Commissioners Hahn and Damanaki welcome endorsement of the EUSAIR by Europe's leaders.Today's decision by the European Council gives the green light to the Strategy which was proposed by the European Commission last June.

Preparations for the Strategy are already underway with the aim of promoting prosperity and growth in the region, improving its attractiveness, competitiveness and connectivity. With four Western Balkan countries involved, the Strategy is also set to play an important role in bringing them closer to the EU.

The Strategy covers four EU Member States (Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia) alongside Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. The non-EU members are equal partners in the governance and implementation of the Strategy. Organisations representing civil society and private companies are also involved in the specific actions and projects in the framework of the new strategy.

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, commented: “Today’s endorsement of the EU's Adriatic and Ionian Strategy is an important milestone. The aim is to tackle common problems together and make the most of the opportunities we share with our partners in the Western Balkans. It is now the responsibility of the Adriatic and Ionian countries, regions and stakeholders on the ground to work together to translate the strategy into results. Work should start as soon as possible. Success in the Adriatic Ionian Region will contribute to the prosperity and security of Europe as a whole".

Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, commented: "With this strategy, the Adriatic Ionian nations have in their hands the opportunity to move on from the crisis and to put the whole region back on track to future sustainable prosperity. Our Blue Growth strategy has already shown that seas and oceans have the potential to generate huge economic growth and much needed jobs. I’m confident that this macro-regional strategy will be the blueprint for future initiatives in the sea basin and that it will be watched with interest by Mediterranean countries".

Comprising some 70 million residents, the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region(EUSAIR) paves the way for closer cooperation among the member countries in four key areas: 1) Blue Growth, 2) Connecting the Region, 3) Environmental Quality, and 4) Sustainable tourism.

Read the European Commission's press release

Conclusions of the European Council Conclusion (23 and 24 October 2014)