SPANISH Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Territory Policy, Manuel Chaves, said in Palma yesterday that Central Government wants the European Union to make allowances in its 2013-2020 budget for the special needs of island communities belonging to the member states. “Some type of compensation should be made to these insular regions where the basic costs of living are higher. Residents are cut off from the economic advantages of living on the mainland,” said Chaves at an EU summit meeting on “regional island community policy in Europe” being held in Majorca.

The Minister, speaking at a time when Spain holds the 6-month presidency of the European Union, said that Central Government was “aware” of the “difficulties” that regions such as the Balearics encountered in terms of transport and communications and as a result, in its economic and social development.

He explained that although the recently ratified “Lisbon Treaty” had gone some way to have the special needs of island communities recognised, “it was still not enough.” Chaves said that when it considers its future funding criteria, the European Union should take into account that if all regions are to be treated equally, then special consideration needs to be given to the status of island communities.

Questioned on how he viewed the drafting of the “Special Balearic Regime” which is attempting to address the economic disadvantages suffered by the Islands through the Balearic regional statutes, Chaves said that the extra funding is a constitutional matter but that Central Government will do “everything within its power” to eradicate regional inequalities.

President of the Balearics, Francesc Antich, confirmed yesterday that this year, regional Parliament will be debating a modification to the “Special Balearic Regime.” If consensus is reached, Antich said, the motion will be put before Central Government for its approval for the Balearics' right to a funding adjustment to be included in the regional statutes.

Until the new law is passed, said Antich, the islands are meanwhile receiving extra financial help from Central Government in the form of funding for environmental projects, tourism and road development.