Europe's islands could face economic collapse as a result of the necessary measures put in place to combat the spread of Coronavirus, and targetted intervention at EU level is needed to prevent this.
That is the message that a cross party group of MEPs representing many of Europe's island communities have sent this week in a letter to the President of the European Commission, European Council and Council of the EU.
Later this week, Europe's Heads of State and Government will meet by video conference to discuss the Coronavirus response.
MEPs from the SEARICA group (Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas) highlight the vital importance of tourism for island economies - an activity which has effectively been suspended due to the health emergency.
Greens/EFA MEP François Alfonsi from Corsica is Vice Chair of the SEARICA Group and a signatory to the letter.
In their letter the MEPs say: "our island economies are proportionally much more dependent on tourism than all other regional economies. This “endemic” fragility must be taken into account in the solidarity mechanisms that the Member States, with the support of European funds, will implement. However, during this global emergency we ask to preserve and maintain unused funds already earmarked for the islands from the 2014/2020 budget."
MEP François Alfonsi added :
"We welcome the initial measures already announced at EU level to support Europe's regions. Now we need to go further and we call upon the EU to implement specific emergency measures targetting financial support for Europe's islands, including a reinforced and adapted solidarity mechanism.
"We also need to extend the flexibility in providing state aid to Europe's islands for long after the initial phase of the crisis will have passed.
"Now more than ever we need Europe's solidarity - and financial aid - in order to prevent the economic collapse of Europe's island economies."
The letter is signed by:
Alex AGIUS SALIBA MEP, Malta (S&D)
François ALFONSI MEP, France (Greens/EFA)
Ignazio CORRAO MEP, Italy (NI)
Josianne CUTAJAR MEP, Malta (S&D)
Alicia HOMS GINEL MEP, Spain (S&D)
Costas MAVRIDES MEP, Cyprus (S&D)
Younous OMARJEE MEP, France (GUE/NGL)
Demetris PAPADAKIS MEP, Cyprus (S&D)
Tonino PICULA MEP, Croatia (S&D)
Alfred SANT MEP, Malta (S&D)
Nils TORVALDS MEP, Finland (Renew Europe)