EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region

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    Interreg transnational cooperation programmes have been operational for more than 20 years, implementing actions in the framework of the EU Cohesion Policy. These programmes bring together European regions and cities that are located in different countries yet are sharing many challenges and opportunities due to their common geography, history, and culture. 

    The geographic and cultural similarities defining the transnational programme areas provide an excellent basis for cooperation. In transnational projects, actors from the private and public sectors, universities and civil society organisations work closely together to advance new or improved solutions designed to meet the most pressing needs of their populations. But what does that mean in real terms? What do transnational cooperation projects and their results imply for the regions, cities, and citizens? Whilst it is impossible to present the full scope, diversity and added value of transnational cooperation in just a few pages, the publication '10 Things to Know About Transnational Cooperation' aims at providing a flavour of what is the role and achievements of Interreg transnational/interregional programmes across Europe. 

    The document was prepared by an informal working group including representatives from Interreg transnational programmes and Interreg Europe, with the support and facilitation of Interact.

    European Territorial Co-operation 

    The study ‘Macro-regional strategies and their links with cohesion policy’, contracted by Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy and conducted by a consortium led by COWI company, aims first at describing the main features of each macro-region (Baltic, Danube, Adriatic and Ionian, and Alpine) through a range of macroeconomic, competitiveness, integration and governance indicators. It assesses to what extent the strategies contribute to coordination and synergies between European Structural and Investment Funds and other EU policies and instruments. The study also takes stock of strategies' main achievements and appraises their socio-economic impact. It also identifies the barriers to overcome and the drivers to use in order to make them more efficient and finally looks at the potential of the macro-regional approach to contribute to the future cohesion policy. 

    This comprehensive study is based on the analysis of existing literature, desk research, interpretation of hundreds of data, and a survey sent to more than six thousands macro-regional stakeholders. The report is composed of five documents: one core report summarising the main findings of the study and one annex per strategy compiling data and findings concerning each of them. 

    On 11 and 12 May 2017, in Ioannina (Greece), more than 600 participants attended the 2nd Forum of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), jointly organised by the European Commission and the Hellenic Government.

    Held under the Greek (rotating) Chairmanship of the EUSAIR and hosted by the Region of Epirus, the Forum gathered together representatives of the national, regional and local administrations of the eight participating countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia) as well as a wide range of stakeholders (academia, business sector, civil society), to discuss the progress so far and define the way forward.

    George Katrougkalos and Alexis Charitsis, the Hellenic Alternate Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Economy and Development, hosted a meeting of the Foreign Affairs ministers ‎and the ministers responsible for EU funds, or their representatives, from the eight EUSAIR countries. At the ministerial meeting, the Commission was represented by DG REGIO Directors Lena Andersson Pench and Rudolf Niessler. The ministers adopted the Ioannina Ministerial Declaration where they agree to maintain strong political commitment, to strengthen administrative capacity and to ensure that strategy's objectives are duly included in EU funding programmes, and decide to set-up a collaborative platform via which countries can better coordinate their response to the refugee and migration challenges.

    This year's Forum focused on Blue Growth – one of the four Pillars of the EUSAIR – and its inter-relations with the other three Pillars: connectivity (transport and energy networks), environment and tourism.

    In a video message, Commissioner Creţu reaffirmed her true belief in the EUSAIR as a powerful tool to bring growth and jobs as well as to support EU integration of the participating Western Balkan countries, fostering stability in the Region. In another video message, Commissioner Vella welcomed the Forum's aim to reinforce connections between the four Pillars and referred to the Blue Med Initiative, which is meant to develop the Blue Economy in the Mediterranean.

    In four consecutive thematic plenary sessions, the Strategy's key implementers presented the EUSAIR project concepts identified so far by the eight participating countries under the EUSAIR Pillars, and discussed with the stakeholders the way forward.

    A Business-to-Business (B2B) session, organised back-to-back with the Forum by the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), brought together more than 250 participants from SMEs, universities, chambers of commerce, and other stakeholders from the Region, as well as the EIB, the JRC and other relevant European Commission services. More than 400 bilateral meetings were booked by participants, providing the opportunity for exchanges in order to find partners for projects and/or explore new business opportunities.

    The Forum was closed by Greece handing over the EUSAIR Chairmanship to Italy for the period June 2017-May 2018.

    More on the 2nd Forum in the EUSAIR website.

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The European Council of 13-14 December 2012 requested the European Commission to present a new EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) before the end of 2014.

Building on the lessons learnt and experience from the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, the Commission adopted on 17 June 2014 a Communication on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region, accompanied by an Action Plan . The Strategy incorporates the Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, adopted by the Commission on 30 November 2012.

The Strategy was endorsed by the General Affairs Council on 29 September (see Council Conclusions) and subsequently by the European Council on 24 October 2014.

For news and information on the activities and progress of the Strategy, please visit the EUSAIR's dedicated website www.adriatic-ionian.eu

To get in contact with the team in DG REGIO please send an e-mail to REGIO-EU-ADRIATIC-IONIAN-STRATEGY@ec.europa.eu