. Inti pereżempju Kummissarju responsabbli mill-kompetizzjoni u kif għidt inti tajjeb hemm ir-regoli dwar l-għajnuna statali (state aid) u dawn ir-regoli m’humiex sal-lum flessibbli biżżejjed għall-gżejjer. Regoli li wieħed jagħmel għat-territorju Ewropew kollu mhux neċessarjament huma flessibbli biżżejjed għall-gżejjer, u nixtiquk bis-serjetà illi dawn ir-regoli tħares lejhom, tagħti kas il-gżejjer u tara kif jiġu applikati b’mod iżjed flessibbli għalihom.

Punt wieħed mir-rapport; tissemma l-importanza li l-Kummissjoni tħejji regolarment rapport dwar il-ħtiġijiet tal-gżejjer – qed nirreferi għall-paragrafu 10 – rapport dwar il-ħtiġijiet tal-gżejjer u kif il-bżonnijiet tagħhom għandhom jiġu indirizzati. Jiena nistenna li l-Kummissjoni tagħmel dan ir-rapport u ser insusu fuqha biex dan isir. Rapport tajjeb, li m’għandix dubju li l-gżejjer li qegħdin isegwuna llum hawnhekk ser japprezzaw.

 
  
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  Σταύρος Αρναουτάκης, εξ ονόματος της ομάδας PSE. – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κυρία Επίτροπε, αγαπητοί συνάδελφοι, για μια ακόμη φορά το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο φέρνει στην επιφάνεια τα προβλήματα της νησιωτικότητας. Για μια ακόμη φορά δηλώνει ξεκάθαρα μέσα από την έκθεση αυτή - και θα ήθελα να συγχαρώ τον κ. Musotto για την εξαίρετη δουλειά που έχει κάνει - ότι οι νησιωτικές περιφέρειες χρειάζονται ιδιαίτερη αντιμετώπιση. Χρειάζονται περισσότερη βοήθεια, για να μπορέσουν όχι μόνο να ξεπεράσουν τις αναπτυξιακές δυσκολίες που αντιμετωπίζουν αλλά και να αξιοποιήσουν τις δυνατότητες που προσφέρει η κοινή αγορά και η παγκοσμιοποιημένη οικονομία.

Αγαπητοί συνάδελφοι, για όλους εμάς που κατοικούμε σε νησιωτικές περιοχές, προβλήματα σε διαφορετικό πάντα βαθμό, όπως αυτό της γεωγραφικής απομόνωσης, της έλλειψης υποδομών, του οικονομικού και πληθυσμιακού μαρασμού, του περιορισμού των πόρων και των επιλογών είναι, θα έλεγα, τρόπος ζωής. Συγχρόνως όμως είναι γνωστά σε όλους τους μόνιμους κατοίκους αλλά και στα εκατομμύρια πολιτών που επιλέγουν τα ευρωπαϊκά νησιά για τις διακοπές τους, τα πλεονεκτήματα των νησιωτικών περιοχών: ο πολιτιστικός τους πλούτος, τα πλούσια αλλά ευαίσθητα οικοσυστήματα, το φυσικό τους περιβάλλον, ο ιδιαίτερος τρόπος ζωής, τα ποιοτικά προϊόντα, οι παραδοσιακοί τρόποι παραγωγής. Τα πλεονεκτήματα αυτά πρέπει να τα υποστηρίξουμε, να τα αναδείξουμε και να τα προβάλουμε μέσα από τις πολιτικές της Ευρωπαϊκές Ένωσης, και κυρίως μέσα από την πολιτική συνοχής, αν πράγματι θέλουμε μια ουσιαστική οικονομική και εδαφική συνοχή ανάμεσα στις περιφέρειες της Ευρώπης. Προς αυτή την κατεύθυνση θα ήθελα να αναφερθώ στην ιδιαίτερη σημασία της χορήγησης κρατικών ενισχύσεων σε νησιωτικές περιφέρειες, όπου το κόστος των καυσίμων και της ενέργειας επιδρά αρνητικά στην ανταγωνιστικότητά τους αλλά και στην ευέλικτη εφαρμογή τόσο των υφιστάμενων όσο και των μελλοντικών κρατικών ενισχύσεων σε σχέση με το κόστος μεταφοράς, της εφαρμογής μιας ολοκληρωμένης πολιτικής για τον τουρισμό, της εφαρμογής αποτελεσματικής επιχειρηματικής πολιτικής, της άμεσης δημιουργίας μιας διοικητικής μονάδας για τα νησιά στη Γενική Διεύθυνση Περιφερειακής Πολιτικής στη βάση της υπάρχουσας εμπειρίας της διοικητικής μονάδας για τις εξόχως απόκεντρες περιφέρειες, η λειτουργία της οποίας θα εξασφαλίσει όσες ιδιαιτερότητες και ανάγκες των νησιών και των μόνιμων και εποχιακών κατοίκων αυτών λαμβάνονται υπόψη στην ανάπτυξη και εφαρμογή των ευρωπαϊκών πολιτικών, και ιδίως στους τομείς των μεταφορών, της ενέργειας, της διαχείρισης των υδάτινων πόρων.

Αγαπητοί συνάδελφοι, σε μια περίοδο όπου προετοιμάζεται η 4η έκθεση για τη συνοχή αλλά και ξεκινά η συζήτηση για το μέλλον της περιφερειακής πολιτικής εν όψει της μεταρρύθμισης των δημοσιονομικών προοπτικών του 2008-2009, το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο οφείλει να υπενθυμίσει ότι η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση δεν μπορεί να μεταχειρίζεται με διαφορετικό τρόπο παρόμοιες καταστάσεις αλλά ούτε διαφορετικές καταστάσεις με παρόμοιο τρόπο.

 
  
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  Elspeth Attwooll, on behalf of the ALDE Group . – Mr President, Commissioner, the ALDE Group thanks Mr Musotto for his very valuable report on the natural and economic constraints affecting islands.

All the topics covered merit full attention, but I should like to concentrate on issues relating to state aid and paragraphs 8, 9 and 19. The reason has to do with the realities of life on islands, particularly those remote from centres of population. The examples are from my own constituency, but resonate across the whole of the EU.

To emphasise the problem of distance, it takes a friend from the Shetland Islands a 14-hour journey by car and ferry to reach the nearest cinema. The price of petrol is some 11% higher in the Western Isles than in Scotland’s central belt. This rises to around 16% for the Shetland Islands. A bale of hay costs five times as much in the Western Isles as it does just outside the nearest city of Inverness. Facts like these only begin to illustrate how far matters of location alone can place islands at a competitive disadvantage.

