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EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR)
The General Affairs Council, on 29 September 2014, decided the creation of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR). Greece, as a member of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (AII) (1), has been leading the way in the preparation of the EUSAIR (2) , involving the EU Member States, Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia, the candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia and the potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, all members of the AII.
The EUSAIR, as an EU macro-regional strategy, constitutes an integrated framework, endorsed by the European Council, in order to address common challenges in a given geographical area where both EU Member States and third countries are situated. The objective is to strengthen cooperation in order to achieve economic, social and territorial cohesion. There are four EU macro-regional strategies under implementation, namely the Baltic Sea Strategy (launched in 2009), the Danube Strategy (2011), the EUSAIR (2014) and the Alps Strategy (2016).
The EUSAIR General Objectives and Pillars
The EUSAIR's overall objective, is to promote economic and social well-being and create growth and employment. The EUSAIR promotes projects of common interest under the four agreed thematic Pillars: a) Blue Growth (fisheries, aquaculture, services), b) Connectivity (transport, energy), c) Environment (protection of marine and terrestrial biodiversity) d) Tourism (management of tourist flows, creation of a common brand / brand name, improvement of accessibility, etc.). Horizontal issues include: (a) research and innovation and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises and (b) capacity building. The EUSAIR is also expected to contribute to the accession process of its four members (Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, as candidates, and Bosnia and Herzegovina as potential candidate to the EU). However, it must be underlined that participation in an EU macroregional Strategy should not be perceived as EU membership.
For the implementation of the Strategy, an effective multilevel governance system has been set up. Thematic Steering Groups (TSGs) have been created with respect to the various Pillars of the Strategy and coordinated by pairs of countries as follows: a) Greece and Montenegro for Growth, b) Italy and Serbia for connectivity, c) Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for Environment and d) Croatia and Albania for tourism. The TSGs refer to the Governing Board, which is constituted by the National Coordinators of the participating countries.
Implementation – Funding
Under the principle "no additional resources, no new legislation, no new institutions", applied to all EU macro-regional Strategies, project funding could be provided from the Cohesion Fund, the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance as well as from EU thematic funds (e.g. Connecting Europe Facility for the second pillar) and from International Financial Institutions. The ADRION programme (3) is designed to finance actions in the Adriatic-Ionian Region.
1st Forum EUSAIR & Ministerial Summit, Dubrovnik, 12-13 May 2016
The first EUSAIR Forum (4) gathered together representatives of the national, regional and local administrations of the eight participating countries as well as a wide range of stakeholders (academia, business sector, civil society) to discuss the progress so far and define the way forward. The forum also provided ample possibilities for networking and attracted over 600 stakeholders from the Adriatic and Ionian Region and beyond. The Dubrovnik Ministerial Declaration (5) highlighted the need for solidarity in order to handle the refugee issue, by encouraging action and exploring funding opportunities, so that EUSAIR can maintain its development character.
Greek Chairmanship of EUSAIR.
From 1.6.2016 until 31.5.2017, Greece co-chaired EUSAIR, together with the European Commission. The launching and implementation of projects, the promotion of the labeling process, as well as the enhancement of the Strategy’s ownership by the stakeholders, were among the Hellenic Chairmanship’s priorities.
2nd Forum EUSAIR & Ministerial Council of Ioannina, 11-12 May 2016
In the context of Greek Chairmanship, our country hosted the 2nd EUSAIR Forum and the EUSAIR / AII Ministerial Meeting in Ioannina on 11-12 May 2017. The forum focused on Blue Growth, the pillar led by Greece, and on the interaction with the three other pillars. The Ioannina Declaration (6) reaffirmed the political will to move forward and proceed towards the implementation of the Strategy and to strengthen the cooperation between the participating countries for the success of the EUSAIR.
The forum, in which around 600 stakeholders participated , was very successful, and gave a new impetus to the Strategy by creating a momentum for progress, which should not be lost.
Italy succeeded Greece in the EUSAIR’s Chairmanship . Italian priorities include the strengthening of the ownership of the Strategy, the improvement of coordination among funding instruments, as well as actions for the improvement of the EUSAIR governance. The social dimension of the EUSAIR (including the integration of migrants) is also to be highlighted.
The 3rd EUSAIR forum took place in Catania, Sicily on 24-25 May 2018. It focused on the 2nd Pillar of the Strategy (Connectivity), where Italy has a leading role, as well as on the future of the EUSAIR.
Moreover, the Ministerial meeting in Catania accepted the request of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to participate in the AII, while the procedure for its participation in the EUSAIR, is about to start.