The Balearics has found some unusual bedmates in their drive to secure better funding from the European Union to cover additional transport costs caused by its geographic position. The islands in the European Union from the Orkneys to Sicily are joining forces and appealing to the European Union to recognise the fact that as islands they have greater costs to cover. The Balearics is one of the lead areas in this campaign and a report has been compiled which the local government intends to present at the European parliament later this year. “Through this report we want to show Brussels of the problems we have to overcome regularly, such as getting power and water to additional transport costs,” said a Balearic government spokesperson. Joan Mesquida, the Balearic Minister for the Economy, said that their grouping of 20 island areas would act as a lobby group in Brussels. Mesquida criticised the central administration in Madrid for not doing enough to help the island provinces in Spain. He went on to say that presently island provinces were having to find alternative sources of revenue because funding was not forthcoming from other sources. He said that the tourist and business taxes, introduced by the Balearic government, were prime examples. The Balearic government says that additional transport costs which islanders have to face are a major financial burden. This was one of the reasons why the local authorities increased the resident discount system for inter-island air travel and also on flights and maritime routes to the mainland. Presently, residents can enjoy a discount of up to 25 percent on flights around the islands or to the mainland. Also, of concern is the island's pressing power problems. The Balearic government says that the best way to fuel the island's electricity plants is through natural gas. However, it will have to be piped to the islands from the mainland. This will naturally prove a most costly operation. At one stage the islands were even forced to import water. These are just some of the problems which the Balearic government hopes Brussels will recognise and provide some funding. Consumer groups also say that prices here are higher than on the mainland simply because of high transport costs. A recent survey indicated that the Balearics had one of the highest costs of living of anywhere in the country. The Balearics is also hoping that the states hoping to join the European Union, such as Malta, will also support their drive for more funding. However, so far Brussels has appeared to ignore the islands states. The European Union says that this is more of an issue for each individual country rather than the European Union. Presently, Spain is one of the nations which enjoys the highest level of investment from the European Union. The new terminal building at Palma airport was heavily subsidised by Brussels along with other road projects. The Inca area also benefited heavily from a major European Union grant. There is some concern within the southern European Union states that there will be less funding for them once countries in Eastern Europe join the European Union.


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