Support has been given to an Islands Champion Pledge which supports the campaign for better conditions for those that live and work on Scottish islands. Scottish MEP Alyn Smith signed the pledge which was presented to him by Sandy Brunton, spokesperson for the Scottish Islands Federation and a Mull Resident. Sandy Brunton is also a director of the Mull and Iona Community Trust.
The Scottish Islands Federation which put the pledge forward is part of ESIN, a network of small islands federations throughout Europe which has been campaigning on island issues since 2000. It has successfully lobbied the EU to change its definition of the small island.
Sandy Brunton said: “We have worked on this pledge with our colleagues from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Aaland and France. If MEPs in all the ESIN countries sign this pledge, this will go a long way towards ensuring the formation of a strong island lobbying group in the EU parliament and a better understanding of how legislation must take the islands situation into consideration. We are delighted that Alyn Smith is the first MEP to sign this pledge, as he has been behind this initiative from the very beginning.”
Alyn Smith said: “Scottish Islands are of great importance to our economy and contribute substantially with agriculture, fishing, tourism and energy resources and expertise. However, islands communities also face challenges and it’s up to us, politicians, to make sure that we focus on the specific needs of our islands.
“The EU already offers support to islands via various projects and exchanges and today I pledge to fight for more! I hope my fellow Euro candidates will follow the suit and recognise diverse needs of communities across Scotland; this way we can ensure fair and adequate representation for the Scottish Islands in Europe.
With the European elections looming near, the Scottish Islands Federation feels it is vital that the needs of our islands, and those of the smaller islands in particular, are championed in the EU parliament. This is essential to ensure that island growth and development is promoted rather than hampered by blanket legislation.
The pledge will now be sent to all European election candidates across the European Union in those member states with islands in advance of the European elections in May.
The Pledge asks for candidates:
1/ to work towards providing policies that encourage people continue to live and work on Islands and ensure that Island residents get equal access to services.
2/ to lobby for positive incentives for companies and individuals creating jobs and sustaining employment in islands.
3/ to support a transport system to the European Islands that supports the needs of resident island population and of businesses, and to lobby for the revision of state aid rules where they hamper transport links.
4/ to support all efforts to increase access to fast and effective broadband and mobile coverage to our islands. 5/ to support the expansion of renewable energy production on islands, particularly the development of micro generation for indigenous use, promotion of investment in electricity interconnections and lobbying against charges that are discriminatory against remote areas, e.g. high transmission charges.
6/ to push the Commission to bring forward legislation, in accordance with Article 32 of EU Regulation 1151/2012, which would create a new optional reserved term “product of island farming” to promote products whose raw material comes from or whose processing takes place on an island.
7/ to lobby for a revision of state aid rules and measures to take into account the specific issues of food production on the smaller islands - especially meat production.
8/ to support the establishment of an Islands Intergroup in the European Parliament.
The pledge was presented to him by Sandy Brunton, spokesperson for the Scottish Islands Federation and a Mull Resident. Sandy Brunton is also a director of the Mull and Iona Community Trust.