Brussels – The European Parliament has approved an EU Strategy for the Black Sea, with the main emphasis put on energy and security.
At a plenary session in Strasbourg on Friday, parliamentarians overwhelmingly approved a report by MEP Traian Ungureanu, which outlined the main provisions of the strategy.
The main innovation will be the creation of a specific budget line for the Black Sea Strategy and the increase in human resources for its implementation.
The European Parliament expressed concern about the agreement between Ukraine and Russia to extend the stationing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.
European Commissioner for EU Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule promised to follow the recommendations of Ungureanu’s report while drafting the EU strategy for the Black Sea region.
The report notes that the EU, in its Black Sea policy, should encourage the priority financing of small-scale cross-border cooperation projects. Other priorities include the stabilization of the situation in the region, respect for human rights, migration management, the improvement of energy security, the environment, as well as social and economic development.
The MEPs also believe that “in order to provide visibility, strategic guidance and high-level coordination, ministerial meetings between the EU and the wider Black Sea region countries should be organized on a regular basis and include all actors and countries in the region.” The European Parliament also “sees Turkey and Russia as partners which should ideally be properly involved in Black Sea regional cooperation.”
The European Parliament invited the EU to develop “an early warning system as a conflict-prevention and confidence-building tool in the Black Sea region” in order to avoid destabilization and conflict-escalation.
MEPs also called “for the focus to be on concrete cases rather than general expressions of concern” and called “for consideration to be given to confidence-building measures such as public disclosure of arms sales and naval military activities.”
The strategy for the Black Sea region “comprises the EU Member States Bulgaria, Greece and Romania, the candidate country Turkey and the ENP partners Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, as well as the Russian Federation as a strategic partner.”
Among the main challenges facing the region are “protracted conflicts, displaced populations, bilateral disputes, closed borders and strategic rivalries leading to militarization and proliferation of arms, weak institutions and governance and the deterioration of democratic rule, cross-border crime and trafficking, border and movement management, and poor maritime security and safety.”