I thank the Commissioner for what she said about state aid, but a more flexible regime is still needed simply to level the playing field. I have particular concerns, as she knows, with the market investor test. Again, the realities of life on islands and in other remote regions make this test very difficult to satisfy, as no appropriate comparator may be available and the small size of the market creates problems where the average level of return for a given sector is concerned.

All we seek in this context is for our islands to enjoy access to the single market on equal terms with mainland regions.

 
  
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  Mieczysław Edmund Janowski, w imieniu grupy UEN. – Panie Przewodniczący! Gratuluję sprawozdawcy wykonanej pracy. Dziś mamy możliwość powiedzieć sobie szczerze, że nie we wszystkich sytuacjach mieszkańcy państw Unii są obywatelami tej samej kategorii. Są w naszej Wspólnocie takie obszary, które mają szczególne uwarunkowania z racji oddalenia, czy trudnej dostępności. Należą do nich tereny wyspiarskie, które często są zarówno ultraperyferyjne i górskie.

Mówimy o solidarności, wewnętrznej spójności. Te fundamentalne zasady wymagają od nas należytej troski i, gdy trzeba, odpowiedniej do okoliczności pomocy dla żyjących tam ludzi. Utrudnienia transportowe, niedostatek surowców, wysokie koszty dostarczania energii, trudności z dostępem do sieci internetowej i telekomunikacyjnej, trudne warunki topograficzne, zwłaszcza w górach i na terenach dalekiej Północy, wyludnianie się lub nielegalna imigracja to najważniejsze problemy, które porusza sprawozdanie.

Przyłączając się do konkluzji wygłoszonych przez autora, chcę apelować, o to, byśmy nie pozostawiali tych obszarów jedynie na łasce losu, jedynie samym sobie.

 
  
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  Alyn Smith, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, I would like to add my own congratulations to the rapporteur and thank him for his very constructive approach to our amendments as we were working on this in the committee. I am very pleased to support his report today.

Coming from Scotland I have a particular interest and a particular perspective, as other Scots colleagues do, and I would remind colleagues firstly that peripherality is relative. Brussels is actually pretty peripheral if I am looking for Scottish football scores on a Saturday. Islands have a distinctive culture, a distinctive identity and a distinctive geography, which is something to celebrate, not pity. If the playing field is level, there is nothing wrong with Europe’s islands that will not be put right by what is right with Europe’s islands in their dynamism, their innovation and their potential contribution to the EU’s objectives. If Malta was in central Europe with good transport links and easy links to the rest of Europe, then it would not be Malta any more, it would be Munich. We must celebrate Europe’s islands as well as recognise their distinctiveness.

Being an island means that there are specific issues which need to be dealt with and this report makes a number of solid suggestions. I hope that our Commissioner will give us specific assurances today that this report will be acted upon because there are a lot of good ideas in it and I would hope that this would not become another wish list that the Commission pays lip service to but does not necessarily do very much with.

I would like to highlight a few specific points. Islands have specific disbenefits in interaction with the European Union single market and we must have up-to-date, accurate statistics in order to inform policy. Can our Commissioner assure us that we will work with Eurostat in order to make this happen?

In paragraphs 12 and 16 of our report, we call for the creation of a specific cross-cutting administrative unit within the Directorate-General for Regional Policy to deal with islands. This already exists in respect of outermost regions. The case for a specific unit dealing with islands is very clear. Can our Commissioner assure us that this will actually happen?

On state aid, as other colleagues have mentioned, we must see a more realistic approach from the Commission in assessing state aid criteria for islands. Islands have specific economic factors which are not currently sufficiently taken into account and I would welcome an assurance from our Commissioner that we will review policy on this.

Concerning state aid cuts, particularly in the field of transport to, from and within islands, in Scotland our own government has just squandered EUR 25 million on a very wasteful tender in respect of ferry services. This mistake was largely domestic in origin, but the complexity of the interlocking EU rules did not help and we must take a look at this again. We also need to look in particular at public service obligations and aid of a social character in terms of how they are viewed in respect of Article 87(2) of the Treaty. The position of road equivalent tariff must also be clarified.

On energy, islands have a clear natural advantage and we would like to see the Commission use all means available to encourage sustainable energy communities, in particular the European grid, and the abolition of domestic constraints. In Scotland with Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and Argyle and Bute we have the best wind, wave and tidal resources in the EU and a vast potential contribution to make to the EU’s energy and climate change objectives, but we are not developing these resources because we have seen insufficient investment in the grid. If the EU is serious about meeting the climate change challenges, invest in interconnectors to the Scottish islands and the Scottish islands will make a vast contribution to our objectives.

Similarly, the UK Government is holding us back in terms of a discriminatory pricing system in access to the National Grid in the UK. Simply, the further away from the main market, the higher the connection charge is to feed electricity into the UK National Grid. I am firmly of the view that this is discriminatory under Article 7(6) of the 2001 Renewable Energy Directive and I believe that the Commission must open formal proceedings against the UK for holding us back. The islands have a vast contribution to make and they can make it. There is nothing wrong with Europe’s islands that will not be put right by what is right with them, but we must ensure the playing field is level.

 
  
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  Le Président. – Votre intervention nous a rappelé quelque chose d'important: nous nous situons toujours à la périphérie de quelqu'un. Le problème de centralité n'est pas facile à définir.

 
  
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  Κυριάκος Τριανταφυλλίδης, εξ ονόματος της ομάδας GUE/NGL. – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, πρέπει νομίζω να συγχαρούμε την Επιτροπή Περιφερειακής Ανάπτυξης που πήρε την πρωτοβουλία να προτείνει μια τέτοια έκθεση.

