All posts by camilledressler

Future of the Crown Estate Consultation

Future of the Crown Estate: Consultation for shaping the Crown Estate in Scotland.

A 12 week consultation on the long term framework for the devolved management of the Crown Estate in Scotland was announced today during a visit to Rhu Marina, Helensburgh.

Devolution of the management and revenue of the Crown Estate in Scotland through the Scotland Act 2016 provides an opportunity to increase the benefits to Scotland and local communities.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Control over the management and resources of the Crown Estate in Scotland should rest with the people of Scotland and this is a genuine opportunity to change the fabric of Scottish Society.

“This consultation is a once in a lifetime opportunity to help shape the future management of The Crown Estate in Scotland. Good Management of our land, marine environment and other natural resources is essential for Scotland’s future prosperity.

“I would encourage all those interested to respond to the consultation and help us to assume our new powers in a way which creates solutions which meet Scotland’s needs and interests.”

Amanda Bryan, Shadow Chairing Member of Crown Estate Scotland said:

“From the 1st of April decisions about both the day to day management and the future of the estate will be taken in Scotland which is a huge step forward. I along with the staff of the new interim management body will seek to manage the estate responsibly, delivering benefits to our partners, tenants and communities and ensuring that it remains in good order for the next phase.”

Background

The Scottish Government is taking a phased approach on devolution of the management of the Crown Estate. The consultation launched today will inform the second phase of devolution.

The consultation on the proposals will run until 29 March Details can be found on the Scottish Government website at: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/crown-estate-strategy-unit/long-term-management-of-the-crown-estate

The Scotland Act 2016 introduced a new era for the management of Crown assets in Scotland. The Crown Estate in Scotland includes a diverse portfolio of property, rights and interests that influence many aspects of rural and coastal life in Scotland. The value of Crown Estate property in Scotland was £271.8 million and gross annual revenue was £14 million in 2015/16.

Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) is being established as a Public Corporation. It will take on its asset management role from 1 April 2017 subject to the completion of transfer of powers at Westminster. The Scottish Government is working to safeguard a smooth transfer for staff and ensure that the interim body provides stability and continuity of service to those who rely on existing Crown Estate leases or services as the management responsibilities are devolved to Scotland, particularly during the time needed for establishing a new permanent framework.

Rhu Marina is owned by The Crown Estate and leased to Quay Marinas, who operate the facility 24 hours a day.

info from http://news.gov.scot/news/future-of-the-crown-estate

Scotland’s place in Europe: differentiation is the name of the game

Scotland’s place in Europe: Differentiation is the key issue, says Scottish Government

Scotland needs to protect its access to the Single Market

The Scottish Government is making the case for Scotland retaining access to the Single market.

Scotland’s Place in Europe, the paper produced by the Scottish Government last December clearly states Scotland’s interests would be best, though not comprehensively, secured by the continuation of the rights and freedoms Scottish and UK citizens currently enjoy as members of the European Single Market, along with the broader economic and social benefits which adhering to the free movement for persons, goods and capital it provides.

Short of full EU membership, the least worst outcome for the UK as a whole would be to retain full membership of the European Single Market through the European Economic Area, and to remain in the Customs Union.

Remaining in the EEA would mean being part of an existing structure for engagement, which would provide greater certainty for businesses and citizens. Given the many years, perhaps decades, of uncertainty involved in the pursuit of bespoke deals with the EU and other world trade partners, Scotland’s interests would be best served if the UK retained its membership of the EEA.

Differentiation is the name of the game

The paper’s proposals on differentiation offer a feasible way to reconcile what now appears to be the UK’s current position to exit the EU and the Single Market with the democratic wishes of a majority of the Scottish electorate and their elected politicians, and will best mitigate the risks that Brexit poses to the Scottish economic and social interests.

An acceptance of the need for, and the case for, differentiation would be the first step towards detailed, constructive discussion of these options and others. 


The proposal would require very detailed discussion and negotiation. But this is worth the effort as this option is capable of meeting Scotland’s requirements for continued trade within the European Single Market, adherence to the “four freedoms” and implementation of the range of “flanking” policies which support and complement the operation of the European Single Market, while providing a feasible structure for continued free trade and movement across the UK.

Building on existing relationship

The proposal also has the merit of complementing and building on the existing relationships.

For instance, the Faroe Islands, not an independent state, is currently exploring the possibility of joining EFTA – a possibility that is under consideration5. It is envisaged that Denmark would “sponsor” the Faroe Islands membership of EFTA. This shows that a sub-state may enter into international agreements. In similar circumstances, and with its own legal system and strong tadministrative capabilities, Scotland would be well placed to meet those requirements.

If the UK Government could seek to maintain its current EEA membership, through an application for EFTA membership, it could then  seek a territorial exemption so that this membership would only apply to Scotland (unless other devolved administrations also requested it).

