Brussels, 24 October 2014
Commissioners Hahn and Damanaki welcome endorsement of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region by Europe's leaders
The European Commission has welcomed the endorsement today by EU leaders of the new EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR). Today's decision by the European Council gives the green light to the Strategy which was proposed by the European Commission last June (IP/14/690).
Preparations for the Strategy are already underway with the aim of promoting prosperity and growth in the region, improving its attractiveness, competitiveness and connectivity. With four Western Balkan countries involved, the Strategy is also set to play an important role in bringing them closer to the EU.
The Strategy covers four EU Member States (Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia) alongside Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. The non-EU members are equal partners in the governance and implementation of the Strategy. Organisations representing civil society and private companies are also involved in the specific actions and projects in the framework of the new strategy.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, commented: “Today’s endorsement of the EU's Adriatic and Ionian Strategy is an important milestone. The aim is to tackle common problems together and make the most of the opportunities we share with our partners in the Western Balkans. It is now the responsibility of the Adriatic and Ionian countries, regions and stakeholders on the ground to work together to translate the strategy into results. Work should start as soon as possible. Success in the Adriatic Ionian Region will contribute to the prosperity and security of Europe as a whole".
Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, commented: "With this strategy, the Adriatic Ionian nations have in their hands the opportunity to move on from the crisis and to put the whole region back on track to future sustainable prosperity. Our Blue Growth strategy has already shown that seas and oceans have the potential to generate huge economic growth and much needed jobs. I’m confident that this macro-regional strategy will be the blueprint for future initiatives in the sea basin and that it will be watched with interest by Mediterranean countries".
Comprising some 70 million residents, the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region(EUSAIR) paves the way for closer cooperation among the member countries in four key areas: 1) Blue Growth, 2) Connecting the Region, 3) Environmental Quality, and 4) Sustainable tourism.
Building on the experience of the existing macro-regional strategies: the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, EUSAIR offers a framework for mobilising and aligning existing EU, pre-accession and national funding instruments, with commonly agreed strategic objectives.
The participating countries are currently identifying the national and sectoral coordinators that will take care of the Strategy's implementation at a national and macro‑regional level. A Launch Conference organised by the Italian Presidency of the Council in cooperation with the European Commission, will take place in Brussels on 18 November.
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 new Strategy incorporates the Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, adopted by the Commission on 30 November 2012.
From September to December 2013, a wide stakeholders' consultation on the content of the Strategy Action Plan was conducted across the region by the participating countries. The European Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy also launched a public consultation on the Strategy The consultation was closed by a high-level Stakeholder Conference in Athens on 6/7 February, jointly organised by the Greek Presidency of the Council and the European Commission.
The European Council has also invited the Commission, in cooperation with Member States, to develop an EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) by June 2015. Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, comprising some 48 regions and 70 million people would be involved. A stakeholder conference is scheduled for 1-2 December to close the consultation process. The Commission will present a proposed Communication and Action Plan by June 2015.