|Vol 7, No.19, 10.5.01, p9
MEPS have accused the European Commission and national leaders of betrayal over pledges of support for the EU's remote islands.
They say that promises made by heads of state at the Nice and Feira summits to provide more aid to regions such as Spain's Canary Islands, France's Réunion and Portugal's Azores, have come to nothing.
They are angry that the Commission has failed to increase funding for the islands and French Guiana in its latest aid proposals. In fact, the amount has decreased since 1993, the first year that the EU gave special support.
"The current proposals do not comply with the EU's political declarations," said Portuguese centre-right MEP Carlos Costa Neves, who drafted the budget committee's report on the subject. "It is time for Europe to meet its pledges."
EU leaders inserted rules into the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty to allow the bloc's outermost regions, which also include Madeira, Guadeloupe and Martinique, to get special treatment because of their isolation.
However, the budget committee says it has seen little sign of action since then. "The strategy proposed by the Commission does not seem to change the nature and scale of existing measures, despite the introduction of Article 299 in the Amsterdam Treaty and the political declarations made at the European Council summits in Nice and Feira," said Costa Neves.
The EU executive has run three programmes to help the regions - Poseidom, Poseima and Poseican. It is now proposing to revive them until 2006, but MEPs say the extra expenditure will be matched by cuts in subsidies to cereal, beef and veal farmers.
The three programmes together will be worth €173.5 million in 2001. In 1993 the schemes were allocated €184 million. Costa Neves' report was approved by the budget committee last Thursday.
MEPs have accused the European Commission and national leaders of betrayal over pledges of support for the EU's remote islands.
|Politics and International Relations