Towards an EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region
Outcomes of the Stakeholder Conference on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic Ionian Region
On the 6-7th of February, the city of Athens welcomed a high level Stakeholder Conference on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, which gathered more than 650 participants, including the Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, and the Greek Minister of Development and Competitiveness, Mr Kostis Hatzidakis, alongside the Commissioners Johannes Hahn and Maria Damanaki and the ministers of Foreign Affairs of the eight participating countries.
The two Plenary sessions and four parallel workshops on the proposed pillars of the future Strategy provided a good framework for in-depth discussions. The inputs will feed into a formal proposal of Strategy (in the form of a Communication and Action Plan) to be adopted by the European Commission in June 2014.
- Take a look to the conference and workshop reports in the website of the conference, which remains active as a repository of information, including as well several presentations and speeches.
- Pictures of the conference are downloadable on flickr, and the webstreaming page is also accessible from the website.
Approaching lift off: focus will be key to success of new EU macro-regional strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian
Preparations have reached a milestone for a brand new macro-regional strategy to support cooperation among 8 countries in the Adriatic and Ionian region. Hosted by the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, a high-level Stakeholder Conference takes place in Athens on 6-7 February. It marks the end of a wide consultation that has involved civil society and stakeholders across the 8 countries. This will feed into a formal proposal later this year from Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn, for a tailor made strategy that reflects the needs and the capacities of the region. It follows a request from EU leaders in December 2012 to deliver the new macro-regional strategy by the end of 2014.
This is the first time in a macro-regional strategy that there has been an equal balance of EU countries (Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia) and non-EU countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia) working together to meet common challenges and build on shared strengths. Crucially in a region that has seen some of Europe's most serious conflicts, the strategy will help to bring the Western Balkans closer to the European Union. Its focus will be above all on blue growth, transport, sustainable tourism and protecting the environment. Through this, it will contribute to creating prosperity and jobs in the region.
The Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, adopted by the Commission on 30 November 2012, is integrated in the Strategy which will be structured around four key areas: marine and maritime growth, connecting the region (transport and energy networks), environmental quality and sustainable tourism. In addition, capacity building as well as research, innovation and small and medium side enterprises will inform the four key areas.
The stakeholder consultations were conducted between September-December 2013. Two countries, a Member State and a non-EU country, were responsible for coordinating the consultation for each of the 4 pillars: Greece and Montenegro on marine and maritime growth, Italy and Serbia on transport and energy, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on environment and Croatia and Albania on tourism. From October 2013-to January 2014 a general on-line public consultation on the strategy was also launched by the Commission.
Summary Report on the on-line public consultation on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region is now available!
The Commission organized a general on-line public consultation on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region in the period 25 October 2013 – 17 January 2014. The aim of the consultation was to gather ideas about the future actions and projects in the Adriatic and Ionian Region which could benefit from a macro-regional cooperation approach. The main results can be found in the Summary Report on the on-line public consultation.
- Summary report on the on-line public consultation on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region
The European Council of 13-14 December 2012 requested the European Commission to present a new EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region before the end of 2014.
Building on the lessons learnt and experience from the two current macro-regional strategies (EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EU Strategy for the Danube Region), the Commission is now proceeding to draw up an EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region . The new Strategy will integrate the Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, adopted by the Commission on 30 November 2012.
For more information and background on the forthcoming Strategy, please check the dedicated section in the INTERACT website.
What’s the issue?
The Adriatic-Ionian Region covers 4 EU countries (Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia ) and 4 non-EU countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia).
The region faces several challenges:
- Shortage on clustering and need for greater interrelation of businesses, research and the public sector
- Uneven socio-economic development
- Shortcomings in transport and energy routes and its interoperability
- Environmental threats, including the preservation of a high diverse marine environment
- Untapped potential on attractiveness of the tourist sector
Better coordination and cooperation between the countries and regions is needed to address these challenges.
Who will benefit and how?
The general objective of the new Strategy is:
- To promote sustainable economic and social prosperity of the Region through growth and jobs creation, by improving its attractiveness, competitiveness and connectivity, while preserving the environment and ensuring a healthy and balanced marine and coastal ecosystems.
The Strategy is also expected to substantially contribute to the EU integration of the Western Balkan countries.
4 pillars have been identified, focusing on:
- Driving innovative maritime and marine growth
- Connecting the region (transport and energy)
- Preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment
- Increasing regional attractiveness (tourism)
Moreover, "Research, Innovation and SME development", as well as "Capacity Building" are two cross-cutting aspects involving every area.
All macro-regional stakeholders can benefit from the Strategy, including: local, regional and national administrations, universities, clusters, SMEs, organisations and associations, private partners, international investors, etc.
Although the Strategy does not come with extra EU financing, a considerable amount of funding is already available to the region through EU regional policy, other EU programmes and financial instruments, and various international financial institutions.
The Strategy will help to mobilise all relevant EU funding and policies and coordinate the actions of the European Union, EU and non-EU countries, regions, financing institutions, private sector and non-governmental bodies to promote a more balanced development of the Adriatic and Ionian Region.
Why does action have to be taken by the EU?
- Half of the countries in the Adriatic-Ionian Region are EU countries and many of the challenges are covered by EU policy.
- The 4 non-EU countries are candidate or potential candidates to the EU, supported by the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) for candidates and potential candidate countries.
- As an independent player with respected authority, the EU is in a good position to facilitate cooperation.
- The EU already runs programmes in the region and so can provide opportunities for cooperation.
- The Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas will be an integral part of this broader macro-regional strategy.
- The new Strategy will be built on the lessons learnt and experience from the two current macro-regional strategies (EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EU Strategy for the Danube Region) and the report on the added value of the macro-regional Strategies
To get in contact with the team in DG REGIO please send an e-mail to REGIO-EU-ADRIATIC-IONIAN-STRATEGY@ec.europa.eu