There is precedent for territorial exemptions in the EFTA Agreement. For example, Svalbard, which forms part of Norway’s EFTA membership, has elements of the EFTA agreement dis-applied to recognise its unique geographic and trading position.  (It could be certainly argued that Scotland’s islands confers it  a unique geographical position, and this should certainly emphasised , suggests the Scottish Islands Federation).  Unlike the “reverse Greenland” proposition, this option would be consistent with the referendum outcome, since it would only require formal UK membership of the EEA, and not of the EU.

Scotland must be allowed to put forward the differentiation option

It appears increasingly unlikely that the UK Government will choose to retain membership of the European Single Market through the EEA, a decision which could cost the Scottish economy up to around £11 billion per year.

The Scotland in Europe paper states the Scottish government’s intention to use the mechanism of the Joint Ministerial Committee structure to:

  1. a)  “Explore – openly, constructively and in good faith – options for a differentiated solution for Scotland that enables us to remain in the EEA while the rest of the UK leaves.
  2. b) Include any necessary commitment in the Article 50 letter to pursue a differentiated solution for Scotland that enables Scotland to remain within the European Single Market as the rest of the UK leaves.
  3. c)  Discuss, negotiate in the appropriate forums, and conclude the practical solutions and shared administrative arrangements we would need to put in place to make a differentiated solution work effectively. 
”

Potentially more devolved powers to Scotland

Policy for devolved functions currently subject to EU law must be the responsibility of Scottish Parliament, states the Scotland in Europe paper.

Some of the major devolved areas that will be affected include:

a) Agriculture, food and drink, in areas covered by the EU Common Agricultural Policy and EU law on food and drink, animal health and welfare, plant health, seeds, potatoes, pesticides and genetically modified organisms.

  1. b) Fisheries, aquaculture and the marine environment, which are subject to the EU Common Fisheries Policy and marine environment and planning laws.

c) Environmental protection, including laws on pollution, waste and recycling.

d) Civil law, in areas such as family law where the institutional and administrative arrangements which currently shape Scottish and European co-operation risk being undermined by the UK leaving the EU.

  1. e) Criminal law and law enforcement, particularly in relation to information sharing and co-operation, the European Arrest Warrant, prisoner-transfer agreements and counter-terrorism measures.
  2. f)  Health, where for example protections afforded under the European Health Insurance Card scheme are at risk.
  3. g)  Higher education and research, where Scotland has benefited from EU mechanisms for collaboration and funding.

Conclusion

A significant increase in devolution is required to protect Scotland’s key interests, including delivering any differentiated arrangement with the EU. A consequence of leaving the EU cannot and must not be that power is further concentrated in the UK Government and at Westminster.

Download  Scotland’s Place in Europe by clicking here.

other useful links:

 

 

 

Cost of living on islands still 40% higher

New HIE study updates rural cost of living in Scotland.

In 2013, Highlands and Islands Enterprise in partnership with a range of other public agencies commissioned the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) to establish a minimum income standard for remote rural Scotland including highlands and islands.

Discussions were centered on what was common and what was different in a minimum household ‘basket’ of goods and services in these communities, compared with other parts of the UK.

In 2016, HIE commissioned the CRSP to update the research.

Original study showed costs were up by 10-40%

The 2013 study found that the budgets required by households to achieve a minimum acceptable standard of living in remote rural Scotland were typically 10- 40% higher than elsewhere in the UK. For households in more remote island locations, these additional costs could exceed 40%.

The premiums were most modest for pensioners and greatest for single people and families with dependent children, and were driven by:

  • The higher prices that households were required to pay for food, clothes and household goods.
  • Considerably higher household fuel bills, influenced by climate and fuel sources.
  • The longer distances that people have to routinely travel, particularly to work.

Update shows no improvements in costs for rural areas.

The main findings of the updated report are as follows:

  •  In 2016, a minimum acceptable standard of living in remote rural Scotland typically requires between a tenth and a third more household spending than in urban parts of the UK.
  •  This picture is similar to 2013, although the lower price of petrol and diesel has significantly reduced the additional cost for people having to travel long distances, particularly regular travel for work.
  •   The additional costs come from a range of sources. In particular, the costs of travelling, heating one’s home and paying for goods and their delivery are much higher for many residents of the areas under review, especially those in the remotest areas.

