In Canary Islands, State Secretary for European Union claims the islands are a priority of government action with EU
The State Secretary for the European Union, Juan González-Barba, made a working visit to the Canary Islands on 21 and 22 January, to address current affairs at an EU level with an impact on the region with the regional government and other institutions. The State secretary met with the President of the Regional Government, Ángel Víctor Torres, and conveyed to him that “the Canary Islands are a priority for the government’s action with the EU”.

At the meeting, they addressed issues of importance to the Canary Islands related to the European Union, particularly in the context of the pandemic, including the EU Recovery Plan, the EU’s support for the outermost regions (ORs), the EU’s health response to the pandemic and the coordination of aspects related to mobility.

The Autonomous Region of the Canary Islands enjoys a particular status at an EU level as an outermost region of the EU, as a result of a singular reality stemming from its remoteness and insularity, which allows specific measures to be taken and a certain differentiation in common policies. The Government of Spain has worked to ensure that the specific nature of the outermost regions is reflected in the budgetary instruments under the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and that it is not subject to any type of cuts. The impact of these agreements for the outermost regions as a whole, including for the Canary Islands includes:

• An allocation of 1.93 billion euros under the ERDF and the ESF for the period 2021-2027 for the outermost regions as a whole, which is an increase of more than 500 million euros on the 1.4 billion euros in the period 2014-2020. The distribution of the so-called “Outermost Regions Fund” is structured through support of 40 euros per inhabitant and per year in each of the seven years of the Multiannual Financial Framework. Until now, this support stood at 30 euros per inhabitant. The Canary Islands will receive around 660 million euros under this item.

• For the first time, the European Territorial Cooperation (Interreg) funds will make a specific allocation for the outermost regions, amounting to the sum of 280 million euros.

• The levels of financing under the Programme of Options Specifically Relating to Remoteness and Insularity (POSEI) are maintained for a period of two years.

Juan González-Barba also addressed with the Regional President, Ángel Víctor Torres, the EU’s support for the Canary Islands in tackling the migratory crisis. “Thanks to the government’s efforts, the EU has appreciated the situation in the Canary Islands and is getting involved in solving the crisis”, remarked the State secretary, through budgetary support and human resources, as well as through an effort in cooperating with countries of origin and transit. At any event, the Government of Spain is actively working to ensure that EU institutions step up their role.

During the meeting, they also reviewed the implications of Brexit on the islands, both in terms of mobility and tourism and in the field of the export of agri-food products to the United Kingdom, including the re-adaptation of the POSEI programme.

On Thursday, Juan González-Barba visited the Regional Parliament of the Canary Islands by way of an informal appearance before the members of the Board of Spokespersons, the Parliamentary Board and the Chair and Deputy Chair of the European Affairs and Foreign Action Committee. The event was chaired by Gustavo Matos Expósito, Speaker of the Regional Parliament of the Canary Islands and of the Conference of Regional Legislative Assemblies of the European Union (CALRE). CALRE is made up of 71 regional assemblies with legislative jurisdiction, representing some 200 million EU citizens. Juan González-Barba expressed Spain’s support for stepping up the political dimension of CALRE and working towards more institutionalised relations with the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament, He also agreed that the Conference for the Future of Europe constitutes an excellent opportunity to debate greater participation from the regions in European governance.

Juan González-Barba and the regional MPs agreed that “Europe offers an encouraging outlook for the Canary Islands and for Spain”. In the Regional Parliament, Juan González-Barba addressed the state of the situation of various dossiers of interest for the islands, including the EU recovery package, specifically on those budgetary aspects that affect the Canary Islands as an outermost region. The State secretary also engaged with the regional MPs regarding the coordination of the health response in the EU and on the issue of mobility. During his appearance, he also addressed the EU’s role in overcoming the migratory crisis in the Canary Islands and the state of negotiations on the future Pact on Migration and Asylum.

Juan González-Barba also held meetings with the Presidents of the Island Councils of Tenerife and of Gran Canaria, and with the Mayors of Tenerife and of Las Palmas. With these officials, the State secretary addressed the role of local and island authorities in the National Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and the EU’s support for the issue of migration, as well as on the future Pact on Migration and Asylum, the expectations on the restoration of mobility and normalisation of tourism flows and other important issues for local authorities, such as the European Green Deal.

Lastly, Juan González-Barba attended events with the members of the Canary Island Confederation of Business Owners and with the Tenerife branch of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations. Business owners in the Canary Islands showed particular interest in the effective management of EU funds and in the restoration of mobility once the pandemic begins to recede to help reactivate tourism flows. The start of the vaccination campaigns throughout Europe “opens up new expectations” in this regard, stressed Juan González-Barba.



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