Corsica, Sardinia sign deal aimed at forming new, common area in western Mediterranean

Two islands seek coordination within the EU · Agreement includes air link proposal connecting Catalonia, Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Lazio · Corsican government says Sardinian law-making powers are "benchmark" for own ambitions

Pigliaru (left) and Simeoni sign the protocol.
Pigliaru (left) and Simeoni sign the protocol. Author: Cullettività Territuriale di Corsica
The governments of Corsica and Sardinia laid the foundations of an ambitious project that, in the long term, aims to assemble a new, common area on transport and energy in the western Mediterranean. In the short term, both governments say they want to strengthen the two islands' relations, which have been often more distant than their geographical proximity would suggest.

President of Corsica Gilles Simeoni and his Sardinian counterpart Francesco Pigliaru yesterday signed a protocol on establishing a bilateral cooperation that will be organised into three working tables: the first one, on institutional relations; the second one, on transportation; and the third one, on environmental, hydraulic, urban and energy issues. "A historic signature,"  Simeoni said.

Simeoni in December 2015 became the president of Corsica leading an alliance of pro-autonomy and pro-independence parties. The alliance's election manifesto included a proposal to strengthen ties with other western Mediterranean territories.

The Corsican government is currently on its way to negotiate a new status for Corsica within the French Republic. The island's executive wants the new statute to grant Corsica as much autonomy as possible. "The Sardinian autonomy, with its real law-making powers, is a benchmark in the process of deepening the Corsican autonomy," the Corsican government declares in the protocol text.

The deal also provides for a set of common measures to coordinate the two islands' political action within the framework of the European Union. Especially, the text says, to overcome "the disadvantages of insularity." An example of this could be a common proposal to set specific fiscal frameworks for island territories.

The western Mediterranean area

The agreement also highlights "the importance" of the two islands "in the [European] dialogue with the southern shore of the Mediterranean." In this respect, the text makes it clear that it aims to set up policies that go beyond the two islands. The deal says Corsica and Sardinia will be seeking to bring the Balearic Islands into the agreement in the first place, and other Mediterranean islands later on.

According to the Corsican government, this western Mediterranean dimension will be addressed in the areas of energy and transport.

Regarding energy, both islands say they want to sign an energy cooperation deal that can be "extended to the Balearic Islands and North Africa."

As regards transport, the two governments propose the creation of a network that links the islands with their western Mediterranean neighbours. The deal contains a proposal to "consider" an air link system connecting Tuscany, Corsica and Sardinia in the first phase, and expanding into the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and Lazio later on.