Πράγματι τα νησιά της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης είναι ένα κρίσιμο στοιχείο στο πλαίσιο της πολιτικής συνοχής για την περίοδο 2007-2013, και αυτό διότι τα περισσότερα βρίσκονται αντιμέτωπα με δυσκολίες που πρέπει να ξεπεραστούν, για να μην είναι σε μειονεκτική θέση σε σχέση με την υπόλοιπη Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση. Έτσι, για ένα νησί σαν την Κύπρο, για παράδειγμα, οι δυσκολίες που αντιμετωπίζονται είναι οι εξής: υψηλότερες τιμές λόγω της αλληλεπίδρασης δεσμευμένων αγορών και πρόσθετων μεταφορικών εξόδων, χαμηλοί μισθοί λόγω των επιπέδων ζήτησης και ευκαιριών, έλλειψη πρώτων υλών, αυξημένο ενεργειακό κόστος, ελλείψεις στις υποδομές, περιορισμένο φάσμα δραστηριοτήτων και μεγαλύτερη ευαισθησία σε περιβαλλοντικούς κινδύνους που μπορούν να έχουν αντίκτυπο στον τουρισμό. Εν τούτοις η έκθεση κάλυψε το ευρύτερο πλαίσιο αυτών των προβλημάτων με τρόπο ικανοποιητικό. Υπάρχει όμως και ένα πρόβλημα στην έκθεση με το οποίο δεν συμφωνώ, και είναι αυτό της μετανάστευσης. Με το να προτείνουμε ισχυρότερη αστυνόμευση των εξωτερικών συνόρων, δημιουργία ακτοφυλακής και πάταξης της λεγόμενης παράνομης μετανάστευσης, στρουθοκαμηλίζουμε και δεν προτείνουμε βιώσιμες λύσεις για ένα πολύ μεγάλο κοινωνικό πρόβλημα, διότι δεν μπορούμε από τη μια να διαφημίζουμε την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση σαν παγκόσμια οικονομική δύναμη και από την άλλη να κλείνουμε τα σύνορά μας. Ως προς τούτο τα νησιά έχουν να παίξουν ένα θετικό ρόλο, που δεν είναι δυστυχώς αυτός τον οποίο περιγράφει η έκθεση.

 
  
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  Derek Roland Clark, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. – Mr President, so, we need another initiative do we? This time for island people. Actually, island people are by nature resourceful. They are all still there, but they need help where the EU has interfered.

Last year this Parliament approved the resumption of licences for EU fishing fleets to plunder the waters of Western Sahara. Unable to compete with the modern vessels of the EU, these people sought work elsewhere, and the Canary Islands began to experience the trauma of massive illegal immigration. Graphically displayed on TV, boatloads of West Africans were seen trying to make their way across the Atlantic, their misery compounded as dozens died when their inshore craft could not cope with the open sea. Once this EU-inspired exodus began, people from neighbouring countries followed suit, making it worse.

Malta faces the same problem of mass immigration. Of course it does: the EU’s high tariff barriers depress trade, with the poorer countries of northern and eastern Africa being hard hit, so off they go to try their luck in Europe using Malta as a staging post. Pouring aid into Malta is not the answer. It is the tariff barriers: bring those down, trade improves and most people in Africa will be able to make a living without moving home. If you persist with a closed shop of 27 EU countries when there is a whole world out there just waiting to engage in trade with Europe, then the problems of your own making will continue.

Do I see in the report that EU islands, especially in the outermost regions, might be used as sources of renewable energy? I suppose that means we intend to plant these ridiculous wind farms on them. Well, that is one way of driving the indigenous population away, and all for useless turbines producing insignificant amounts of power at unpredictable times, located on remote islands so as to ensure that much of their pitiful output is lost in transmission.

I notice that islands are said to be vulnerable to rising sea levels: another dimension of the hysterical, doom-laden warnings of the ‘global warmers’. It is not happening on the scale that has been claimed. And it is natural. It has happened before. The world experiences cycles of warming and cooling. In the Medieval warm period it was hotter than now, and for decades. There are enough records of these hotter events, such as certain crops growing where never before, but there are no records of islands disappearing beneath the waves.

It is about time we all calmed down and realised that minimal global warming is naturally occurring in a cycle that has no input from man. We should simply adapt as nature intended.

In conclusion, let us stop interfering. Leave successful islands alone. Where help is needed, for third world islands or otherwise, let trade be their aid. The EU’s protectionist attitude is no long-term help, it is just sticking plaster and that always peels off after a while.

 
  
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  Luca Romagnoli, a nome del gruppo ITS. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, come non tener conto degli svantaggi strutturali delle isole della nostra Europa? Era imprescindibile che nel regolamento comunitario sugli aiuti di Stato questo rappresentasse un obiettivo. La relazione d'iniziativa sulle isole dell'Unione e i loro innegabili limiti, presentata dallo stimatissimo collega Musotto, rappresenta una pietra miliare nel riconoscimento dell'importanza delle isole nei quadri di sviluppo regionali dell'Europa.

Nel contesto di questa legislatura è la prima volta che mi trovo ad analizzare e a commentare una relazione così pregevole e condivisibile. Condivisibile perché completa negli aspetti considerati ed equilibratissima nel metodo, oltre che assolutamente condivisibile nel merito e nelle finalità. Con piacere la voterò e spero che ottenga dai colleghi tutti il massimo dell'approvazione.

Può l'Unione non considerare quanto statisticamente inoppugnabile, ovvero che circa 15 milioni di cittadini vivono nelle isole e che oltre il 90% di questa popolazione ha un reddito inferiore alla media europea? Sono soprattutto gli innegabili deficit strutturali, diretta conseguenza dell'insularità, la causa di questo status e per troppo tempo l'Unione l'ha pressoché ignorato.

Ora la pregevole relazione Musotto, oltre ad descrivere nei considerando ragioni e motivi del minor sviluppo e a delineare con chiarezza quali sono le concrete risorse delle isole, focalizza finalmente quali interventi, addirittura attraverso quali strumenti, analisi e statistiche, l'Unione possa, nel quadro della ripartizione dei Fondi strutturali e degli aiuti per le zone disagiate, tener conto degli handicap strutturali delle isole. Questo atto di indirizzo è un atto dovuto alle comunità insulari, riconoscendone tanto il ruolo nella civiltà europea quanto quello odierno di importantissima risorsa ambientale quanto economica per l'Unione.

Se le isole saranno sostenute nell'innegabile limite per lo sviluppo che rappresenta ancora oggi per esse gli ostacoli dovuti all'insularità e se di questo si terrà nel debito conto nelle linee guida sui Fondi strutturali, l'Unione contribuirà sostanzialmente a rimuovere sperequazioni, addirittura discriminazioni, non solo ingiustificabili in ragione dell'acquis comunitario ma antitetiche al riconosciuto obiettivo di uno sviluppo equo e compatibile delle regioni d'Europa.

 
  
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  Νικόλαος Βακάλης (PPE-DE). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κυρίες και κύριοι συνάδελφοι, παρά τον διακηρυγμένο στόχο της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης για σύγκλιση των περιφερειών της, οι ιδιαιτερότητες των νησιωτικών περιοχών οδηγούν σε απόκλιση. Οι πόροι των διαρθρωτικών ταμείων δεν είχαν το αναμενόμενο αποτέλεσμα για τις περιοχές αυτές. Πρέπει ως εκ τούτου να σχεδιαστούν νέες δράσεις και να ληφθούν ειδικά μέτρα για τα νησιά. Η συστηματική παρακολούθηση και καταγραφή της ανάπτυξής τους σε σύγκριση με τις υπόλοιπες περιφέρειες της Ευρώπης θα είναι ένα χρήσιμο εργαλείο.

