The first meetings of the Thematic Steering Groups (TSG) of the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) for the pillars of Blue Growth (pillar 1), Connecting the region (pillar 2), Environmental Quality (pillar 3, see picture on the right) and Sustainable tourism (pillar 4) took place respectively in Athens (Greece) on 27 March, Trieste (Italy) on 21-2 April, Piran (Slovenia) on 5 March, and Tirana (Albania) on 12/13 March 2015.

Representatives of the administrations of the eight participating countries (four EU Member States: Croatia, Italy, Greece and Slovenia, and four non-EU countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia), gathered together to discuss on the rules, procedures, criteria, targets and indicators that will govern their work in order to implement the Strategy and its Action Plan. The European Commission was represented by several services including the Directorates-General for Regional and Urban Policy, Maritime Affairs, Environment, and Growth.

As an outcome of the meetings, the TSGs members agreed to carry out some "homework", based on the identification of the priority actions in the Strategy's Action Plan concerning their respective pillar, as well as the criteria to be used to select the best actions/projects within them. The TSG will also map possible sources of financing (EU and non EU) available in the countries for these projects. On this basis, a work plan will be established in the second round of TSG meetings during June/July 2015.

Each TSG is chaired by two pillar coordinators, designated by a pair of countries per pillar (1 – Greece and Montenegro, 2 – Italy and Serbia, 3- Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, 4- Croatia and Albania).

 Meeting of the TSG of Pillar 1 held in Athens on 27 March.



Meeting of the TSG of Pillar 2 which took place in Trieste on 21-22 April.








The TSG of Pillar 4 in the meeting held in Tirana on 12-13 March.


Following the adoption of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) by the European Council in October last year, the EUSAIR Governing Board held its first meeting in Ancona (Italy) on 22-23 January 2015.

Main points in the agenda were the preparation of the kick-off meetings of the Thematic Steering Groups per pillar, a discussion on the general criteria for the identification and prioritisation of actions/projects, and the setting up of a Facility Point for the support to the implementation of the Strategy. The meeting was co-chaired by Bosnia and Herzegovina (chair pro tempore of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative) and the European Commission (Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy).

As devised in the Working paper on governance and management structures endorsed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the eight participating countries in the EUSAIR Launch Conference (Brussels, 18 November 2014), the Governing Board coordinates the work of the Thematic Steering Groups in charge of implementation through strategic guidance with respect to the implementation of the Strategy and its Action Plan.

Participants include: Representatives of the eight participating countries (National and Pillar Coordinators), the Commission services, the Permanent Secretariat of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, representatives of other EU institutions and bodies, the Managing Authority of the future ADRION programme and the authority responsible for the EUSAIR Facility Point under that programme.

On 18 November 2014 the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) was officially launched in the Square Conference Centre in Brussels.

The conference gathered more than 500 participants and was welcomed by Commissioners Corina Creţu and Karmenu Vella. During her opening speech, the Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu, stressed that "this Strategy is far from being only about socio-economic development, or governance. It is about reinforcing the process of European integration. It is about strengthening the ties between the Member States and also about bringing the participating candidate and potential candidate countries closer to the EU".

The Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said on the same occasion: “This is a key moment for the prosperity of the Adriatic-Ionian region. A clean and innovative use of the Adriatic Sea will allow both the people and the environment to thrive. The potential for coastal cooperation in the region could become an example across the EU".

To read more about the statements made by both Commissioners, visit the Inforegio website

To find out more about the event, take a look at the Conference Report and its enclosed Joint Statement on Governance.

For further information, check out the Launch Conference

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)

The General Affairs Council meeting on 29 September adopted conclusions on the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR). Ministers also dealt with preparations for the upcoming European Council summit.

Ministers adopted a macro-regional strategy bringing together 8 countries of the Adriatic and Ionian region to boost cooperation for more growth and jobs.

The participating countries - Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia - will strengthen their cooperation in terms of maritime economy, marine environment conservation, transport and energy infrastructure and sustainable tourism.

The decision is now subject to endorsement by the European Council.

Council conclusions on the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region

More information

The European Commission has today officially launched a new EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region in the form of a Communication and an Action Plan, to help its 70 million residents to reap the benefit of closer cooperation in areas like promoting the maritime economy, preserving the marine environment, completing transport and energy links and boosting sustainable tourism.

The Strategy will also provide a valuable opportunity for would-be members and candidates of the EU to work alongside EU members, in particular contributing to the integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union.

This is the first EU 'macro-regional strategy' with such a large proportion of non-EU countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia) cooperating with EU members (Croatia, Greece, Italy, and Slovenia). The Strategy mainly revolves around the opportunities of the maritime economy - 'blue growth', land-sea transport, energy connectivity, protecting the environment and sustainable tourism – sectors that are bound to play a crucial role in creating jobs and boosting economic growth in the region.The starting point for this is the Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, adopted by the Commission on 30 November 2012 and now incorporated into the Strategy.

More information

Communication concerning the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian

Action Plan