    Conclusions

The update was asked to consider these costs are being and could addressed through national and regional policy:

  • Despite some easing of costs, the continuing high cost of living in remote rural Scotland, and its exposure to any renewed rise of energy costs, makes their mitigation as urgent as ever. A framework for addressing these costs needs to consider issues around energy costs, shopping costs and travel costs in a joined up way, which takes account of the influence of local infrastructure and the development of jobs and communities.
  • There is scope for some reduction on home energy costs, but mainstream energy efficiency measures have limited effect in the particular circumstances of remote rural Scotland. The Scottish Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force needs to identify particular ways in which energy efficiency improvements and better functioning markets and charging structures can be designed to meet the unique circumstances of remote rural Scotland.
  •   Retail costs could potentially go down if delivery networks are improved and charges reduced. Imaginative solutions are needed that use technology to join up delivery networks, and aim to reduce charges that are higher than they need to be.
  •  The best way to get travel costs down is for people to reduce the need to travel long distances for work. This requires a focus on developing more jobs that are both local and reasonably paid, which in turn requires the fostering of new skills in the workforce and the development of external markets.
  •  An improved infrastructure is needed to support these developments. In particular, the roll-out of high speed broadband is crucial, both for work and other purposes. Since a reliable network reaching all households is likely to be elusive in the medium term, the potential for having community hubs with good broadband and other amenities needs to be explored.
  •   All these improvements will work better to the extent that the population of the area can be maintained and boosted, especially among young adults. This requires in particular a focus on developing young people’s skills and opportunities, and on improving amenities such as mobile signal which are particularly important to them.

How will Brexit impact Britain’s waste management practices?

Brexit: a bad choice is no excuse for not moving towards zero waste

Joan Marc Simon of Zero Waste Europe says that it doesn’t have to mean the end of the path to a zero-waste future for Britain.

“Brexit means Brexit”. This is the most concise explanation we have received so far from the British authorities about how are they planning to implement the results of the referendum held in the UK in June 2016.

Not surprisingly, the immediate impacts of the referendum boosted the support for EU membership around the EU. However, one could think that after the first critical moments, things went back to normal; the economy continued to run, etc. And, after a few months, all seems ok.

Well, this is the result for Britain of continuing to live within the EU; in the Customs Union, in the Single Market and implementing the acquis communautaire. For as long as Article 50 is not invoked, the UK might be able to protect its economy, albeit hampering future investments in the country which will instead look for a place where there is more legal security.

But even when Brexit happens – if it ends up happening – there is agreement that the path to leave the EU will be long and tortuous with great potential to harm economy and negatively affect social and environmental standards in the UK.

With this article, I intend to analyse how the different scenarios of a Brexit might impact the waste sector in the UK.

But before that, let’s make one thing clear: from a democratic legitimacy standpoint, there is no reason why EU legislation implemented so far should stop being British law, for the simple reason that they were laws that were approved with the active participation of the British Government in the council negotiations and the British members of parliament in the European Parliament (EP). The European legislation is as British as it is Italian or German. Nevertheless, when contemplating the different types of European laws, one can make a difference about the legitimacy between EU Directives and EU Regulations.

Directives such as the Waste Framework Directive or the Industrial Emissions Directive were jointly approved by co-decision procedure by the Council and the EP, but they need to go through the national parliaments in order to be transposed into EU law into national law. Hence all directives have gone through the Westminster Parliament and they are fully legitimised to continue to be applicable.

Even more so, considering that normally, with transposition of an EU directive into national law, each Member State (MS) has a certain amount of leeway as to the exact rules to be adopted. Indeed, directives require Member States to achieve a particular result without dictating the means of achieving that result. So, there is nothing to prevent MSs from fixing higher national standards.

Regulations are something else: the European Commission and the Council can produce regulations which have the main characteristic that they need to be applied in MS and they don’t go through national parliaments, being directly applicable in its entirety and enforceable by law. The British legislators might feel legitimated to remove the regulations but this has the risk of creating loopholes or legal lacunae; for instance the waste shipment regulation rules the move of waste for recovery and disposal within EU borders and to the outside. If the Shipment Regulation was repealed, it would mean that the UK needs to create a new law that is compatible with the Waste Framework Directive and the Basel Convention. It makes more to just keep the regulation as it is.

This is an important point because if the UK leadership manages to convince the brexit supporters that in fact the UK participated in the making of the EU law and the British Parliament has transposed them into British law, it will be easier to convince them to keep the laws as they are, thereby saving time and efforts to everybody. Definitely, it would be a measure that should be supported by the local authorities, the industry and the NGOs for it provides legal certainty about what is going to happen in the coming years.

Besides the democratic legitimacy perspective, keeping the acquis communautaire can be observed from the position of the advantages of staying in the single market, which would involve accepting free movement of people. This is where we find at least three possible scenarios for the UK.

Firstly, there is the “out is out” option, with the UK not having access to the EU internal market. This would mean increase in tariffs and controls, less access to European and foreign markets which according to calculations from UK treasury would total a 7,5% loss of GDP over 15 years. The catastrophic consequences for Britain speak in favour of ruling out this option.

