The PSIB-PSOE MEP, Alícia Homs, this morning asked the Director for State aid, General Scrutiny and Enforcement at DG Competition at the European Commission, Karl Soukup, that the limits on state aid set by the European Union include a special regime for the Balearic Islands.
European Competition policy, which ensures the functioning and cohesion of the Common Market, establishes strict limits on Member States to prevent countries from unbalancing the European market in their favor with direct aid to national companies.
"State aid limits are essential to preserve the Single Market", Alícia Homs acknowledges, "but the same rule cannot be used for all territories". According to Homs, and as the socialists of the Balearic Islands have been defending, “the insular condition creates a competitive disadvantage in our economic sectors with respect to companies established in the continent. This could be overcome if the EU allowed greater state aid for companies operating from the islands.”
The European islands, including the Balearic Islands, are the regions most affected by the current economic crisis due to their heavy dependence on the tourism and transport sector. “To make our economy more resilient in the face of future crises, we have to reinforce the weight of sectors such as industrial; but to achieve this we need our companies to be able to access the opportunities provided by the Common Market on equal terms.”
The MEP has conveyed to Director-General Soukup the enormous impact of the crisis in the Balearic Islands and the need for the Commission to be sensitive to the islands and adapt its regulations to the island phenomenon. “Today our economy is not resilient because our industrial sector has been stagnant for a few years due to the competitive disadvantage caused by insularity. Our companies bear the costs of air and sea transport and that is why it is very difficult for them to compete in the European market with companies that only use land transport, which is much less expensive,” said Homs.
As Homs says, "if Europe wants the economies of island regions to be sustainable and resilient, the only way to be more flexible is to be able to help companies overcome the barrier of insularity." In this sense, "it is not about treating islands with privileges, but of equating them to the rest of the Common Market territories."
The meeting was organized by the SEArica intergroup, which brings together MEPs from different island and maritime regions, and of which Homs is vice-president.