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European Commission

Maria Damanaki

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Black Sea Economic Cooperation: the goals for the future

Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation 20th Anniversary Summit

Istanbul, 26 June 2012


It is a great honour to be in the magnificent city of Istanbul and represent the European Union at this Summit. President Gül, President Nikolic, thank you for your excellent organisation. I would like to convey President Barroso's best wishes for a very successful Summit.

Over the years, your Organisation has been a catalyst for cooperation and trust-building in the Black Sea region. And now, the Economic Agenda and the outcome of the Summit set out an ambitious and promising plan for future action. You have come a long way.

Also in Europe, we have come a long way. During the last two and half years, the European Union has taken important and far-reaching steps to overcome the economic crisis. We are at a crossroads. The European Union must make one step further so as to complete the architecture of our economic and monetary union. We are determined to move forward. We must take immediate decisions to correct deep-rooted imbalances and improve the investment environment. Boosting employment, for both women and men, and in particular for young people, is a clear priority for us.

The European Council, taking place at the end of this week, will aim to put Europe back on the track of competitiveness, growth, job creation and prosperity.

But the challenges go beyond the European Union. As part also of the Black Sea region, the EU wants to make a strong contribution and help in the process of peaceful and prosperous development of this area.

The Black Sea is important for us.

We want to play a constructive role in all the sea basins that surround us, taking up our responsibilities in full. The Black Sea is no exception. Practical cooperation is our main objective. And it is not just a matter of intent. It is about increasing economic benefits and social opportunities for people, and ensuring sustainable economic development.

There are two main fields of action for the European Union:

  • We intend to revitalize the Black Sea Synergy initiative as our contribution to the regional cooperation. We have chosen to focus on a number of sector-specific Partnerships, in the environmental domain, on maritime issues and beyond.

  • We are also committed to link the many instruments at the EU’s disposal together in a coherent way so as to enhance our overall contribution to Black Sea regional cooperation.

As Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, my ambition is to apply and adapt the overall principles of our Integrated Maritime Policy to the specific needs and characteristics of the Black Sea, towards a Black Sea Maritime Strategy.

This process is underway. It is an inclusive process. We cannot go for this strategy by ourselves. We need to work together with all the countries around this Sea. My intention is to listen to the people in the region - industrialists, academics, authorities from local to the international level, as well as ordinary citizens.

I plan to organise in Bucharest, early next year, a Conference bringing together all these countries and stakeholders.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is clear that cooperation among so many different countries, with their different sizes and traditions, and agreeing on one broad agenda is no easy task. The European Union knows this from experience. However, the key to success is always the same: the firm political will to cooperate, reconcile and compromise.

On behalf of President Barroso, Ms Ashton and myself, warmest congratulations again for your Anniversary.

Thank you.

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