EU-Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region (EUSAIR)
The aim of the EU-Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region (EUSAIR) is to promote economic and social prosperity and growth in the region. The participating states aim to create synergies and improve coordination between all areas in the region, especially in the fields of sustainable tourism, environmental quality, blue growth and connectivity. The strategy includes ten states (four EU Member States Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia and six non-EU countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, San Marino and Serbia).
Although tourism is already one of the fastest growing economic activities in the Region, there is room to further exploit the regions’ natural, cultural, historic and archaeological heritage. Cooperation at macro-regional level can help promoting efforts to diversify tourism in a sustainable manner, while at the same time reducing the dependence of the sector on the seasonal model. Ideas for such initiatives include building the Adriatic-Ionian ‘brand’, and ensuring that its values are in line with the Region’s products and services and working closely with the cultural sector.
In addition, the Region has to work on limiting the environmental impact (coastal, marine, and hinterland) of the tourism sector while at the same time developing the Region’s potential in terms of sustainable tourism. This can be accelerated by offering innovative and quality tourism products and services and by promoting responsible tourism behaviour involving all actors in the sector. Connecting sustainable tourism businesses and clusters can help stimulating innovation and creating synergies. It is crucial to develop a commercial yet sustainable approach, by providing funding to innovative and sustainable businesses, expanding the tourist season to all year-round and promoting the Region in world markets.
Environmental quality is crucial for ensuring the economic and social well-being of the inhabitants of the Region. Water pollution (either through intense maritime transport, insufficient waste water treatment or the excessive use of nitrages on agricultural lands) not only causes significant costs, it also threats human and animal safety and health. The Region needs to coordinate investments in water, develop solid waste treatment plans and share planning and capacity building to prevent these risks.
The Adriatic and Ionian Seas are home to almost half of all the recorded marine species found in the Mediterranean Sea. They are however also struggling with intense fishing activity, aquaculture and coastal development, illegal fishing gear and lack of monitoring and law enforcement. Managing authorities need to exchange best practices and work on measures to improve the ecological status of the seas.
Climate change is expected to affect the natural habitats and biodiversity of the Region severely. These risks can be can be reduced by bolstering the resilience of ecosystems, protecting and preserving terrestrial ecosystems and harmonising national laws with EU legislation.
Connecting the Region
There are significant infrastructure disparities in the region, particularly between EU Member States and non-EU countries. Good railway access to the hinterland needs to be further developed. The Strategy aims to improve the region’s transport connectivity through a coordinated approach for boosting maritime transport and for creating efficient intermodal ports to integrate maritime transport with rail and road. Further, the Strategy improves cross border electricity connections, plans to build a gas ring in the region to enhance security of supply and wants to remove barriers to cross-border investments.
The Adriatic and Ionian Region is not currently exploiting the advantages from blue technologies that could be gained from better collaboration.
Blue Growth is a strategy for unlocking the potential of Europe’s seas and coastal areas through innovative maritime and marine growth, promoting sustainable economic development and job creation. The Strategy uses stakeholder involvement as well as product diversification to promote sustainable aquaculture.
The countries in the Adriatic and Ionian Region have differing administrative and political structures, government and governance systems. Training and better coordination of planning activities are needed for better marine and maritime governance and services. This will be achieved through data sharing, joint planning and the coordinated management of existing resources.