The European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development unanimously adopted on 22 March 2023 its Report on the Evaluation of the European Commission’s new Communication on the Outermost Regions (2022/2147(INI)).
The report, drafted by Alvaro AMARO MEP (EPP, Portugal), supports the European Commission’s strategy for the EU’s outermost regions (ORs), but at the same time calls for more systematic attention to the needs of these regions in EU legislation and programmes and a stronger commitment by the Commission to boost their competitiveness.
Among other issues, it addresses the problems of young people in the ORs, whose social situation and future prospects are a major concern. Thus, it calls on the European Commission to propose training, apprenticeship and skills development activities to boost employment opportunities and stem the brain drain, as well as an action plan to tackle early school leaving.
It also stresses the importance of tourism for the development of these regions and underlines the need to strike the right balance between tourism development and specific local biodiversity, urging the Commission to draw up a sustainable tourism policy for the ORs.
The President of the Canary Islands Government and current President of the Conference of Presidents of the ORs, Ángel Víctor TORRES, intervened remotely in the session on the occasion of the adoption of the report, taking the opportunity to once again call for the ultraperiphery to be a permanent commitment within the EU’s cohesion policy with the aim of achieving the best possible fit for the territorial diversity represented by the ORs within the EU.
He placed special emphasis on migration policy, on the development of the Fit for 55 legislative package and on promoting cooperation with neighbouring third countries and partners of the ORs, and therefore of the EU, along the same lines as those being deployed in the Mediterranean.
He also stressed the importance of the text incorporating the conclusions reached by the Conference of Presidents of the ORs in its Final Declaration of November 2022, held in the European Parliament, including many of its demands. He also called for “full participation of the ORs’ authorities in European policies”, given that this “strengthens the legitimacy of EU decision-making”.
Finally, he recalled that the European Commission, in its 8th Cohesion Report, concludes that the development of the EU must be adapted to the competitive advantages of each territory and that the characteristics of the ORs are unique in the EU, which makes convergence difficult and requires a “horizontal and structuring strategy”.
In this context, the ORs need these specific EU policies to compensate for the differences linked to their remoteness, isolation and insularity, but above all to bring them closer to the EU’s average per capita income level.