The CPMR’s Islands Commission took part in a public hearing co-organised by INSULEUR and OTIE in Brussels on 14 December 2018 at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), to discuss EU policies to promote sustainable tourism in islands.

Island regions, especially in the Mediterranean Sea, welcome a large number of tourists in a limited period of time, mostly during summer, and sometimes ten times more than during other periods of the year. These islands therefore face major challenges such as the production and storage of renewable energies sources, water management and preservation of natural resources, sustainable mobility of tourist etc.

The public hearing was aimed at mobilising an important community of island stakeholders and representatives from the European Commission, to reflect on best practices and potential EU financial and technical support to address these challenges.

Several successful EU projects were also presented during the public hearing: SOCLIMPACT (represented by Giacoma Brancato, OTIE) ALTER ECO, BLUEISLANDS or the initiative Greening the Islands.
Nicolas Brookes, CPMR Director for Cohesion Policy, provided an update on the post-2020 Cohesion Policy package and its future opportunities to support sustainable tourism in islands. Cohesion Policy will continue to promote these objectives mostly through European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes but also via the new Policy Objective 5 of the ERDF, which will target specific territories such as islands and will have a thematic focus on tourism. He shared the CPMR’s concerns about the Commission’s proposal to reduce Cohesion Policy budget and European co-financing rates in the post-2020 period, and to renationalise the thematic concentration process of its funds.

Participants were also informed about the European Commission’s current and future initiatives, with presentations from DG ENV, DG MARE, DG MOVE and DG REGIO. They all agreed on the need to scale up existing projects and to strengthen cooperation between island regions.

These messages were conveyed by representatives of insular organisations and from island regions, in a video of interviews of key speakers compiled by the CPMR. In the afternoon session, dedicated to project opportunities for islands development, the Islands Commission was invited to present some of the projects in which the CPMR is a partner, such as CO-EVOLVE, MITOMED+ and CIVITAS DESTINATIONS.
The project presentations were followed by a discussion among participants and island organisations on future opportunities to develop partnerships and cooperation projects targeting islands.