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The Black Sea Region

In 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, the Black Sea became a direct neighbour of the Union. Building upon its involvement in the region, prior to the EU accession, Romania steadily became the most active EU member state in promoting the strategic importance of the Black Sea area and stressing the need for an increased strategic EU role in the region. The constant support of other member states, mainly Bulgaria, Greece, but also Germany – acting EU presidency at the time – added to the success of this approach and favoured the creation of the Black Sea Synergy. The relevance of the region began to be highlighted by the emergence of more EU policies and instruments for the Eastern neighbourhood (e.g. the Eastern Partnership - May 2009).

The main objectives of Romania in the Black Sea region, which were announced in a national strategy (2006), aim at creating and strengthening a stable, democratic, prosperous area in the Eastern neighbourhood, but also at opening the Black Sea wider region to the European and Euro-Atlantic values and processes. “The fatigue” of eastward enlargement should be replaced with a new paradigm of cooperation that would amplify the EU potential of influence and drive for change in the region, without excluding the possibility of EU accession. A better coordinated and more pragmatic action plan for the period 2009 – 2013 implies that our foreign policy for the region should focus on the careful assessment of our resources and objectives and the thorough selection of the initiatives to be undertaken. Initiatives will move forward-based, according to their feasibility, continuity with developing projects, the concrete benefits they can bring to regional cooperation, and the potential to increase EU involvement in the region.

The Black Sea Synergy emerged as a new proposal for an EU policy particularly designed for the region. It was initiated in 2007, during the German presidency of the EU, following the actions of Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and with the support of other member states and the input of the European Commission. It was officially launched on 14 February 2008, in Kiev, on the occasion of a conference for foreign ministers of EU and regional states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine). The main arguments for the EU to adopt the initiative were linked to the Eastern neighbourhood and its strategic position, the important connections to Central Asia, the Middle East, but also to the Western Balkans, the great potential to develop energy, transport and commercial routes, and the high relevance of issues like environment or democracy.