Friday 14 March 2008

Åland in the European Union

A potential problem on the path towards ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Åland Islands (population 27,000) have made their appearance in international discussion surrounding the treaty.

An example of regions with legislative powers and as one of the territories mentioned specially in the context of the territorial scope of the EU treaties (Protocol No 2 on the Åland islands, in the 1994 Accession Treaty), the autonomous Åland province is of interest to students of law and political sciences, as well as regional authorities and active citizens.

Europe Information, of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, has published a 42 page brochure in English, which offers comprehensive information on the position of the province, with interesting aspects of both international law and inner autonomy:

Sören Silverström: Åland in the European Union (Helsinki, 2005)

The booklet can be downloaded here:{8AF46DE8-EB14-4084-9A79-344A770F84D6}

Along with 72 other regions within the European Union, Åland has a local directly elected parliament (lagtinget) and its own government (landskapsregeringen).

These RegLeg regions cooperate through their annual conferences of presidents of regions with legislative power. The latest conference was held in Barcelona, Catalonia, 15 – 16 November 2007, and the Barcelona Declaration offer the regions’ fairly positive view of the Lisbon Treaty then getting its final touches:

Ralf Grahn


  1. Hi, Thanks for your comment on my blog. Yes, I only recently started to blog - mainly as an effort to keep my English going and also because I sometimes think that we Swedish-speaking Finns are one of the least known minorities in Europe.

    Certainly it's interesting that Åland's Lisbon ratification process has made the world headlines. I really do think the Ålanders would potentially lose more than they gain from any move outside of the EU. Our government is never going to agree to giving them their own MEP voting district, the number of electors:MEP would be so low compared to on the mainland that it would never be a prospect that the mainland parties would accept (except Sfp maybe). That said, the EU has acted extremely unfairly on snus. How is it fair that Tallink still gets away with selling snus on its Estonia-flagged ships? I understand the Ålanders anger.

    Interesting blogg you have!

  2. Svenskfinland,

    I agree with your sentiments concerning the anger (and economic implications) caused by the distorted 'snus' (snuff) rules.

    But it is problematic if the province as a whole and especially local separatists foment trouble by demands which can not be met.

    Local dissatisfaction increases as a consequence. In the end, a local minority may succeed in placing Åland outside the EU, with scant knowledge of the future relations possible.

  3. They can always look to the CRown dependancies of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man for support.

    Just a thought.

  4. Well, moral support is fine, but they would have to deal with the members of the European Union, namely the member states.

    Somehow enlargement would seem to work against the possibilities to carve out special deals for various areas, territorial or substantial.

    It may have been easier back in 1973, when six founding members received three more.

    It was possible for the Åland Islands to achieve a special status in 1994, actually against basic internal market tenets and the main ideas behind European integration, but I am unsure about what an EU of 27 would be ready to concede in 2008/09.

    But islanders, if any, are used to uncharted waters, aren't they?


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