Alícia Homs, PSIB-PSOE MEP, has participated this Tuesday in a meeting with Margrethe Vestager, vice-president of the European Commission and head of the EU Competition and State aid policy. The virtual meeting, organized by the Intergroup of Seas, Rivers, Islands, and Coastal Areas of the European Parliament (SEARICA), had the objective of analyzing the impact of the Covid-19 crisis in the European islands and has had the presence of a group of MEPs from island regions.
At the meeting, Homs highlighted the "disadvantageous situation" faced by companies from the EU islands compared to their competitors within the Common Market. "Island industrial companies are in a position of disadvantage in the Common Market. The transport of raw materials and final products from and to the continent are an extraordinary cost that companies based on the continent do not have”, explained the MEP.
"This competitive disadvantage has provoked a process of abandonment of our industrial sector." According to Homs, the Covid-19 crisis has evidenced this fact, since the islands are the territories most economically affected by the pandemic due to their dependence on the tourism sector. In this sense, Homs has transferred to the vice president the forecast of reduction of the GDP of the Balearic Islands due to the crisis, being the most impacted region in Spain and with much difference compared to other regions, which do not depend so much on tourism.
"If Europe wants the economies of the island regions to be sustainable and resilient," Homs told the vice president, "the only solution, as both the industrial sector and the political authorities of the Balearic Islands say, is to allow more flexible rules on state aid, so that the State helps companies to overcome this competitive disadvantage that insularity implies and to be able to enjoy the opportunities of the Single Market under equal conditions”.
As Homs argues and other island MEPs support, if the European islands had a State aid regime with more flexible limits, the activity of small, medium, and large companies would be much more profitable. With the current limits dictated by the EU's competition policy, island companies cannot cope with the extraordinary costs that insularity entails - “not even,” Homs says, “under the current Temporary Framework, which has made it more flexible to deal with the crisis relatively limits ”.
In the words of Homs, "the only solution is to treat islands as they are: an isolated territory without the same access conditions to the Single Market as other territories." Thus, this request does not imply “treating islands with privileges”, rather the opposite, “leveling them with the rest of territories in the Common Market”.
Since January 2020, Homs is Vice President for Biodiversity and Ocean Knowledge of “Searica”, the Intergroup of the European Parliament that addresses the Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas of the European Union.