PRIORITIES OF THE ROMANIAN CHAIRMANSHIP-IN-OFFICE OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION
(July - December 2015)
Romania attaches great importance to regional cooperation and has devoted constant and particular attention to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. This semester, Romania holds, for the fifth time, the mandate of BSEC Chairmanship-in-Office. The primary task sought out by the Chairmanship is ensuring that intergovernmental economic cooperation can bring its due share to the sustainable development of the region and its stability.
Under the motto “Building Stability, Enhancing Connectivity”, the Romanian CiO will encourage a constant and constructive dialogue, which is a prerequisite for stability in our complex region. To enhance economic cooperation and development, the Romanian CiO will promote better inter-connectivity in our region, as improving and connecting regional infrastructure is the best approach to attracting investments and developing the economies of the Member States. The Chairmanship will focus on connectivity in the field of transportation – the main sectorial priority, but also on “soft connectivity issues” like combatting organized crime and tax evasion, environment and energy - equally sectoral priorities of its mandate.
Romania’s overriding theme of its involvement in BSEC has traditionally been, and will continue to be, full-fledged participation in economic projects, which have a multiplying effect and bring quantifiable added value to all the dimensions of BSEC activities and for all its Member States. Therefore, Romanian Chairmanship’s actions will aim at revitalizing economic cooperation and achieving concrete results. To this end, keeping the Economic Agenda 2012 as a guideline of action, the Chairmanship will pursue an approach based on the following key pillars: sustainability, complementarity, ingenuity, assessable progress in balance with the national economic development objectives of Member States.
The CiO will focus on the following goals and priorities:
- promote a constant and constructive dialogue within BSEC, a prerequisite for stability in our complex region;
- advance “The BSEC Economic Agenda. Towards an Enhanced BSEC Partnership” – the strategic guiding framework of our cooperation;
- contribute to the economic development of BSEC area through promoting regional inter-connectivity;
- enhance infrastructure connectivity as well as soft connectivity in the region in fields like transportation, combatting organized crime and tax evasion, environment and energy;
- draw benefit from EU policies for the region and project complementarities in fields of common interest for all BSEC MS.
The Romanian BSEC Chairmanship’s major goal is to increase the profile and the relevance of the Organization for its Member States, by making an effort to review and adapt its activities to the current needs of regional cooperation. The primary objectives pursued will be the continued improvement of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Organization.
While fully aware of the economic character of BSEC, which needs to be preserved and enhanced, the Chairmanship also believes that all Member States should observe the commitments made under the BSEC Charter. These commitments include adherence and respect to the principles of international law, as well as working together for assuring peace, stability and development for all Member States and their people.
The partnership policy of BSEC is one of the core pillars of the Organization, due to the geographical location of the Black Sea: a sea at crossroads. To this end, the Romanian CiO will work towards boosting the dialogue of BSEC with the international community, within the framework provided by the Charter. Supporting a closer, balanced and mutually beneficial cooperation between BSEC and the European Union, inter alia, by advocating for increased commitment of financial and technical resources to be devoted to the BSEC Region, via such means as closer trade ties and increased inflows of foreign investment, is a pre-requisite that will further strengthen our Organization.
The Chairmanship will act in order to forge a genuine partnership with the European Union based on flexible and pragmatic cooperation, derived from the EU’s long term priority to boost growth and create jobs, economic sustainability, the Integrated Maritime Policy, the Trans-European Networks or the Neighbourhood Policy, the Eastern Partnership which all represent strong incentives for higher efficiency of BSEC- EU cooperation.
The Chairmanship also aims at substantiating the interaction of BSEC with the Observers, Sectoral Dialogue Partners and the Related Bodies, in order to enhance the importance of BSEC and turn this interaction to the benefit of its Member States. In pursuing these objectives, the Chairmanship will be engaged in thorough consultations with the Member States, including informal ones, with a view to finding the common denominator regarding our joint action. The Chairmanship will engage in an all-inclusive, open, transparent and constructive approach.
Project oriented agenda of BSEC
The Romanian CiO considers that BSEC should keep and consolidate its primary economic mission, rather than evolve into a separate project-oriented institution. Strengthening the project oriented dimension should be complementary to the main function of BSEC, as a framework for promoting the economic cooperation of the Member States.
The Chairmanship believes that the existing legal and institutional bases for elaborating and implementing projects, including the establishment of the Project Management Unit and the adopted Guidelines of its functioning, are useful frameworks in this regard. What BSEC needs is enhanced political will to make use of this existing potential.
Way forward to 25th Anniversary of BSEC
The Chairmanship will start the reflection process regarding “BSEC@25”, respectively the rapid approaching of our 25th Anniversary as an Organization in 2017. This forthcoming important moment should offer the opportunity to all Member States to reflect their political vision and readiness to express their political will to move the Organization forward and to truly transform it in the most relevant and representative voice of the region, in accordance to the needs and expectations of the peoples around the Black Sea. Therefore, the Romanian CiO will act in order to involve all Member States, particularly the incoming Chairmanships, to team up and deliver to the Heads of States and Governments a real blueprint on how to make BSEC work better in the future.
The sectoral priorities set out for the second semester of 2015 are:
The Chairmanship will continue the development of transport cooperation among the BSEC Member States. As Country-Coordinator, Romania will organize a Meeting of the Working Group on Transport and will carry on with the implementation of projects foreseen by the Memoranda on transport and other relevant documents.
