President Armengol and minister Rosario Sánchez at the assembly on Wednesday. | Govern de les Illes Balears


The Islands Commission General Assembly is currently gathered in Palma. A commission within the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, its president is Francina Armengol. On Wednesday, the assembly resolved to request an "insularity filter" to all EU policies and to housing in particular. This filter would include regulations specifically designed for people born on the various islands.

President Armengol said: "We are limited areas and we cannot grow infinitely, as that creates pressure on the territory and forces us to seek strategies that enable us to be different from other parts of the European Union."

Among those in attendance is Greece's secretary general for maritime affairs and insular policy, Manolis Koutoulakis. He observed that the assembly represents a great opportunity for Europe to listen closely to the voice of the islands. There are "critical issues" for the islands, such as housing, infrastructure and the environment. "We need better regulations, better financing and better knowledge about the islands."

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Koutoulakis added that housing should be one of the EU's "priorities" and stressed that the proposal for regulations has the support of the Greek government. Islands such as Corfu, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini have experienced high increases in prices due to real estate activity linked to tourism. "Regulations must come from the EU, which is why we need a strong and united voice from the islands, although proposals must also be made at the national level."

Rosario Sánchez, the Balearic minister for foreign relations, emphasised the importance of an island filter in all European regulations. The objective of the assembly, she said, is to promote a pact for the islands in the EU. "We want it to be a priority on the agenda during the Spanish presidency (of the EU)."

* Somewhat lost in all the argument about proposed restrictions on non-resident home buying in the Balearics is the fact that when Josep Melià of El Pi first brought this proposal before the Balearic parliament in October last year, he did so within the framework of amended EU legislation that could apply to all island territories and not just the Balearics.