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Black Sea Synergy

The Black Sea region, which includes Bulgaria and Romania, occupies a strategic position between Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. The European Union intends to support regional commitments tending to increase mutual confidence and remove obstacles to the stability, security and prosperity of the countries in this region.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 11 April 2007 - Black Sea Synergy - A new regional cooperation initiative [COM(2007) 160 final - Not yet published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

Black Sea Synergy is a cooperation initiative that proposes a new dynamic for the region, its countries and their citizens. Regional cooperation could provide additional value to initiatives in areas of common interest and serve as a bridge to help strengthen relations with neighbouring countries and regions (Caspian Sea, Central Asia, South-eastern Europe).

In this context, Black Sea Synergy could reinforce the impact of existing cooperation instruments (the pre-accession process in the case of Turkey, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Strategic Partnership with Russia) and regional initiatives (Danube Cooperation Process).

Areas of cooperation

The EU proposes to build on its experience to support initiatives promoting democracy, respect for human rights and good governance through training, exchanges and regional dialogues with civil society.

It will also make use of institutions like the South-east European Cooperation Initiative (SECI) to tackle issues of migration and security. Improving border management and customs cooperation will help prevent irregular migration and fight against organised cross-border crime (trafficking in human beings, arms and drugs,).

The EC advocates a more active role in addressing frozen conflicts (Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh). Cooperation programmes offer a way of tackling issues of governance, security, social cohesion and economic development.

As regards energy, the EU will continue to enhance its relations with energy producers, transit countries and consumers for energy supply security, an area in which the Black Sea region is of strategic importance. The various instruments in place, both specific (Baku Initiative, dialogue on energy security, ENP) and general (bilateral relations, expansion of the Energy Community Treaty, WTO accession), are a means of working towards regulatory harmonisation and providing a clear, transparent and non-discriminatory framework. The EU also supports research into alternative energy sources, energy efficiency and energy saving, as well as the modernisation of infrastructures and the development of a new trans-Caspian trans-Black Sea energy corridor.

The EC should continue to support regional transport cooperation initiatives to improve the efficiency, safety and security of transport operations and improve coordination, notably through the extension of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and the TRACECA programme. Other essential objectives include harmonising the regulatory framework through a dialogue on transport, uniform application of instruments and standards, extending the common aviation area and enhancing aviation and maritime safety.

As regards the protection of the environment, Member States will be encouraged to work within the framework of regional seas conventions. The implementation of multilateral agreements and a broader strategic cooperation are also essential, as is regional activity to combat climate change.

The EU's emerging maritime policy should embrace all the countries in the region, and focus on developing a cross-sectoral maritime cooperation network. As regards fisheries, the management of fisheries resources should be strengthened to promote sustainable and responsible use of stocks.

In the trade sector, the closer economic cooperation needed to encourage trade liberalisation should be based on preferential trade relations, WTO accession, agreements with Russia and Ukraine, and the implementation of ENP action plans to promote harmonisation of laws and regulations.

Cooperation in the context of research and education networks is another aspect of this synergy. It aims at developing on-line services and e-commerce, the interconnection of all countries in the area to the pan-European research backbone GEANT and providing high-speed connectivity. The Tempus programme is another instrument for cooperation in the field of higher education.

In the field of science and technology, the EC intends to promote capacity-building and S&T policy dialogue with the Black Sea countries, through the 7th Research Framework Programme and other relevant instruments.

With regard to employment and social affairs, the EU should support initiatives aimed at strengthening social cohesion and fighting poverty and social exclusion through technical assistance schemes (exchange of information and best practice, awareness-raising, training).

The lessons learned in the implementation of the EU's regional policy programmes for Bulgaria and Romania could be turned to account for regional development programmes throughout the area.

Financing

Instruments like the ENPI, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the regional activities of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank provide a financing framework.

Cross-border cooperation through the ENPI, the ERDF and the IPA should promote links between and strengthen the role of local actors and civil society.

In addition, the involvement of regional organisations should guarantee an appropriate level of regional cooperation, following the example of the Organisation for Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), to which all the countries in the region belong. Civil society organisations, under the aegis of the Black Sea Forum, could also provide a fertile medium for cooperation initiatives.

The strengthening of the European Neighbourhood Policy, including the building of a thematic dimension to the ENP and the gradual development of deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreements, would enrich Black Sea cooperation. Regional contacts should be facilitated by the removal of obstacles to legitimate travel and the promotion of university exchanges through the Erasmus Mundus and Tempus programmes. The Neighbourhood Investment Facility for countries with ENP Action Plans will help finance infrastructure investments, particularly in the fields of energy, transport and the environment.

Last updated: 06.03.2008
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