Presidency priorities can 'build bridges' across Europe

The CPMR will help to bring together different actors from both within Europe and its neighbours to meet the Greek presidency goals, explains Eleni Marianou.

By Eleni Marianou

15 Jan 2014

The Greek presidency represents an important opportunity and challenge for the conference of peripheral maritime regions (CPMR), the only regional organisation structured around geographical commissions. These correspond to sea basins, from the Baltic to the Black Sea also encompassing the Atlantic, North Sea and Mediterranean.

Certainly the Mediterranean, the islands and the Balkan and Black Sea commissions will be cooperating with the next EU presidency, but also CPMR as a whole will work on most of the Greek priorities, notably on growth, jobs, territorial cohesion, maritime policies, further integration of the EU, as well as migrations, borders and mobility.

On cohesion policy, we are the only association raising concerns about the potential contradiction between the European semester annual cycle of country specific recommendations and the multiannual investments made through European structural and investment funds. On this issue, Annika Annerby Jansson, our president, will be involved in the informal council on cohesion in April supporting the idea that these investments should be given the appropriate legal and financial framework to be fully operational and effective. During the council, Ugo Cappellacci, president of the CPMR islands commission, will be focusing on the need to include criteria other than GDP able to address geographical handicaps for the next programming period.

"We are keen to get involved in the inter-ministerial conference on maritime issues in May, underlining the importance of implementing the integrated maritime policy"

As regards maritime policy, we are keen to get involved in the inter-ministerial conference on maritime issues in May, underlining the importance of implementing the integrated maritime policy, increasing maritime safety, focusing on a better knowledge of the oceans and also developing the blue growth approach. Particularly on this last issue, we believe that maritime professions should become more attractive, and it supports not only emerging maritime economic sectors, such as renewable ocean energy, coastal tourism or blue biotechnologies, but also existing sectors, such as fisheries, aquaculture, and transport. 

Concerning the future of EU integration and all issues linked to the EU borders, we launched in 2012 an in-depth reflection on macro-regions that correspond to 'catchment areas' and span across different territories with common characteristics requiring transnational action. Through its 'macro-regions task force' we aim to work on these particular cooperation areas and bring together different actors from within Europe and its neighbours, thus providing a bridge for cooperation across Europe and beyond. The Greek presidency along with the Italian will certainly work on developing and implementing the Adriatic-Ionian strategy and will touch upon the overall Mediterranean strategy. 

The CPMR, particularly our inter-Mediterranean commission, will support this work, outlining a territorial approach linked to the experiences of its members. In this respect, a 'Stakeholder conference on the Adriatic-Ionian strategy' is already scheduled in Athens for February by the Greek presidency. We will be involved in this event highlighting regional experiences and challenges on the topics to be addressed. Our inter-mediterranean commission will also meet in Patras in March to address the issue of how to implement an integrated approach to maritime policy across the Mediterranean. 

We have been and will seek to continue our useful involvement with all EU presidencies so as to actively support the interests and concerns of its member regions. We hope that our key priorities regarding maritime policy, enhancing accessibility and respecting territorial cohesion will be carried through by both the Greek and Italian presidencies, in particular in this important geopolitical space that is the Mediterranean.