The Chairmanship will carry on the development of the intermodal transport within the Black Sea region, an area of fundamental importance for developing competitive alternatives to road transport. The Chairmanship supports setting up of a viable network of intermodal terminals as logistic platforms, instrumental in developing intermodality, as mentioned in the Thessaloniki Joint Declaration on 25 November 2014. In this respect, we will organize the second Meeting of the Task Force on studying possibilities regarding cooperation on intermodal transportation in the Black Sea region.
Taking stock of the progress achieved by the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Development of the Motorways of the Sea, the Chairmanship will follow closely the successful implementation of the objectives and the ongoing projects under the Memorandum of Understanding on the Development of the Motorways of the Sea at the BSEC Region (MoU on MoS), considering that the success of this major project depends on the direct cooperation with the EU.
The Chairmanship will convene a meeting of the Ministers of Transport of the BSEC Member States to discuss the current status and the perspectives of transport in the Black Sea region, preceded by an Expert Meeting for the preparation of the Final Declaration of the Ministerial Conference.
Combatting organized crime
As the Country-Coordinator of the Working Group on Combatting Crime, particularly in its Organized Forms, the Chairmanship will continue to steer the activity in this field toward issues of interest for the region, such as combatting trans-border organized crime, with an emphasis on trafficking in human beings, drug trafficking, illegal migration, child pornography, cyber-crime and corruption.
The Chairmanship will focus on the moving forward of the Annual Review of the Assessment of Trends on Trans-National Crime in the BSEC Region and on the follow-up to the BSEC Regional Action Plan for Strengthening the Criminal Justice Response to Trafficking in Persons in the Black Sea region, with the support and participation of the Member States.
The Chairmanship plans to organize a meeting of the ministers of the interior of BSEC Member States, in order to discuss issues related to combatting corruption, preceded by a preparatory meeting of the Working Group.
The Chairmanship will continue the work of previous CiOs and will identify new area of action towards achieving the objectives set out in the Economic Agenda 2012: durable energy and development of the energy market in the Black Sea region. The Chairmanship will encourage specialized international organizations as well as BSEC Observers States and Sectoral Dialogue Partners to participate in the Working Group meetings and will invite prominent experts to support the work of the Working Group.
The Chairmanship will concentrate its efforts towards a significant advancement of ongoing activities, such as the BSEC Green Energy Network, development of a Green Energy Strategy Paper of the BSEC Member States, ways and means for advancing towards the goal of establishing an Integrated Black Sea Energy Market, cooperation of the BSEC Member States in developing electrical interconnections among them and launching a BSEC Energy Conservation Campaign.
The Romanian CiO, and also Country-Coordinator of the Working Group on Environmental Protection, will continue to implement the Action Plan for Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection. The work of the Working Group aimed at establishing an information exchange mechanism for environment protection will continue, as well as the cooperation with UNDP and ICBSS for elaborating and streamlining the text of the draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy in the Black Sea region.
Through the activities to be undertaken, an objective to be pursued is to encourage a constructive dialogue and complementary action between all responsible factors with the environmental protection in the Member States – governmental institutions, local authorities, research and development institutes, NGOs – and also between BSEC and other international organizations active in this field, in order to ensure the sustainable development in the BSEC Region.
In this context, special attention will be given to strengthening the cooperation with the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution.
Trade and Economic Development
The Chairmanship will support the efforts of the Working Group on Trade and Economic Development towards promoting trade facilitation and simplification of customs procedures, elimination of non-tariff barriers to trade and for enhancing transparency and regional cooperation in investment policies.
The CiO will act towards the implementation of the Joint Declaration “Facilitating Interregional Trade and Investment” adopted by the ministers in charge of Economy of BSEC Member States in Chisinau, on 29 May 2015. The practice of holding joint meetings of the Working Groups on Trade and Economic Development and on Customs Matters will continue.
In order to build on this progress, but also in the wider economic context, Romania will continue to promote the implementation of a regional mechanism aimed at reducing tax evasion within the trade transactions developed by BSEC Member States.
Cooperation in Tourism
The Chairmanship will facilitate the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration of the Ministers in Charge of Tourism of the BSEC Member States, adopted in Athens in October 2014, with a special emphasis on promoting BSEC Region as an appealing tourist destination, as well as an attractive region for investments in the tourist sector.
The collaboration between the BSEC and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) will be further developed, on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding signed Memorandum of Understanding signed in Athens on the 23rd of October 2014.
As tourism is a sector with multiple development opportunities in the BSEC Region, the Chairmanship will encourage the cooperation between public and private tourism stakeholders and the promotion of multi-destination packages, including attractions from different BSEC Member States. A special emphasis will be given to the exchange of information regarding joint tourism projects implemented in the BSEC Region.
Health Care and Pharmaceuticals
The Romanian Chairmanship will concentrate its efforts on the operationalization of the already established Network for Emergency Preparedness and Response within the BSEC region (NET-EPR) and on finalizing the Draft MoU on the Exchange and Cooperation in the Sphere of Quality Assurance of Medicines. At the same time, an emphasis will be placed on the cooperation with other international public health organizations, such as ECDC and WHO.