The Action Plan of the Strategy shall be implemented by mobilising and aligning all available EU, international, national and private funding of relevance for the four pillars and the specific topics identified under each pillar.
New regulatory framework
The new regulatory framework for European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for 2014-2020 and the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) for non-EU countries provide significant financial resources and a wide range of tools and technical options.
The macro-regional approach has already been included in the new generation of Regulations for the programming period 2014-2020. As Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes for EU countries (Greece, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia) are advised to take the forthcoming Adriatic-Ionian macro-regional strategy into account, attention is being paid to the Strategy in the current negotiation process. In addition, due to the coordinated approach of the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy and the Directorate General for Enlargement, Strategy Papers for non-EU countries (Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania) will also explicitly refer to the Strategy.
Moreover, considering that the macro-regional strategy will contribute directly to national objectives, thereby becoming an integral component of national, regional and local strategies, all kinds of existing funding sources beside EU level can be harnessed, dramatically increasing funding possibilities in support of cooperation activities throughout the macro-region.
Other funding sources
Other means are also available. In addition to interventions of international financial institutions, the Western Balkan Investment Framework (WBIF) provides finance and technical assistance for strategic investments, particularly in infrastructure, energy efficiency and private sector development. Capitalising on the work done in the framework of the two other macro-regional strategies on innovative financing, implementation of projects - also in the non-EU countries - can benefit from innovative options involving, among others, the WBIF.
The European Investment Bank (EIB), for its part, stands ready to mobilise its financing tools and expertise in support of suitable projects under the topics included in the Action Plan. The EIB can extend support to both public and private sector activities in the form of lending, blending and technical advice.It offers a variety of financing instruments, ranging from investment loans for both direct and indirect financing to equity funds via the European Investment Fund. An overview of how the EIB can contribute to implementation of the Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region is enclosed in this document.
Specific funds for the pillars
Funds of relevance for the specific pillars are also available. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund as well as Horizon 2020, which targets Blue Growth as one of its focus areas for RTD, can lend key support to implementation of actions and projects under Pillar 1.
Of high relevance for Pillar 2, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) 2014-2020 supports the development of high-performing, sustainable and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks in the field of transport, energy and digital services. The Facility focuses on projects with high EU added value, such as building missing cross-border links and removing bottlenecks along main trans-European transport corridors. The CEF creates significant leverage and attracts additional public and private funding through the use of innovative financial instruments, notably EU project bonds. CEF financing for actions in pre-accession countries can be granted if these actions are necessary for implementing projects of common interest. CEF coordination with the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme as well as with the Cohesion and Structural Funds will be central. The Commission has proposed that important parts of the budget of the ESIF for 2014-2020 be dedicated to projects related to energy, transport and ICT infrastructure.
As for Pillar 3, funds under the LIFE programme are open also to non-Member States.This programme explicitly mentions cross-border actions and includes mitigation as well as an adaptation pillar. Pillar 4 may, among others, benefit from the COSME programme for SMEs.