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Brussels, 11 April 2007

Black Sea Synergy – bringing the region closer to the EU

The Commission has today put forward a new co-operation initiative of the European Union for the Black Sea region under the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The “Black Sea Synergy” aims at developing co-operation within the Black Sea region itself and between the region and the EU and thus implements the Commission's December proposal to add a regional dimension to the ENP. With bilateral EU policies addressing countries of the region set out in the ENP, the pre-accession process with Turkey as well as the Strategic Partnership with Russia, “Black Sea Synergy” will be complementary to the EU’s already substantial efforts to promote stability and reforms in the countries around the Black Sea. This initiative completes the “chain” of regional cooperation frameworks in the EU’s neighbourhood, adding to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the Northern Dimension.

Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said “With the accession of Bulgaria and Romania the EU has become part of the Black Sea region. Today, we have delivered on a promise made last December to develop a regional dimension to the ENP. The time is ripe to focus political attention at the regional level and invigorate ongoing co-operation processes, opening an additional space for cooperation with Russia, Turkey and our eastern ENP partners. I am also hopeful that Black Sea Synergy will contribute to creating a better climate for the solution of the "frozen conflicts" in the region.”

Black Sea Synergy will build upon ongoing Community sectoral programmes and initiatives in areas like good governance, movement of persons and security, energy, transport, environment, maritime policy, fisheries, trade, research, education, employment, social affairs, science and technology. It is intended as a flexible framework, to ensure greater coherence and co-ordination between activities. The initiative is based on the common interests of all partners.

Currently, in addition to existing Community funding for the countries of the region, a specific Black Sea cross-border cooperation programme is already in place which aims at stimulating civil society activities in coastal regions.

Consultations between the EU and ENP partners could be held back to back with those of the organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), with which the Commission proposes closer contacts and intends to seek observer status.

It is the Commission’s view that Black Sea Synergy should be launched by a high-level political event. Later, depending on progress, regular Ministerial meetings attended by EU and Black Sea countries might be envisaged, which could be held back to back with meetings of regional organisations.
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