Χαίρομαι για την ενσωμάτωση μιας σειράς θεμάτων στην έκθεση που ψηφίζουμε σήμερα, όπως η επανεξέταση των όρων συμβάσεων για διευκόλυνση των μεταφορών και συγκοινωνιών και σε γραμμές χαμηλού εμπορικού ενδιαφέροντος, η εξασφάλιση της ενεργειακής επάρκειας με έμφαση και προτεραιότητα στις ανανεώσιμες πηγές ενέργειας, μελέτη και μέτρα για την επίδραση των κλιματικών αλλαγών που επιδεινώνουν υπάρχοντα προβλήματα όπως η λειψυδρία, ευρυζωνική κάλυψη ώστε να διευκολυνθεί η καθημερινότητα των νησιωτών και να δοθούν λύσεις σε σημαντικά προβλήματα, ανάπτυξη με ορθό και ελεγχόμενο τρόπο που θα προστατέψει τη φυσιογνωμία των νησιών, αντιμετώπιση του προβλήματος της λαθρομετανάστευσης και του ελέγχου των συνόρων με τη σύσταση ευρωπαϊκής ακτοφυλακής.

Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κυρίες και κύριοι συνάδελφοι, με τη σημερινή έκθεση κάνουμε μια καλή αρχή. Για να έχουμε όμως το επιθυμητό αποτέλεσμα, καλώ την Επιτροπή να προτείνει άμεσα μέτρα και δράσεις, για να γίνουν πραγματικότητα όσα έχουμε καταγράψει στην έκθεση πρωτοβουλίας.

Κλείνοντας θέλω να ευχαριστήσω και να συγχαρώ τον εισηγητή κ. Musotto για τη σημαντική και συστηματική δουλειά που έκανε.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (PSE). – Mr President, an island holiday may be the stuff of dreams in terms of getting away from it all, but living and working on islands can pose many difficulties, and we should acknowledge this in our policy-making.

I congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Musotto, on his report, which outlines the natural and economic constraints faced by islands in the context of regional policy. The report deals with the singular difficulties that many islands face in competing successfully with their counterparts on the mainland.

The report usefully identifies categories of islands: some are large – 5 island regions have populations exceeding 500 000 and account for 75% of the European island population – whilst the remainder are much smaller.

I am more familiar with the problems faced by smaller islands, such as those off the coast of my native Scotland. For example, only this week it has been reported that twice as many young women than men are leaving the Hebrides. If this continues, the population will not be sustainable from 2019.

As Mr Musotto’s report outlines, there are also common difficulties faced by islands, for example higher prices, difficult terrain, remoteness and poor infrastructure. I support the call for these problems to be recognised in regional policy.

 
  
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  Alfonso Andria (ALDE). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, desidero innanzitutto congratularmi vivamente con il collega Musotto per l'eccellente lavoro svolto. Ho espresso sensibilità al tema delle specificità insulari, intervenendo nel processo negoziale dei nuovi regolamenti sulla politica di coesione in qualità di relatore sul regolamento per il Fondo di coesione e in qualità di relatore-ombra sul regolamento generale e per quello relativo al Fondo europeo per lo sviluppo regionale.

So bene pertanto che il Parlamento ha riconosciuto la condizione di svantaggio delle isole e ha ribadito che esse rappresentano un patrimonio naturale e culturale per tutti noi europei. L'Unione europea deve sapere sostenere e valorizzare questi territori, garantendo le risorse necessarie al loro sviluppo armonioso nel rispetto del principio di coesione territoriale, consentendo un'applicazione più flessibile delle politiche in materia di aiuti di Stato e assicurando una protezione efficace delle peculiarità ambientali.

Particolare attenzione dovrebbe poi essere accordata alle isole lontane dai grossi centri abitati, che incontrano enormi difficoltà ad accedere ai servizi, anche di base, sviluppando una politica marittima comunitaria in grado di stabilire con i paesi limitrofi solide relazioni economico-commerciali.

Il collega Musotto mi trova molto d'accordo sulla necessità di migliorare i collegamenti e le infrastrutture di trasporto – mi riferisco a porti e ad aeroporti – nonché sulla necessità di compensazione di maggiori costi, soprattutto energetici, dovuti alla loro posizione geografica. Trovo inoltre interessante la proposta del relatore di istituire un corpo europeo di guardie costiere per la sorveglianza delle frontiere esterne dell'Unione europea, considerando che uno dei problemi che più affliggono le nostre isole è quello dell'immigrazione illegale via mare.

In conclusione vorrei esprimere condivisione per la bella proposta dell'onorevole Musotto di designare il 2010 come Anno europeo delle isole.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL). – Para concretizar de forma real a proclamada coesão económica e social é necessário não só promover a convergência real dos Estados-Membros economicamente menos desenvolvidos, os países da coesão, mas também promover a redução das disparidades regionais, impulsionando um desenvolvimento harmonioso do território de cada Estado-Membro.

Nesse sentido, torna-se indispensável, igualmente através do reforço dos recursos financeiros da política de coesão, apoiar as regiões mais desfavorecidas e as regiões com problemas estruturais, contribuindo para a eliminação de obstáculos ao desenvolvimento regional decorrentes de permanentes desvantagens naturais e geográficas, existentes, por exemplo, nas regiões insulares.

Apesar do reconhecimento das desvantagens estruturais relativamente às ilhas, a estratégia seguida não tem sido coerente, pelo que consideramos positivos aspectos sublinhados no presente relatório, como, por exemplo, o aumento da taxa de co-financiamento comunitário a partir dos critérios de elegibilidade existentes ou a flexibilidade na autorização da concessão de auxílios estatais a estas regiões, de forma a atenuar os custos dos combustíveis, dos transporte e da energia, como factor de diferenciação positiva destas regiões.

A questão central que se coloca não é a do reconhecimento dos obstáculos já amplamente sublinhados ou a da competição entre as regiões desfavorecidas quanto às prioridades, mas a insuficiência de meios financeiros para a coesão, como demonstrado no presente quadro financeiro 2007-2013, no âmbito do qual os Fundos Estruturais viram o seu peso reduzido de 0,41% para 0,37% do RNB e foram estabelecidos, como prioridade, os objectivos liberalizadores e privatizadores da Estratégia de Lisboa que agravam as vantagens competitivas específicas destas regiões.

