The role of European macro-regional strategies for sustainable development, security and stability has been discussed by the chairpersons of the Committees for Union Affairs of the Parliaments of the European Union in Sofia.
Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works оf the Republic of Bulgaria and the National Coordinator for the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, Ms Denitsa Nikolova pointed out that national parliaments can contribute to the consolidation of macro-regional strategies as an important instrument for cohesion. She presented to the participants at the Meeting of the Chairpersons of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees on Union Affairs of the Parliaments of the European Union (Chairpersons’ COSAC) the importance of the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region.
The aim of the Strategy is to consolidate the efforts of the stakeholders, giving them the means to build a region of security, prosperity and fairness. According to Ms Nikolova, one focus of the strategies is the development of the cultural and historical heritage and tourism in the region.
During his speech, Mr Raul Mälk, Ambassador-at-Large for Baltic Sea Region, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia and Chair of the National Coordinators group of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, noted that he appreciates the inclusion of the topic for macro-regional strategies as one of the main issues addressed by the COSAC Chairpersons’ meeting. The European Baltic Sea Strategy covers several formats for regional cooperation - a Council of the Baltic Sea States, structure for Maritime Cooperation and several working groups related to different fields of activity.
“The Strategies play an important role in the implementation of long-term policies” said Mr Raul Mälk. According to him, better integration of macro-regional strategies into the larger context of EU Member States' strategies and policies should be ensured. “We have a good dialogue with the regional cooperation programmes”, he highlighted.
The Head of division Regional Cooperation and the OSCE of the European External Action Service, Ms Audrone Perkauskiene emphasized that the developed by the European Union Black Sea Synergy is the EU’s main contribution to the region. It is a long-term initiative, which complements the bilateral and sectoral activities of the EU. “The Black Sea Synergy is inclusive, flexible and open to all countries in the region” said Ms Audrone Perkauskiene and added that promoting regional dialogue and trust is at the core of this strategy. According to her, the geopolitical landscape of the Black Sea is unique. Ms Parkauskiene pointed out that there are many different networks with distinct interests, aspirations and interactions, regardless of the challenges. The progress has been achieved through implementation of practical projects in the region. Among them there are programmes to improve environmental monitoring in the Black Sea and a programme for cross-border cooperation in the Black Sea, which doubled its budget for the period 2014 - 2020, reaching nearly 44 million euros. “Progress towards implementation of the Black Sea Synergy is not as big as we wanted, there is a significant, untapped potential in this region”, emphasized Ms Audrone Perkauskiene.
“We can solve the common challenges through cooperation” she stressed and added that the lessons learned from other strategies should be taken into account and best practices should be implemented.