Answer given by Mr Hahn on behalf of the Commission
1. The Commission welcomes initiatives which enable regions and countries to work together through all forms of cooperation including macro-regional strategies, if this is considered to be the most appropriate solution.
However, acknowledging that it is necessary to assess comprehensively the added value of existing strategies, the Commission will present a report in June 2011 on the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region and by the end of 2012 on the EU strategy for the Danube region. In addition, the Commission has been invited by the Council to report by June 2013 on the broader concept of macro-regional strategies.
In the meantime, discussions are taking place with the Member States on the options for the future. It is important that any proposal for the future satisfies a certain number of conditions:
Strong consensus on the principal objectives of the strategy, along with an understanding of why more conventional approaches to governance have failed.
Strong support for the strategy at every level, from national governments to local communities and bodies (and willingness to align cohesion policy funding).
The necessary staff resources need to be available, whether from within the Commission or from the regions themselves.
2. Concerning the prospects for a possible Adriatic-Ionian macro-regional strategy, the Commission has established close contacts with the pertinent services in Italy, Slovenia and Greece regarding their joint initiative to develop an EU strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region. An exchange of views is currently taking place on the basis of a preliminary reflection paper.
The region also continues to work closely with the Commission in respect of drawing up a maritime strategy.