The second option is to try to emulate the Swiss option. Switzerland is not a member of the EU nor the EEA. Instead, it has negotiated a series of bilateral treaties governing its relations with the EU. Usually, each treaty provides for Switzerland to participate in a particular EU policy or programme. Adopting the Swiss model following Brexit could be appealing if the UK is looking for an ‘à la carte’ approach to European integration. But this depends also on the EU approach, indeed Commission and key Member States will be concerned about creating precedents for similarly complex and à la carte arrangements in the event of other Member States choosing to leave the EU in future. This option is therefore to be ruled out because of the bad predisposition of the EU to concede such an agreement.

Finally, there is the option of following the “Norwegian model”; that is implementing the EU acquis and being able to participate in the single market whilst allowing the UK to strike its own trade deals outside the EU. This is likely to be a more acceptable option despite implying new bureaucratic burdens for British exporters who will have to comply with complex “rules of origin” and which includes some contributions to the European budget too.

Obviously, if/when Brexit happens, the UK will end up developing a model of its own but it wouldn’t make legal, economic or environmental sense to scrap current Environmental legislation in order to create a completely new set of disparate laws which are not compatible with the definitions, procedures or targets set by its immediate trade partners.

It is indeed a paradox that the result of Brexit would mean that the UK will end up having to implement laws that they didn’t make, hence being in a “worst situation” than before the Brexit. This is not necessarily bad news for the EU environmental policies for it has been because of the UK filibustering that most environmental policies have been delayed or lacked ambition over the last years. As a result of UK’s departure from the negotiating table one could expect faster moves towards a circular economy.

In either case one should not forget that what the EU legislation does is provide the baseline for member states but those are always free to be more ambitious than what the directives say I.e. member states are obliged to achieve 50% recycling by 2020 but they can aim for more –not less – if they want. Examples from the network of zero waste municipalities show very well how in those municipalities where there is political will moving towards zero waste is possible. The UK history, England in particular, is not one of success or vision when it comes to resource and waste management. Countries that joined the EU 30 years later than the UK are performing substantially better; Slovenia and Ljubljana in particular have implemented ambitious and efficient waste collection systems and Estonia and Lithuania already have deposit and refund schemes operating for packaging.

Why can’t we envisage the UK implementing deposit and refund schemes, widespread separate collection at the kerbside and moving away from incinerators, landfills and waste exports? The recent microbeads ban in the UK shows that where there is a will there is a way. If the Brits are so brave to break away from the EU they will surely dare to provide a more resilient future for their new generations, won’t they?

Joan Marc Simon

Director,

Zero Waste Europe

 

Fair Isle gets its Marine Protected Area

Scottish Government approves Fair Isles Demonstration and Research MPA

On 26 October, Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, announced  the designation of the Fair Isle Demonstration & Research Marine Protected Area – Scotland’s first ever designation of this kind.

Great result for 25 years of Community effort 

The news comes on the back of decades of community effort campaigning for improved protection for Fair Isle’s waters. Fair Isle is famed for its migratory bird populations and attracts visitors the world over. A small and remote island, located around 40km from the nearest land, the local economy is reliant upon a healthy marine environment to underpin their wildlife tourism industry. Fair Isle records a greater diversity of bird species per unit area than anywhere else in Britain and Ireland, due to its location as first landfall for migrants moving across both the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, and often records unusual avian visitors not found elsewhere in the UK. In addition, seventeen species of seabirds breed on Fair Isle, however populations of these have declined from c. 250,000 in total in the 1980s and 1990s to just over 100,000 in 2010, with species such as kittiwakes, arctic skuas, puffins, shags and arctic terns showing the most rapid declines. This is not only an issue for the biodiversity of Fair Isle, but also represents a threat to the island’s main industry – wildlife-based tourism.

FIMETI ‘s role crucial for campaign success

The Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative (FIMETI) was established in 1995 as a partnership between the Fair Isle community, the National Trust for Scotland and the Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust to work toward the long-term protection and sustainable management of the seas around the island. The proposal for the Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Area (MPA) was developed in 2011 by FIMETI on behalf of all residents of Fair Isle, and had full support of other stakeholders using these waters.

Fair Isles MPA’s 2 objectives

The Fair Isle MPA is ultimately designed to protect the island’s sea bird populations (and associated bird tourism industry) and has two objectives:

  • to conduct robust research on population decline of seabirds,
  • to demonstrate the social and economic value of a healthy marine environment to the Fair Isle community and others.

It differs from Scotland’s nature conservation MPAs in that rather than specifically protecting species of European importance it is specifically targeted toward carrying out research to demonstrate sustainable marine management approaches.

Piloting a partnership approach

Speaking about the news, former FIMETI representative Nick Riddiford said, “I am delighted that 25 years of community effort to safeguard our seas has reached this milestone. Its goal as the first Demonstration and Research MPA in Scotland is to pilot a partnership approach towards sustainable marine management of benefit to all.”

“The sea plays a huge role in the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of the isle. The designation will make a big difference for Fair Isle.”

 

Post Brexit Island access to single market?

“Single Market must work for the islands “said Conservative  MEP Ian Duncan last August.

Last year (30.09.15), Dr Ian Duncan, Conservative MEP for Scotland, and chair of the ECR, welcomed small businessmen from across Europe to the European Parliament to discuss the challenges facing Islands and peripheral communities.

Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, Dr Duncan said

‘When I campaigned to be elected to the European Parliament I was struck by the challenges facing Island communities right across Scotland. The small businesses based on these Islands produce goods and services of incredibly high quality, but encounter barriers such as distance from market, transport challenges, intermittent Internet, and attracting and retaining staff. We heard today from speakers from Scotland, Denmark, Croatia and Finland, all of whom face common challenges.

‘The key message is that the Single Market must work for you regardless of where you live and work. If you are in Stornoway, or Stirling, Arran or Aberdeen you should be able to do business. The islands don’t need special treatment, they need equal treatment. So when we talk about a Digital Single Market it should be a market for every islander as well as every mainlander. The same when we talk about an Energy Union; it should connect every household, not just those in the middle. And of course, you should be able to access the single market without let or hindrance, regardless of whether you are selling whisky on Islay or gin in Edinburgh.

‘I am delighted to have been able to bring together experts from across Europe and look forward to publishing a report of our findings in due course.’

The group heard from speakers including Gerald Michaluk, the owner of the Arran Brewery, and Donald MacInnes, crofter and former Chief Executive of Scotland Europa.

Gerald Michaluk commented,

‘As one of our potentially biggest trading partners Europe is essential, and if Scotland wants to maintain jobs and vitality on its Islands it needs to support Dr Ian Duncan’s initiative.

‘Islands need to have full access to Europe and be able to operate on a level playing field with mainland locations. Only in this way can we sustain the beauty and natural environment of Island communities across the EU.’

Donald MacInnes commented:

‘Islanders don’t feel remote. For the single market to work for everyone, disparities between peripheral regions/islands must be minimised. Equally important is to focus on eliminating differences within these regions and islands. An understanding of this fine grain is crucial in seeking strategies and solutions.’

Jamie McGrigor, Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands added:

‘As someone who lives in and has represented remote and island communities in the Scottish Parliament for many years, I know the unique challenges they face. Geography, transportation and logistical challenges often mean it is particularly difficult to do business in remote communities such as those up and down the west coast of Scotland.

“However, their produce, skills and expertise are often second to none, and I am delighted that my colleague Ian Duncan MEP is raising this issue in the European Parliament.”

What is Dr Ian Duncan’s position now?

Currently there are no new post from Dr Duncan’s blog on the need for the islands to engage with the single market.

Is he towing the party line on a hard Brexit, or he is standing by his word on the Single Market s advantage for the island?

If you are concerned about this issue,  contact Andrew Johnston, Head of Office for Ian Duncan, Ian Duncan MEP as he stated his position as always putting Scotland’s interests’ first and the current discussion does not look as if Scotland’s interests – and never mind the islands – are being fully considered in the discussion.  

 

 

Islands in Scotland’s Rural Parliament manifesto

Putting islands in Scotland’s Rural Parliament manifesto

The Scottish Rural Parliament in 2016 brought together 350 people from across rural Scotland to discuss the issues of greatest importance to rural communities.

This year’s rural Parliament in Brechin saw an increase in island representation. Not only the Scottish Islands Federation held its own workshop as part of the Fringe, but a sizeable proportion of the prizes for social innovation also went to islanders. Yet again another example of  of islanders showing that they are smart.

Islanders from Barra, Mull , Skye and Shetland among the winners.
Islanders from Barra, Mull , Skye and Shetland among the winners.

A Manifesto for Rural Scotland was agreed with participants deciding what actions need to be taken and by who, to ensure our rural communities are empowered, connected and sustainable.

The final Manifesto and Action Plan will be published shortly on the Rural Parliament website.

The four subjects prioritised by participants were: Land, Local democracy & governance, Business and Broadband and mobile phone signal.

The Scottish Islands Federation asked for the situation of islands to be considered in a number of the manifesto’s paragraphs. Much like legislation after the island Bill is passed, the manisfesto needs to be island proofed.

The site visits were all inspiring and and there a was visible buzz about the place. People genuinely felt they could express themselves and be heard. A lot of connections were made.

The Scottish Rural Parliament did feel like it presented a genuine opportunity for communities to make real and positive changes where they live. There was a real buzz about the event.

The main  concept of the Rural Parliament is that it is a participative event., where rural people can talk face to face to politicians and policy makers. It is a welcome sign of democracy in action.

 

Overcoming Barriers to Economic Development – A Remote Island Perspective

Overcoming Barriers to Economic Development –            A Remote Island Perspective

A seminar organised by the Committee of Regions  and Shetland Island Council

9 September 2016, Lerwick, Shetland

Seminar objectives met

The objective of the seminar was  to create a greater un- derstanding of peripheral issues faced by islands and other remote communities and thus to draw evidence of the state of play of Cohesion in the EU.

Remote islands and communities have a range of structural circumstances that are difficult for policymakers to grasp unless they are experienced directly.

Presentations by Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles Councils  included an examination of the barriers and opportunities to pursue economic development strategies in their remote communities.

By meeting local experts and local community groups dealing with matters such as sustainable economic development, social inclusion, environmental protection, the seminar provided first-hand information on the enablers and barriers that such communities face in achieving sustainable economic development and Territorial Cohesion.

Islands have their own geographical specificities

In her presentation, Ilona Raugze from the ESPON EGTC explained how ESPON’s work on areas such as islands with geographical specificities brought a new understanding of their challenges.

The 2011 Euroisland study showed that

  • Islands have a below average connectivity
  • islands are below the European GDP average
  • economic convergence is slower
  • job and career opportunity are low
  • Low quality and high cost of services

Insularity has to be considered as a permanent, natural feature that affects negatively, directly and indirectly, islands’ attractiveness and subsequently places obstacles to their performance in terms of sustainable development. 

Insularity creates unequal opportunities between these territories and the rest of the European Union.

EU should stress on attractiveness parameters in order to address the different characteristics and costs of insularity by a differentiated policy.

The 2012 Geospec showed that  general characteristics for island territories were

  • Social capital – “closely-knit communities”
  • High value of natural capital
  • Preserved history and culture and biodiversity
  • Goods and services that do not receive market pricing (air purification, hazard prevention, groundwater recharge, bioremediation of waste and pollutants, recreation)
  • Renewable energies (hydropower, offshore wind, wave, tidal energies, biomass, solar energy)
  • Higher vulnerability to climate change (islands – sea level rise, storms, extreme temperatures, flooding)

The Geospec study concluded that recognising diversity was very important in policy making: an integrated place-based approach is needed since geographic specificity is only one of many factors influencing the performance of any given territory. Understanding specific processes to inform policy-making is more important than benchmarking. And the focus should be on potentials rather than on relative performance.

New policy recommendations emerged

1/ Recognising diversity in policy-making

  • 
European debates on cohesion and competitiveness need to focus on different models of growth and development rather than convergence or divergence of regional performance
  • Supporting development strategies that respect territorial potential is more valid than attaching particular funding to lines of geographic conditions

  2/ Recognising diversity in policy-making

  • 
European debates on cohesion and competitiveness need to focus on different models of growth and development rather than convergence or divergence of regional performance
  • Supporting development strategies that respect territorial potential is more valid than attaching particular funding lines to geographic conditions

3/ Fields of action

  • 
Policy measures should be tailored to local potentials and challenges. 
There should be a balance of measures to compensate for permanent handicaps and measures to promote the assets (“territorial capital”)

For example:

  • Seasonality in employment (tourism) to be integrated with other employment opportunities (multi-activity)
  • Overcoming physical remoteness by developing new ICT solutions to ensure accessibility of services, learning opportunities, e- democracy etc.
  • Investment in alternative energy sources
  • Encouraging young people to return after university studies
  • Branding, self-perception
  • Niche products (aquaculture specialised in seed mussels)

4/ Territorial cooperation practices need to show that territory matters

  • Dealing with geographic specificities is often about creating new types of connections between areas 
- Within regions
- Across regional and national boundaries
  • Compensating for imbalances in flows
  • Creating alliances through which actors can strengthen the 
robustness and resilience of their local communities
  • Gaining greater weight (critical mass) in economic and political systems dominated by main urban areas
  • Building of mutual trust and social capital

5/ Vision for the European Territory 2050

  • European visions for the future should not be territorially blind
  • Unleash regional diversity and endogenous development: 
- Targeted policy steps have to be successful to tackle issues faced by areas characterised by a specific permanent geographic or demographic handicap
  • A New Governance Approach:
- New planning and territorial cooperation initiatives are needed
  • Accessibility is regarded as a necessary condition for economic growth, having a direct impact on the attractiveness of regions for businesses and people

Need for new sustainability indicators 

ESIN has long argued that to overcome these barriers, the EU does need to understand the smaller island situation in greater details.

Both the chair of ESIN, Bengt Almkvist and the chair of S.I.F., Camille Dressler who attended the seminar stressed the need to use a more refined set of indicators that are used at present.

The ESPON Territorial Impact Assessment (TIA)  tool presented by Mrs Raugze was suggested as a simplified, evidence-based procedure and a user-friendly methodology combining expert knowledge gathered in a workshop with an Excel tool and standardised indicators that could show possible impacts in maps at NUTS 2 level.

Participants all agreed on the need for an improved framework for dialogue between the European, national, regional and local levels, making it possible to reflect unique patterns of opportunity and challenges in each territory. This was felt to be particularly relevant to the island situation.

This framework required

  • A general method for the assessment of local situations
  • Support to the formulation of development models adapted to 
local conditions
  • Better access to data of local development conditions
  • Improved quantitative and qualitative analyses of local situations
  • Alternative methods for analyses at the NUTS 2 and 3 levels
  • “Smarter” indicators going beyond the current focus on GDP

Through presentations and discussions with local actors, the seminar reached its goal of informing the ongoing assessment of the application of the EU objective of Territorial Cohesion as well as the thinking on the future shape of EU programmes and the future of EU Cohesion policy.

ESIN 2016 conference will focus on the need for island sustainability indicators

Small Islands Atlas and Sustainability indicators

There has been a long discussion within ESIN about the need for a better understanding of the Smaller islands position at the level of the EU commission.

For this reason, ESIN vice-president Christian Pleijel and University of South Wales PhD student and self-confessed nissologist Neil Lodwick have teemed up for the first presentation of the conference which will also look at island labelling and the possibility of starting a ZeroWaste Island EU programme ( see full programme below)

They have worked on  the concept of an Atlas of the Small Islands of Europe which will look at the islands from the point of view of a set of sustainability indicators dealing with social, economic, governance and environmental aspects of island life.

Read more about it on the ESIN website.

This is largely in response to the European Parliament resolution of February 4th 2016 on the special situation of islands, as ESIN is concerned that the smaller islands are not included in the NUTS 2 and NUTS 3 description.

The present statistical indicators are also  the subject of detailed criticism by the Committee of Region, who has identified the need for more adapted and subtle statistical instruments.

What is the S.I.F. and ESIN position on the need for better indicators?

S.I.F chair Camille Dressler who has largely coordinated the programme for this year’s ESIN AGM conference in Brussels on 27 September 2016, has secured the attendance of Olivier Heiden, a European statistics specialist from the Committee of Regions to lead the panel discussion about sustainability indicators.

This is what she wrote to Mr Heiden in response to his interest in leading the discussion:

“In the document COTER – VI/009, (indicators for territorial development, GDP and beyond- 10-11 February 2016), the  following comments echo very well the opinion we have in ESIN that the present statistical indicators do not address the situation of territories such as the islands archipelagoes members of the European Small Islands Federation.

We agree in the first instance that a number of EU instruments are still based on an excessively narrow economic measure, and that eligibility decisions are basically blind to social and environmental and territorial aspects across European regions.

As many of our islands are not included in the NUTS2 or NUTS 3 areas, we too question what is the ability of NUTS level 2 to reflect real communities and real geographies when the NUTS areas are purely statistical geographies based on population rather than reflecting real boundaries or functional geographical areas such as islands.

And since NUTS are also used to date to allocate EU Structural Funds, we also agree that “their use to formulate and evaluate the territorial impact of EU cohesion, transport, environment and other policies has a pervasive effect which results in EU policies being out of step with the situation on the ground” and failing to reflect in particular the situation of islands that are members of ESIN.

For this reason, we agree that “currently the regionalisation of Europe 2020 indicators is not satisfactory, because only some of the indicators needed to track the Europe 2020 headline targets at regional level (NUTS level 2 and 3) are available.”

We would certainly support the Committee of the Regions proposal to “update regional statistics that would make it possible to build a synthetic Regional Progress Indicator.”

Our research shows it is indeed necessary to add specific data pertinent to islands that are not in the NUTS 2 or NUTS 3 classification in order to add to the weight carried by cohesion objectives.

We therefore support the Committee of Regions statement urging “the European Commission to include in the European statistical programme the measures needed for dealing with shortcomings in statistical information on territorial diversity and specific features in the EU, namely measures for compiling data and building up indicators on regions’ remoteness and isolation, so as to improve the process of devising and implementing European policies better adapted to regions affected by these phenomena” such as islands,” in keeping with the principle of territorial cohesion.””

ESIN AGM 2016 Conference programme

Date: Tuesday 27th September 2016     09.30 – 17.30

Venue: European Economic and Social Committee, Rue Belliard, 99, BRUSSELS, room JDE 63

Time Programme
9.00 Registration of participants
1 9.30 Introduction by ESIN president Bengt Almkvist

ESIN vice president Eleftherios Kechagioglou introduces conference sponsor president Georges Dassis (EESC).

ESIN President introduces Pierre Jean Coulon (EESC TEN president), Ioannis Latoudis (DG REGIO), Toni Piccula (SEARICA).

2 10.00 Description of the Small Islands situation: The ESIN Atlas and islands sustainability indicators, ppt by Christian Plejiel and Neil Lodwick
3 10.30 Panel Discussion led by Oliver Heiden ( European Committee of the Regions (CoR)

“ There is a need for the EU to improve the description of the small islands situation as they are not included in the NUTS 3 and 4 classification”

Panel participants: Oliver Heiden Ioannis Latoudis (DG Regio), Yannis Vardakastanis (2017 Year of Disability), Bengt Almkvist (ESIN)

10.50 Coffee/tea break
4 11.00 Thematic Islands presentations: the top three issues (OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES) on each national islands federation’s agenda, led by Camille Dressler
5 11.55 Summing up on thematic issues: common strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities in reference to the Atlas by Christian Pleijel.
6 12.00 EESC’s perspective on islands by Pierre Jean Coulon (EESC TEN president)
7 12.15 Island Issues post 2020

Panel discussion led by Toni Piccula We are moving towards post 2020 and the European Commission is discussing how to act in the islands issue in the next program period 2021-2027.

– How will islands be earmarked for financing?

– Creation of an island desk to coordinate all island programs?

– How can the contract between the commission and island nations be strengthened, making it possible to reject programs that do not include islands?

Panel participants: Toni Piccula, Pierre Jean Coulon, Ioannis Latoudis, Bengt Almkvist

8 12.55 Summing up and conclusions by Bengt Almkvist
13.00 Buffet lunch in venue foyer
9 14.00 Towards a Zero Waste Islands Programme? by Ferran Rosa, Policy Officer, Zero Waste Europe .
10 14.30 Islands Product Labelling, presentation by Laurids Siig Christensen (The Small Island Food Network of Denmark) followed by debate.

Island Specialties, a registered trademark owned by the Small Island Food Network in Denmark, is a terroir-based brand, and permission to use the brand implies a positive impact of production on the island community.

Could this brand be used by island communities in other European countries? Discussion of the potential of this idea with the ESIN delegates.

15.30 Coffee/tea break
11 15.45 Island indicators: from general to local. Discussion led by Christian Pleijel and Neil Lodwick on two sets of indicators:

We have devised 10 common indicators for the islands, but we feel these need refining to take into account the individual island situation. How is this to be achieved?

12 16.45 Conclusions of the day by Bengt Almkvist
17.00 End of conference

Relevant links:

ESIN:    https://europeansmallislands.com/

EESC:                                       http://www.eesc.europa.eu/i=portal.en.home

European Network For Rural development http://enrd.ec.europa.eu/networks-and-networking/research-initiatives/research-institutions-dg-regio_en

DG REGIO                         http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.cfm

SEARICA:                                  http://searica.eu/en/

2017, Year of disability:

http://www.edf-feph.org/Page_Generale.asp?DocID=13854&thebloc=34304

Eurostat:  http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat

The Small Island Food Network of Denmark: http://www.oe-specialiteter.dk/en/

Zero Waste Europe:        https://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/

European Parliament resolution of February 4th 2016 on the special situation of islands: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2016-0049+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=GA

ESIN ATLAS can be found at the ESIN website: https://europeansmallislands.com/esif-structured-dialogue/

The Community Empowerment Act and coastal communities

The Community Empowerment Act and Coastal communities

At the Marine Communities Workshop  organised by Flora and Fauna International in  May 2016,  we heard the Scottish Community Alliance on the community empowerment agenda.

On the back of that presentation,  Fauna and Flora international thought it would be useful to review the Community Empowerment Act (Scotland) 2015 to see how it might apply to coastal communities and inshore waters.

The key points which the document attached explores include:

  • The CEA is all about local communities having a stronger role in local decision making;
  • This will be done through improving public services for communities through better community planning and other direct mechanisms for getting involved in local decision-making;
  • The CEA also directly empowers communities through the acquisition of land and buildings;
  • There are positive principles built into community planning and Community Planning Partnerships such as prioritising local needs and embedding communities in processes from the beginning to the end;
  • Participation Requests can be made to SNH and SEPA for environmental protection purposes;
  • Aligning with the Community Right to Buy Land, the use of the Crown Estate’s Local Management Agreements could be investigated for the purpose of leasing the seabed for nature conservation;
  • Coastal community groups seeking land or property as a base can explore Asset Transfer opportunities within council or publicly owned land;
  • Guidance and regulations are being prepared for each section of the Act. It is anticipated that the guidance for asset transfer and participation requests will be operational towards the end of 2016.
  • Participatory Budgeting isn’t included in the Act. Scottish Government is however investing heavily in its promotion.

These are useful starting points to interpreting the Act.

Let us know what you think!