Commissioner Maria Damanaki commented: "Given the European perspective of Western Balkan countries, the movement of people, goods and services through the Adriatic and Ionian Seas is bound to increase. Preserving the marine habitats and ensuring the sustainable development of the region will be challenging and it is a challenge that we need to prepare for. I look forward to the input of all interested parties on this and to developing together a detailed plan for future action".
The maritime strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas builds on the Commission's Blue Growth initiative and on the Limassol Declaration on a marine and maritime agenda for growth and jobs, recently adopted by EU Ministers. The vision behind the initiative: making the sea a central space of innovation, economic opportunities and prosperity for all the countries around it.
Some priority areas have been identified, for example:
- Stimulating the creation of maritime clusters and research networks as well as formulating a research strategy to spur innovation;
- Increasing skills and mobility of the workforce, with greater transparency of qualifications;
- Optimising transport links by developing an integrated, demand-based, low-carbon maritime transportation network across the region, with special attention to island connectivity;
- Supporting the sustainable development of coastal and maritime tourism, with emphasis on innovation and common marketing strategies and products;
- Creating new jobs and business opportunities in aquaculture through research and innovation;
- Reducing marine litter and improving waste management in coastal areas;
- Modernising fishing activities through better compliance, conservation, transfer of information and cooperation on enforcement and control;
The strategy will be implemented in 2013 through an Action Plan to be jointly developed with the region's stakeholders. The Commission therefore calls on all equity parties at national, regional, and local level to propose concrete actions. This follows a series of workshops for a wide array of participants which were hosted by Greece, Italy and Slovenia in the course 2012.