 
  
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  Margie Sudre (PPE-DE). – Madame le Commissaire, mes chers collègues, sur la base de l'article 158 du traité et de la déclaration sur les régions insulaires qui lui est annexée, l'Union européenne prend en compte les handicaps et les contraintes dont souffrent ces régions en adoptant des mesures spécifiques afin de favoriser l'intégration des îles européennes dans le marché intérieur. Mais Francesco Musotto, que je remercie d'avoir soutenu mes amendements en commission du développement régional, est, aujourd'hui, tout à fait fondé à interpeller la Commission européenne sur la véritable mise en œuvre de ces dispositions.

Au préalable, je tiens à rappeler que les concepts d'ultrapériphérité et d'insularité sont tout à fait distincts, quels que soient les liens de proximité et de solidarité qui les unissent, dès lors que les régions ultrapériphériques ont pour caractéristiques principales leur très grand éloignement du continent européen et leur appartenance à une zone géographique qui est composée, en grande majorité, de pays ACP.

L'insularité constitue à la fois un atout géographique et culturel qui représente un potentiel à mettre en valeur dans une stratégie de développement appropriée, mais aussi un handicap permanent qui ajoute une difficulté supplémentaire pour la compétitivité de ces régions.

Le principe de cohésion territoriale, renforcé dans la réglementation sur les fonds structurels pour la période 2007-2013, doit avoir pour objet l'intégration polycentrique du territoire de l'Union de façon à permettre l'égalité des chances pour toutes les régions et leur population. Et au-delà des mesures que vous avez évoquées, Madame le Commissaire, je demande à la Commission d'intégrer davantage la possibilité offerte par le traité de moduler les politiques communautaires qui sont susceptibles d'avoir des répercussions négatives sur le développement économique et social de ces régions, afin de remédier concrètement aux problèmes majeurs qui frappent spécifiquement chaque région ou groupe de régions insulaires.

Pour terminer, je voudrais nous féliciter de ce que ce type de débat ait lieu à une heure convenable et non pas à 23 heures comme c'est trop souvent le cas, Monsieur le Président.

 
  
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  Le Président. – Je m'en réjouis aussi parce que j'ai toujours pensé que cette question était importante et méritait d'être abordée par l'Union européenne, y compris dans les traités. Jadis, je m'y suis beaucoup attaché.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (PSE). – Panie Przewodniczący! Każde rozszerzenie Unii wiąże się z systematycznym wzrostem roli wysp we wszystkich wspólnotowych politykach. Począwszy od spójności terytorialnej po turystykę i kulturę. Niestety dotychczasowa polityka Unii w niewielkim stopniu uwzględnia specyficzne uwarunkowania wysp i problemy, jakie napotykają one chcąc konkurować z regionami położonymi na kontynencie.

W tym względzie istnieje pilna potrzeba określenia wskaźników statystycznych, które pomogą określić specyfikę wszystkich obszarów o trudnych warunkach geograficznych. Ponadto niezbędnym jest uwzględnienie potrzeby dostępu do wspólnego rynku terenów wyspiarskich na takich samych zasadach, jakie istnieją na kontynencie, z priorytetowym traktowaniem udoskonalenia połączeń transportowych na wyspach. Każda Komisja powinna rozważyć przyznanie specjalnej pomocy także tym regionom, gdyż koszty paliwa i energii mają wyraźnie niekorzystny wpływ na ich konkurencyjność.

Kolejnym priorytetem jest bezpieczeństwo energetyczne wysp oraz realizacja projektu w tym zakresie, w oparciu o odnawialne źródła energii i nowe technologie. Komisja powinna także zbadać wpływ zmian klimatycznych na regiony wyspiarskie.

Doceniając działania podejmowane przez agencję FRONTEX, należy podkreślić potrzebę kontrolowania w sposób ciągły wpływu nielegalnej migracji na społeczności wyspiarskie. Państwa członkowskie nie mogą zapominać o zapewnieniu skutecznej ochrony wyjątkowego charakteru regionów wyspiarskich pod względem ochrony środowiska, bogactw kultury i zrównoważonego rozwoju turystyki będącej także czynnikiem wzrostu innych sektorów takich jak handel, rybołówstwo czy rolnictwo.

Na koniec chciałam pogratulować sprawozdawcy bardzo dobrze przygotowanego dokumentu.

 
  
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  Giusto Catania (GUE/NGL). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, credo che sia utile discutere di un intervento economico specifico a supporto delle isole, delle loro peculiarità e caratteristiche, e credo che sia utile che la politica di coesione si occupi in particolare delle regioni ultraperiferiche.

Ritengo che si debba intervenire affinché vi sia un reale miglioramento del sistema dei trasporti e delle infrastrutture, dei collegamenti tra l'esterno e l'interno e anche dei collegamenti interni alle isole, ad esempio tra le coste e la parte interna, evitando di utilizzare risorse europee per faraoniche opere inutili, spesso pensate per collegare le isole con la terraferma con enormi ponti, che certamente corromperebbero anche l'idea stessa di insularità.

Pur apprezzando l'impianto della relazione del collega Musotto, penso che essa ponga eccessiva enfasi nel caratterizzare il rapporto tra le isole e l'immigrazione irregolare. Non c'è alcuna relazione. La stragrande maggioranza dei migranti nelle Canarie arriva in aereo e non via mare, come pure la stragrande maggioranza degli immigrati irregolari in Italia non sbarca a Lampedusa ma arriva anch'essa in aereo.

Si tratta pertanto di un argomento, a mio avviso, fuori luogo, ragion per cui ritengo che questo aspetto non sia probabilmente organico alla relazione del collega Musotto. Dovremmo inoltre interrogarci sul fatto che l'attivazione di squadre d'intervento rapido alle frontiere è probabilmente più utile per evitare la morte di emigranti nel Mediterraneo piuttosto che per arginarne l'arrivo.

 
  
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  Rolf Berend (PPE-DE). – Herr Präsident, Frau Kommissarin, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Ich möchte nur einen wichtigen Bereich aus dem sehr guten Bericht meines Kollegen Francesco Musotto herausgreifen, der nicht nur für die betroffenen Inseln, sondern für die gesamte EU von nicht zu unterschätzender Bedeutung ist, nämlich das Problem der illegalen Einwanderung.

Dieses Problem der illegalen Einwanderung, von dem die Inseln der EU im Mittelmeer ausgesprochen überproportional betroffen sind, muss meines Erachtens mit größerer Effektivität angegangen werden. Auch wenn durch Maßnahmen der Union bereits Fortschritte erzielt wurden – zum Beispiel durch die Entwicklung eines integrierten Grenzschutzsystems und die Festlegung eines Gemeinschaftskodexes für das Überschreiten der Grenzen jeglicher Art durch Personen –, zeigen die Einwanderungszahlen doch, dass die Maßnahmen noch nicht ausreichen.

Auch wenn die Zuständigkeit für Maßnahmen klar bei den Mitgliedstaaten liegt und da auch in Zukunft wird bleiben müssen, darf den Inseln die übermäßige Last aufgrund ihrer geografischen Lage nicht allein aufgebürdet werden, denn das vordergründig spanische, italienische oder griechische Problem ist nämlich in der Folge ein gesamteuropäisches, das eben deshalb auch Reaktionen auf Gemeinschaftsebene bedarf. Solidarität durch gemeinsames Handeln ist hier erforderlich und muss in Realität umgesetzt werden.

In diesem Zusammenhang ist die Einrichtung einer europäischen Küstenwache zur Überwachung der Außengrenze der EU sicherlich kein Allheilmittel in dieser Inselproblematik. Aber dieser Vorschlag des Kollegen Musotto sollte doch dahingehend geprüft werden, ob dies gegebenenfalls eine von vielen Maßnahmen gegen illegale Einwanderung zum Schutz der Inseln und der gesamten EU sein kann.

 
  
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  Paulo Casaca (PSE). – Senhor Presidente, Senhor relator, enquanto deputado eleito pela Região Autónoma dos Açores, uma região ultraperiférica, cujo estatuto não deve ser confundido com o das regiões insulares - como muito bem salientou a nossa colega Margie Sudre - gostaria de saudar vivamente o relator Francesco Musotto, bem como toda a Comissão da Política Regional, pelo excelente trabalho que fizeram. Gostaria de destacar, muito em particular, a proposta relativa à guarda costeira europeia, que é uma proposta fundamental para a defesa do ambiente marinho, o controlo das pescas, o apoio à navegação e, nomeadamente, o controlo das normas internacionais em matéria de segurança e trabalho, e também, naturalmente, a problemática da imigração. Em relação a este último aspecto, não está em causa se se está contra ou a favor. A realidade é que há pessoas que embarcam sem quaisquer condições e têm de receber apoio enquanto se encontram no alto mar. Desse ponto de vista, gostaria de salientar que por trás deste projecto da guarda costeira europeia não existe - contrariamente àquilo que alguns colegas aqui afirmaram - uma agenda securitária. Existe sim uma visão da política marítima europeia que é imprescindível para todas as regiões insulares e, muito em especial, para as regiões ultraperiféricas.

 
  
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  Sérgio Marques (PPE-DE). – Senhor Presidente, caros Colegas, Senhora Comissária, em primeiro lugar, gostaria de felicitar o colega Musotto pela elevada qualidade do relatório que agora apreciamos sobre a problemática das regiões insulares.

Na verdade, e tal como é bem evidenciado no relatório, a insularidade é uma realidade inultrapassável e permanente que condiciona gravemente a capacidade concorrencial destas regiões. Faz, por isso, todo o sentido que se exijam medidas específicas por parte da União Europeia no âmbito das diferentes políticas comuns, em resposta a esta situação de desigualdade competitiva em que se encontram as regiões insulares relativamente às regiões continentais.

Esta necessidade foi reconhecida pelos tratados, mas, infelizmente, nunca concretizada de uma forma global e coerente. Além disso, a necessidade de uma resposta europeia no sentido de mitigar a desvantagem competitiva de que sofrem as regiões insulares é tanto maior quanto os tempos actuais são de procura de uma acrescida competitividade europeia no contexto internacional.

Importa, por isso, que a União Europeia responda de uma forma inovadora aos problemas específicos das regiões insulares e que afectam a sua competitividade. É necessária uma resposta da União Europeia que ajude as regiões insulares a melhor tirarem proveito de dinâmicas fortemente competitivas, como sejam o grande mercado interno europeu, a União Económica e Monetária e a Estratégia de Lisboa.

Gostaria, por isso, de apoiar, em particular, a recomendação do relatório no sentido da criação, no âmbito da Direcção-Geral de Política Regional e à semelhança do que já existe para as regiões ultraperiféricas, de uma unidade administrativa encarregue de definir e impulsionar uma estratégia europeia para as regiões insulares. Só assim a realidade muito particular das regiões insulares será devidamente considerada no contexto de políticas como as dos transportes, da energia, do ambiente, do turismo, da fiscalidade, dos auxílios de Estado, etc.

 
  
  

PRESIDENZA DELL'ON. LUIGI COCILOVO
Vicepresidente

 
  
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  Andrzej Jan Szejna (PSE). – Panie Przewodniczący! Na wstępie chciałbym bardzo podziękować sprawozdawcy i pogratulować wnikliwego przedstawienia problematyki ograniczeń naturalnych i gospodarczych w regionach wyspiarskich w odniesieniu do polityki regionalnej. Szczególny charakter tych obszarów jest z reguły uznawany przez większość państw członkowskich.

Jednak, pomimo wysiłków realizowanych w ramach polityki regionalnej, miejsce regionów wyspiarskich w klasyfikacji na podstawie regionalnego PKB praktycznie nie uległo zmianie w ciągu ostatnich dwudziestu lat. Cieszy fakt, że Komisja Europejska zauważyła, iż PKB per capita i stopa bezrobocia są uważane za niewystarczające wskaźniki służące do pomiaru sytuacji społeczno-ekonomicznej w odniesieniu do regionów znajdujących się w niekorzystnych warunkach naturalnych.

Na tych obszarach możliwości konstruktywnego reagowania na zmiany zachodzące w gospodarce są ograniczone, a kryzysy gospodarcze bardziej dotkliwie dotykają gospodarek wyspiarskich. Sytuacja gospodarcza w regionach wyspiarskich często uzależniona jest od ograniczonej ilości sektorów gospodarczych. Wyspy są w znacznym stopniu uzależnione od sektora publicznego.

Innym, ważnym problemem podnoszonym przez pozostałych mówców jest nielegalna imigracja. Zgadzam się ze sprawozdawcą, że Komisja powinna sporządzić ocenę specjalnych potrzeb regionów wyspiarskich oraz przedstawić propozycje ich rozwiązania, a także, że problem ten powinien zostać należycie uwzględniony w czwartym raporcie na temat spójności.

 
  
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  Den Dover (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I come from the United Kingdom and of course we have several large islands there. But we also have the western islands of Scotland and these were briefly mentioned by my colleagues from the Scottish part of the United Kingdom.

