Eight countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia), a total population of 60 million inhabitants spread over an area of about 520 000 km2, with a GDP of about 1 billion Euros (1.83% of world GDP) and a workforce of 21.8 million people living on the shores of a sea basin that covers 0.9% of the sea surface of the globe. This is, in numbers, the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion.
An essential area for economic and social prosperity, stability and peace of the countries bordering the Adriatic-Ionian Sea, which provides a significant factor for the reconciliation among these territories and, at the same time, for the acknowledgement and rediscovery of the unifying values that have characterized the two shores for centuries.
In fact, the territories of the Macroregion have an extraordinary concentration of diversity, characterized by a dense network of relationships, exchange of people, goods and knowledge, where every place, stone, bight, harbour, town, big or small it may be, tells the millenarian history of people who live there, of their culture, their hopes. A reality which is ancient and precious but environmentally fragile and needs to be protected so that, starting from its territory, communities can meet the challenges and opportunities to ensure progress and well-being for future generations.
To respond effectively to this challenge, at the end of a route that lasted several years and which involved at all levels of governments, local institutions, associations of citizens, in 2014 the Council of the European Union – the major political body that governs the 28 countries belonging to the EU – has officially recognized the strategy of the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion (EUSAIR – European strategy of Adriatic and Ionian Region) as an innovative tool for transnational co-operation. It is a strategy that does not require new funding, new institutions or new legislation, but it aims at the better alignment of existing resources by creating a network of stakeholders at European, national, regional and local level and by using policies and funding programs. The development policies and financial resources made available by the European Union are agreed and shared among the communities of the eight countries. Furthermore, EUSAIR represents a new way to coordinate development policies of interconnection systems between the territories of the sea basin and the rest of the world, to stimulate an economy increasingly integrated with the resources and opportunities offered by the sea, to start up actions for the development of an immense artistic, architectural and cultural heritage and to ensure maximum protection of the landscape and the environment.
The success and effectiveness of this innovative tool for coordination of development policies will be the more effective, the more cohesive and conscious of belonging to a common destiny people, local communities and associations of citizens will be.
Being builders of their own future. Starting with the young!