Blue Growth a priority as EU launches Adriatic and Ionian Strategy
Better cooperation between countries in the Adriatic and Ionian regions is needed to address shared challenges and better exploit joint opportunities, the EU Fisheries department said today in a statement. The strategy was officially launched in June 2014 to help facilitate this coordination while also helping the regions' 70 million citizens to benefit from a boost in the maritime economy, the preservation of the marine environment, stronger transport and energy links and increased tourism.
The Strategy will also provide a valuable opportunity for non EU-countries to work alongside EU members, in particular contributing to the integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union.
This is the first EU 'macro-regional strategy' with such a large proportion of non-EU countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia) cooperating with EU members (Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia). The Strategy mainly revolves around the opportunities of the maritime economy - blue growth, land-sea transport, energy connectivity, protecting the environment and sustainable tourism – sectors that are bound to play a crucial role in creating jobs and boosting economic growth in the region. The starting point for this is the Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, adopted by the Commission on November 30, 2012 and now incorporated into the Strategy.
European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn commented, "Working together to tackle common challenges and promote shared potential makes great sense. The Adriatic Ionian will be Europe's third macro-regional strategy. The countries involved should learn lessons from the Baltic Sea and Danube Strategies, namely the importance of focusing on a few priorities with strong political leadership, if it is to have a real impact. In a region that has seen some of Europe's most serious recent conflicts, the Adriatic Ionian Strategy, with its cooperation between EU and non-EU neighboring countries, could also play an important part in helping the integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union."
Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said, "The maritime challenges we face in the Adriatic and Ionian Region are not unique to any one country: from overfishing to pollution, traffic congestion, transport connections and seasonal tourism: the only way that makes sense to tackle these issues is the united, coherent way. Since there is growth potential many of these areas, the action plan for the Adriatic Ionian can help propel the region out the crisis and put its economy back on track."
A pair of countries – one EU Member State and one non-EU country- coordinated the development of each element of the Action Plan:
- Greece and Montenegro on “Blue Growth”,
- Italy and Serbia on "Connecting the Region" (transport and energy networks),
- Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on "Environmental Quality",
- Croatia and Albania on "Sustainable Tourism".
In addition, capacity building as well as research, innovation and small and medium size business are cross-cutting aspects. Climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as disaster risk management are horizontal principles relevant to all four pillars.