You will know, Mr President, when you were President of the Malta delegation, as does Mr Busuttil, that Malta is suffering a lot of illegal immigration at the moment. This is a matter that needs urgent attention, as Mr Berend pointed out. I go each year to the Canary Islands. They too have suffered enormous immigration. Illegal immigration from Africa has already been mentioned this morning.

But I want to emphasise in my speech today two paragraphs. One has the full support of the British Conservatives, that is paragraph 26, which talks about the need to really home in on this very important matter of illegal immigration. But there is another, paragraph 25, which Mr Berend mentioned, where I dispute and disagree with some of the findings or recommendations put forward by the rapporteur in what is otherwise a very excellent report.

First of all, the report mentions rapid border intervention teams with the purpose of providing swift operational technical assistance to any Member State requesting it. I agree that is very important, but when it goes on to say that it urges the Commission to examine the need for the creation of a European coastguard body to assist in parallel these regions and the Member States in monitoring the EU’s external borders, I think that is far too wide a remit. If the isolated islands want a concentrated coastguard specialist brigade helping them, fine, but not for the United Kingdom, not for the bigger islands. We do not want too large an agency.

 
  
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  Emanuel Jardim Fernandes (PSE). – Senhor Presidente, Senhora Comissária, começo por felicitar o relator pelo seu excelente relatório. Proveniente de uma região insular mas também ultraperiférica, e por esta razão reconhecida e especificamente tratada no Tratado da União, posso afirmar que, com esta iniciativa, o Parlamento dá uma boa visão não apenas das dificuldades estruturais permanentes de todas as regiões insulares que afectam a vida das suas cidadãs e dos seus cidadãos, mas também das suas potencialidades, que também são potencialidades da União.

Sem as suas ilhas e, de uma forma especial, sem as suas regiões ultraperiféricas, que beneficiam de um tratamento justamente diferenciado, a União não teria a dimensão que tem no mundo, nem disporia da zona marítima de que dispõe, a que se juntam, certamente, as vantagens da nova política marítima europeia em consulta pública. A coesão, um dos objectivos fundamentais da União, só será conseguida se estas regiões puderem contar com solidariedade para promover a redução e eliminação dos obstáculos que afectam o seu desenvolvimento.

É, por conseguinte, necessário promover a adequação das políticas da União, designadamente em matéria de transportes, energia, contratos de prestação de serviço público e ajudas de Estado, por forma a assegurar pleno emprego, crescimento económico, integração no mercado interno, modelo europeu, objectivos da renovada Estratégia de Lisboa. Daí que solicite à Sra. Comissária e igualmente à Comissão que tenham em conta a transposição das políticas a adoptar no futuro no âmbito do desenvolvimento e da política regional.

 
  
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  Antonio López-Istúriz White (PPE-DE). – Señor Presidente, no puedo ni debo dejar de expresarle mi satisfacción por este informe de iniciativa a mi colega, el señor Musotto, ya que representa un paso hacia adelante en la consideración de las islas, dentro del marco de la política regional de la Unión Europea, como regiones desfavorecidas por sus limitaciones geográficas, naturales, estructurales y permanentes, que ralentizan su desarrollo socioeconómico.

Comparto con el ponente la opinión de que las eurorregiones desempeñan una función importante, tanto en los proyectos locales de intercambio de buenas prácticas, como en el ámbito de la cooperación transfronteriza.

Con este objetivo, las Islas Baleares forman parte de la eurorregión Pirineos-Mediterráneo. Asimismo, aplaudo la especial mención del ponente al tema de la inmigración ilegal. Aprovecho esta intervención para agradecerle que tuviera en cuenta, a la hora de redactar sus propuestas de transacción, las enmiendas que mi colega, el señor don Fernando Fernández, y yo mismo pusimos al apartado en cuestión del informe que hoy analizamos.

Insistimos en esas enmiendas, e insisto hoy de nuevo en señalar la gran fragilidad de las islas ante la inmigración ilegal por su especial situación geográfica. Por ello se hace necesario integrar las cuestiones de emigración y de desarrollo en el marco de las políticas de ayuda de la Unión, así como en su programación, tanto a través de los fondos que componen el nuevo programa marco de solidaridad y gestión de los flujos migratorios como a través de los instrumentos de política regional, especialmente el Fondo Social Europeo y el Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional.

El Tratado de Amsterdam, en su Anejo 30, reconoció las peculiariedades que supone la insularidad, pero, desafortunadamente, este reconocimiento en el Tratado no se ha visto implementado con acciones efectivas y medidas específicas necesarias para atenuar y corregir los inevitables sobrecostes derivados de las características de las islas.

Mi procedencia, las Islas Baleares, la del ponente, Sicilia, así como la de tantos de mis colegas, nos sensibiliza en la lucha para vencer las dificultades que supone la insularidad para nuestras regiones.

Por ello pedimos a la Comisión, a los Estados miembros y al Consejo, además de medias específicas para paliar estas desventajas, ayudas y entendimiento para esta especial situación.

 
  
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  Giuseppe Castiglione (PPE-DE). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, vorrei innanzitutto ringraziare il collega Musotto per l'eccellente lavoro svolto, nell'avere dato rilevanza ai problemi delle regioni insulari, problemi che ho vissuto personalmente e di cui avverto tutta la complessità.

La politica di coesione economica e sociale è essenziale per ridurre il divario tra i livelli di sviluppo delle varie regioni e in questo contesto particolare attenzione va prestata alla realtà delle isole e ringrazio il Commissario per avervi fatto cenno.

Un migliore sviluppo delle nostre isole significa potenziare le infrastrutture, migliorare i collegamenti, il trasporto integrato e affrontare i problemi e i nodi critici dell'approvvigionamento idrico ed energetico. Bisogna rendere competitive e più attraenti le nostre realtà insulari, come l'agricoltura, la pesca, l'artigianato e il turismo. Bisogna puntare a creare condizioni favorevoli per una piena occupazione, ad attirare investimenti privati e, allo stesso tempo, assicurare uno standard di vita e uno sviluppo sostenibile nettamente superiore a quello attuale, anche attraverso la promozione e lo sviluppo delle energie alternativa e delle nuove tecnologie.

Infine, non possiamo sottovalutare l'impatto che l'immigrazione illegale esercita ogni giorno di più sulle comunità insulari, soprattutto nel Mediterraneo. Si tratta di un onere sproporzionato, che le isole non possono e non devono affrontare da sole. Deve essere nostra priorità trovare una soluzione globale e responsabile, che includa mezzi per fare fronte alle situazioni di emergenza legate all'arrivo in massa di immigrati – che purtroppo non giungono soltanto in aereo – attraverso le frontiere marittime, nel rispetto dei diritti fondamentali.

