When is an island not an island? When the European Union decides it is not. A proposal from Brussels would modify the traditional dictionary definition of a piece of land surrounded by water, and could mean that many of the UK’s most famous islands would become legally land-locked. Under the EU plan, an island is not an island if it has fewer than 50 permanent residents, is attached to the mainland by a rigid structure, is less than 1km from the mainland, or is home to the capital of an EU state.
(The Guardian, 21 January 2003, page 5)
An island remains a piece of land surrounded by water. The EU has commissioned a study to examine the general handicaps faced by island communities. As it would be impossible to look at every one of the thousands of islands within the EU, margins had to be set in order to produce a manageable sample for study. There is no truth in the ludicrous suggestion that those islands not studied are no longer classified as ‘islands’. Equally untrue is the suggestion that the study is a covert means of reducing regional funding to certain islands.