SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, 16 May. (EUROPE PRESS) –
The President of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, arrives today in the French island of Martinique on the occasion of the Ministerial Conference of the Outermost Regions (ORs) of the EU, co-organized by the French Presidency of the Council and the Presidency of the ORs of Martinique, which It will take place this Tuesday and Wednesday.
Torres faces this appointment with the confidence that the new EU strategy for the ORs, officially presented on May 3 by the European Commission, will help these remote, insular and fragmented regions to face the challenges with the maximum possibilities that have left the COVID pandemic or, now, the war in Ukraine after the Russian invasion.
The new strategy of the ORs will be presented and addressed in detail during this Conference in Martinique. For this, the EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, will be present.
The changes introduced in the strategy have been demanded in recent years by the ORs and insistently claimed by Torres in order to adapt European policies towards these regions in the face of the consequences of the pandemic, which have affected, above all, sectors as sensitive for the Canary Islands such as tourism, as well as the current world situation and prices due to the conflict in Ukraine.
The head of the regional Executive highlighted the relevance of this event for the future of the outermost regions, whose rotating presidency rests with the Canary Islands from next November.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, Torres will participate in an internal meeting of the Conference of Presidents of the ORs, followed by a working session on said strategy between the representatives of the states and the presidents of the ORs. The session will be moderated by the Overseas Director of the Government of France, Sophie Brocas, and will be attended by the Secretary of State for European Affairs of Portugal, Tiago Antunes, and the General Secretary for the EU of the Government of Spain, María Dolores Lledó Laredo. . This meeting will consist of an exchange of views on the new strategy of the ORs and its implementation. The President of the Canary Islands will also hold a bilateral meeting with Lledó Laredo.
On Wednesday, Torres will meet bilaterally with Elisa Ferreira and will participate in a meeting between the presidents of the ORs, the Commission, the representatives of the States and the young people from the Roadtrip’EUR initiative.
He will also take part in the plenary meeting of the RUP Strategy and in a working session on the applications of article 349 of the EU Treaty that contribute to responding to the challenges of these regions, especially with regard to economic recovery. In his speech, Torres will place special emphasis on tourism, a key element of GDP and employment in the Islands.
THE CHALLENGES AND PROPOSALS THAT THE CANARY ISLANDS WILL POSE
The Canary Islands aspire to become a ‘zero carbon’ tourist destination with a stay in the Archipelago based on clean energy, thus offsetting the carbon footprint during the necessary transition until air and sea travel is also decarbonized.
From this maximum concern for sustainability, the president of the Canary Islands will also defend at the Martinique Conference that the ORs be exempt from the so-called kerosene tax so that these regions are not charged with a rate that harms the tourism sector and transport of goods. The Canarian delegation will insist that it is not a question of any privilege, but of consolidated rights in search of real equality for these regions within the EU.
Likewise, Torres will again propose the Canary Islands as the headquarters of the future European Tourism Agency due to the weight of the sector in the Islands, its extensive and proven experience, the safety of the destination, its professionalism and quality, its commitment to sustainability and the fact to have a season all year round, which has turned the Archipelago into a world tourist reference.
In fact, the Canary Islands are now the European leader in tourist overnight stays, above large capitals or established destinations. As has already happened in other meetings in which the ORs have shown their support for the candidacy of the Canary Islands, the president trusts in the support of the rest of the regions for this relevant challenge.
Recognition of the Canary Islands’ status as ORs in the EU is key for the Islands. In fact, the Islands are home to 50% of the population of the nine outermost regions of the Union and it is the region with the greatest economic weight of the territories under this condition.
Apart from the Canary Islands, the ORs are made up of French Guiana and the islands of Guadeloupe, Reunion, Martinique, Mayotte and Saint Martin (regions of France), as well as the Portuguese archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira. Its recognition as OR by the EU tries to compensate for its remoteness, insularity, fragmentation and its difficulties in developing economies of scale.