Samsø at EU summit meeting in Brussels
By Director Søren Hermansen
To be fair, we were there during the summit we weren’t there for the summit, but we did visit a bunch of EU commissioners who support our work and Samsø’s efforts to create sustainable life on the outskirts of the EU.
The EU plays a significant role in a lot of the projects facilitated by the Academy. Since the birth of the Renewable Energy Island project in 1998, we have been a part of a lot of projects ranging from exchanging experiences to more hands-on projects looking at energy savings, education in sustainability, the implementation of renewable energy solutions and much more.
During this whole period from 1998 we have been part of the European Island network ISLENET. ISLENET was originally founded by the Danish island of Bornholm, Swedish Gotland, the western isles of Scotland, Crete, Sardinia, Madeira and the Canary Islands. Samsø has benefitted from being a part of such a strong network.
Today, ISLENET is a bit winged as several members had to cut budgets, so Bornholm is more or less out, we don’t see Crete much, and Sardinia’s leaders have retired. In response to the situation we together with Gotland took the initiative to update the network. The 24. of June we all met in Brussels on the occasion of the EU Green Week 2015.
We met in ISLENET to see if the project partners supported the formation of a new version of the island cooperation network. It basically all comes down to cash flow; if it’s low, it’s hard to maintain a steady engagement in the project. We met at the Islands Commission’s annual meeting to see if we could come to an agreement with the CPMR (Central, Periferal, Maritime Regions) to become one of the subsections of this big interest group. Søren Hermansen was the moderator of a workshop together with the director of DG energy (the energy agency of the EU).
The atmosphere was really good, and Dominique Ristori and I shook hand that we must work together on improving islands’ conditions!
As a scenic background for the end of the meeting we had a signature ceremony in which 35 municipalities signed the Pact of Islands, an agreement Samsø joined three years ago. Today, 105 European municipalities are on the list.
We brought a lot of good energy home and took the next steps toward making a new member list for ISLENET and coming up with a business plan the islands can agree on. It is remarkable how Samsø with its 3700 inhabitants manage to hold the European islands together. The EU is centralist project, and therefore a strong island voice is important!