The European Council of December 2012 requested the European Commission to present a new macro-regional strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) 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 adopted on 17 June 2014 a Communication on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region, accompanied by an Action Plan.
The two general objectives of the EUSAIR are: 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.
And crucially, to contribute to the EU integration of the participating Western Balkan candidate and potential candidate countries, by bringing together countries with much shared history and geography.
The idea is to identify concrete joint priorities for the macro-region, making the best use of existing institutions, policies and funds and setting realistic goals for maximum impact.
|Four themes/pillars have been identified:|
Capacity building including communication-, research & innovation and SMEs development are cross-cutting aspects, whereas due account is to be taken of mitigation of and adaptation to climate change effects as well as of efficient disaster risk management (including prevention) as horizontal principles underpinning all actions carried out under the four pillars.
The relationship between the Maritime Strategy
The EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region largely builds on the Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas adopted on 30 November 2012. It shares the same geography, many challenges and main growth and jobs opportunities, and adds a new dimension of cooperation between partners on the coastal hinterland.
Maritime and marine issues are fully mainstreamed into the four pillars of the EUSAIR, notably with reference to:
- Research & Innovation on blue economy and maritime clusters;
- sustainability of fisheries;
- diversification and sustainability of aquaculture;
- maritime governance;
- marine knowledge, biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas;
- pollution of sea (eutrophication, marine litter and major oil spills);
- maritime traffic congestion;
- surveillance and short-sea and deep-sea shipping;
- island connectivity;
- maritime and coastal tourism sustainability and seasonality.
Strong emphasis is also given to building capacity in candidate and potential candidate countries so as to progressively comply with EU rules and standards such as the Common Fisheries Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Maritime Spatial Planning Directive.
The implementation of the Strategy
Experience with existing macro-regional strategies shows that good and stable governance is crucial to get the most out of this kind of cooperation. The recent Commission's Report on governance of Macro-Regional Strategies of 20 May 2014 identifies two main needs in order to bring clearer results and greater impact: stronger political leadership and effective decision-making, and greater clarity and better organisation for day-to-day actions.
The Report clearly places the onus on participating countries themselves to take the prime responsibility for ensuring that the Strategy and its accompanying Action Plan are implemented in practice.
A pair of countries - one EU Member State and one non-EU country - coordinated the development of the Action Plan for each pillar:
- Greece and Montenegro on "Blue Growth",
- Italy and Serbia on "Connecting the Region"
- Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on "Environmental Quality",
- Croatia and Albania on "Sustainable Tourism".
Effective and straightforward governance structures will be put in place as soon as the Strategy is endorsed by the Council.
Technical and operational tasks will be supported by the future Adriatic-Ionian transnational cooperation programme under European Territorial Cooperation goal.
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