The removed paragaph stating that “certain handicaps are more difficult to cope with for islands than for island states” was spurious and less than valid with reference to island archipelagos with a population of less than say 2 million, as I vouch from personal experience. Let me note too the significant problems that arise for islands without a national capital, attached to an island state. Here, given the double insularity, depopulation persists even when economic growth prevails. Purely quantitative measures fail to account for this problem. I refer to the island of Gozo. Even now, with economic growth running at over 4 per cent per annum in the Maltese islands, young people in Gozo tell you they have no future in their island. Depopulation will become irreversible unless exceptional measures are allowed which do not necessarily comply with wider EU rules and policies. These would involve a deeper economic intervention of the public sector in partnership with private business to create new enterprises, new jobs especially for young people. Digital ventures, financial services, artisanal and farming enterprises, health services could all be targeted to reverse depopulation, both when the national economy is performing healthily and when it is weak.

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