È urgente quindi ridurre il ritardo delle isole attraverso una politica di vera e autentica solidarietà, che alimenti il consenso delle popolazioni insulari verso la nuova Unione europea. Mi congratulo ancora con il collega Musotto per l'ottimo lavoro svolto e per aver centrato i tanti temi importanti per le nostre isole.

 
  
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  Neelie Kroes, Member of the Commission. Mr President, it has been a most interesting debate.

Let me start by congratulating the rapporteur, Mr Musotto, on his report – which I did not do in my opening remarks –and for bringing this issue before us today in the first ever report dedicated to islands. He has made history!

Much has been said this morning about state aids, and I should like to respond to that first. Again, operating aid – aid aimed at reducing a firms current expenses – is normally prohibited. It is prohibited in the Treaty and it is prohibited by the regional aid guidelines, because of its highly distortive effect. That being said, it can be granted exceptionally in the poorest regions that are lagging behind in terms of regional development.

The regions that can benefit from operating aid are, as you are aware, the 87(3)(a) regions, which are the outermost and sparsely populated regions, provided that a number of conditions are fulfilled. In the poorest regions and, again, the 87(3)(a) regions, operating aid can be authorised only on a case-by-case basis, provided it is limited in time, degressive, proportionate, and designed to tackle specific structural handicaps.

In reply to Mrs Sudre, as you are aware, the Commission accords a particular status to the outermost regions, given their remoteness and specific constraints on integrating into the internal market.

For islands other than outermost regions, a generalised approach based on the characteristics of these regions seems rather difficult. Enormous differences exist between island regions in Europe, and you are an example of that. They are characterised by a large diversity, and in terms of regional development and their GDP per capita, a significant number of large islands are rather wealthy, as some of you rightly pointed out. Granting operating aid to an island that has a GDP per capita among the highest in the EU would completely distort competition in the relevant markets without any justification in terms of regional development. Thus, the Commission cannot accord the status of assisted area to all European islands, given their extreme diversity.

In response to Mr Arnaoutakis, I note that subsidising fuel and energy costs constitutes operating aid. Such aid can only be authorised if the general conditions – which I have just touched upon – are fulfilled. It must not prop up structurally loss-making activities, particularly those that are very damaging, for example, to our environmental or climate change objectives. Furthermore, regional operating aid is certainly not the best instrument to tackle the local problems of islands.

As I mentioned in my opening remarks, the islands’ main problems can be tackled more effectively with horizontal instruments. For example, local services that are not economically viable can be supported through services of general economic interest. Work and investment for all kinds of infrastructure can be financed. They do not have an aid element and, in the case of very small islands in particular, the de minimis aid and the EUR 200 000 threshold can be sufficient, as I mentioned.

As regards Mrs Attwooll’s comment about the market investor principle, I believe that we can apply a more refined economic approach to assess situations of market failure in islands and proposed investments. However, as I have mentioned already, making the rules more predictable and more transparent and reducing the administrative burden of state aid notification are objectives of the state aid reform. I understand the specific concerns of smaller businesses, who have to try to pick their way through the state aid maze, and we agree upon this.

That is why I have followed up on the suggestion made by some of you that the Commission should provide user-friendly guidance explaining our rules clearly and simply. My services have now almost completed a full update of a vade mecum offering a concise overview of the basic EU rules on state aid. The vade mecum does not aim to provide an exhaustive description of the rules. Instead, it focuses on the issues that are most relevant for people involved in regional development. I hope to have this vade mecum on line on the DG Competition Europe website very shortly, in a couple of weeks time, and I would be happy to provide copies to interested Members.

I would now like to turn to four wider issues raised by some Members. Mr Smith mentioned the need for statistics. The Commission is working well with Eurostat on a regular basis. This May we will publish the Fourth Cohesion Report, which will include more statistics. Mr Smith also mentioned access to the transmission network for renewable energy. It is indeed vital and that is why the Commission takes the view that full structural unbundling of energy markets is the best solution to the problems of concentration and foreclosure of new entrants we have experienced in these markets.

Several Members suggested the need for a specific unit on islands in DG Regional Policy. I will certainly take good note of this, but, as you are aware, it is my colleague, Mrs Hübner, who is taking the decisions here and not me. I am sure she will examine your idea carefully.

Finally, we will look carefully at your proposal for designating 2010 as the Year of Islands, but I assure you that the Commission will continue to pursue the best interests of islands in 2007, 2008 and 2009, so do not think that we are neglecting this important issue. On the contrary.

 
  
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  Presidente. La discussione è chiusa.

La votazione si svolgerà alle 12.00.

Dichiarazioni scritte (articolo 142)

 
  
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  John Attard-Montalto (PSE), in writing. – One of the contexts where Malta is concerned relates to illegal immigration: ‘islands are in the front line of defence against this problem; all are suffering under the weight of illegal immigration’. In fact, the Commission’s decision to set up four funds is giving visibility to the concept of ‘solidarity in action’.

In the case of Gozo, Malta’s sister island, we have a scenario of double insularity. The Commission has highlighted the special situation of islands in the guidelines on (i) National regional aid for 2007-2013 and on (ii) state aid and risk capital for small and medium-sized undertakings. But that does not address the issue where fuel and energy costs adversely affect the competitiveness of the communities living in such islands.

The economic activities prevalent in islands, notably tourism, agriculture, fisheries and crafts, need special attention. Tourism represents one of the primary sources of wealth creation in islands with spin offs on other sectors – fisheries, agriculture, crafts. But what importance do we give tourism in the European Parliament? Perhaps the prevalent thought is that it is a natural issue, as one very senior Commissioner put it. On the contrary, it is about time that the European Parliament set up a separate committee on tourism, as at present it is part of the Transport Committee and hardly appears on any agenda.

 
  
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  Louis Grech (PSE), in writing. – The report has quite a number of recommendations that go a long way to addressing a host of disadvantages which are very specific to small islands. We expect the Commission to take on board and implement the recommendation outlined in Mr Musotto’s report. Islands – whether in the outermost regions or not – suffer from natural geographical limitations that severely affect the inhabitants’ lives on a daily basis, both economically and socially.

Small islands like the island of Gozo in Malta are the first to feel the effects of high transport costs, lack of investment, problems of communication, high rates of unemployment, social separation, and a more restrictive choice in the opportunities available. In theory it is well recognised and accepted in the EU that islands, especially small ones, have to be assisted to overcome these natural disadvantages. It is time to translate the well meaning objectives into concrete action.

 
Atnaujinta: 2007 m. kovo 26 d.Teisinis pranešimas