On May 21, 2019, Minister for the Business Environment, Trade and Entrepreneurship and Minister ad interim for Romanians Everywhere Ștefan-Radu Oprea, together with European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella, hosted the ministerial conference on the adoption of a Common Maritime Agenda for the Black Sea.
The event, jointly organised and funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by the European Commission, with the support of the Ministry for the Business Environment, Trade and Entrepreneurship, brought together high officials of the coastal countries (Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine) and the Republic of Moldova as well as representatives of the most important regional organisations around the Black Sea and of international financial institutions.
The Common Maritime Agenda adopted at the ministerial meeting reflects the priorities of the coastal countries and of the Republic of Moldova in areas circumscribed to the blue economy – maritime affairs, fisheries and aquaculture, research and innovation, connectivity, environmental protection, tourism, education, training and competence building. The paper will provide a framework for the public, private, scientific as well as civil society stakeholders to voluntary implement national or regional projects related to the blue economy and for the Black Sea Region to attract EU and international investment funds.
With the adoption of the Common Maritime Agenda, the Black Sea joins the rest of the sea basins bordering the EU in setting an integrated and consistent approach of blue economic growth going hand in hand with preserving cleaner seawaters – aspects that both Commissioner Karmenu Vella and Minister Ștefan-Radu Oprea emphasised.
In his address, Minister Ștefan-Radu Oprea pointed out that, notably in the context of its office as Council Presidency, Romania laid special emphasis on a stronger regional cooperation on the Black Sea, to be actively supported by the European Union.
The Romanian minister highlighted the pragmatic, bottom-up approach on which the Agenda was built. To that end, he recalled that the development of the paper was the outcome of consultations with relevant players in the region and that its fine-tuning had rested on intense negotiations among the seven participating countries, a process that was actively supported by the European Commission.
The minister also underlined that in order to implement the Agenda, the participating countries needed to expand and capitalise on the networks of stakeholders that had emerged during the development and negotiation of the paper. In that connexion, he announced that, in autumn, Romania would hold a national workshop bringing together a wide diversity of relevant stakeholders operating in the blue economy-related areas, in order to identify those projects that – on Romania’s initiative – could be implemented under the Common Maritime Agenda.
The Common Maritime Agenda for the Black Sea was developed following a consultation and negotiation process that lasted for more than 18 months. Thus, in the framework of the Facility for blue growth in the Black Sea (an initiative launched by the European Commission in November 2017), the coastal countries and the Republic of Moldova organised national multi-stakeholder workshops that mapped each country’s needs, priorities and projects in the fields of the blue economy. The Romanian national workshop took place in Bucharest on July 6, 2018. This consultation process was crowned with the regional workshop held in Istanbul on March, 19, 2019, a gathering that brought together around 200 players form the Black Sea Region.
The coastal countries and the Republic of Moldova officially expressed their political support for the launch of the Agenda at the ministerial meeting held under the auspices and in the presence of Commissioner Karmenu Vella, when the ministers charged with infrastructure adopted the Ministerial Declaration “Towards a Common Maritime Agenda for the Black Sea” (Burgas, May 31, 2018), under the Bulgarian Council Presidency.
The first draft Agenda was informed by the conclusions emerging from the national workshops and the models used in other EU maritime basins. The draft Agenda subsequently received various additions and improvements during more than 6 months of negotiations between the 7 participating countries. Romania was represented in the negotiations by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which acts as a focal point for blue growth in the Black Sea. The mandate of the ministry was underpinned by input from the relevant Romanian ministries and authorities, in the framework of a constant inter-institutional coordination and consultation process.
The adoption of the Common Maritime Agenda is circumscribed to the Black Sea Synergy and represents a new step forward in the implementation thereof (for additional information, please see the evaluation report on this topic, which was published by the European External Action Service and the European Commission on March 5, 2019):
The Common Maritime Agenda is available at: http://www.mae.ro/node/49003
Additional information on the EU support for regional cooperation in the Black Sea: