By Humphrey Carter
T HE Balearic government wants the new European Constitution to give greater recognition to Europe's “insular” regions, such as the Balearics.
The Balearics have been pushing for greater recognition by the European Union for years. The director general of European Relations, Joan Massot, who is attending the European Association of Islands' general assembly in Finland, believes that now is the time to strike with the community drawing up a new constitution.

Extra transport costs and greater distances from commercial markets are the two main problems suffered by Europe's insular regions and the two principal restrictions of further growth and development.

Last month, Balearic president Jaume Matas, was named as the new chairman of the European Association of Islands, an association which represents a total of 150 European coastal and insular regions. During its opening meeting, the committee agreed to push ahead for greater recognition in the new constitution.

One of the main concerns of the previous left-wing Balearic government was that a larger European Union will lead to less EU funding for the Balearics.
Before, all EU funding went through Madrid, and the Balearics feared that the region was not the primary concern of central government when pushing for funding.

Palma wants a direct route to Brussels and its cash before it is funnelled into the new member states which joined last Saturday.
In principle, the Balearics want equal treatment from Brussels, especially now that the new socialist Spanish government favours greater powers of self-rule in the autonomous regions of Spain.

Newly elected Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero believes in a “federal” Spain and the Balearics believe the stage is set for a much closer and direct relationship with the European Union.

The Balearic government wants Brussels to officially recognise the economic and social problems insular regions have to overcome. And in turn, allow regions such as the Balearics to be able to fight their corner in Brussels on an equal platform as the rest of the European Union member states and enjoy all the benefits of participating in a single market.

Jaume Matas yesterday wrote to the current president of the European Union, Irish premier Bertie Ahern, stressing the need for better recognition of Europe's insular regions in the new European Union constitution.

Matas has also asked Ahern to table the issue for debate at the next inter-governmental summit.


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