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Adriatic and Ionian Chambers FORUM Budva-Bečići 16-18 May 2005 JOINT PROJECT PLANNING IN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE NEW EUROPEAN UNION NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICY Flavio Burlizzi Mondimpresa Brussels I wish to thank specially the organisers for the invitation and the opportunity to analyse the European Community perspectives in this region with particular emphasis on project planning. My aim is to describe current developments and direct consequences on this strategic area for the future of the European Union. The near opening of accession negotiations with Croatia and, in the middle-term, with the FYR of Macedonia, means that the accelerated process that will lead to a new Europe in the years ahead has already started. This process, which has been given further political impulse by the 2003 Thessaloniki Agenda and the 2004 adoption of European Partnerships, seems to be orientated towards a more active integration policy post 2007. By the assessment of steps already taken at European level in this area over the last years an ambiguous scenario is evinced. The CARDS program, the principal instrument of technical and financial support at disposal of the European Union, though still obtaining satisfactory results in some sectors (regional infrastructure network, local development, environmental policies and, in some cases, market organisation, commerce, promotion of public and private investment), highlights the need for a reinforced intervention in vital fields such as the public administration reform, the legislative supremacy, support to democracy and even more specific fields like gender parity. In fact, through an overall evaluation we may observe that local beneficiary organisations responsible for launching the reform process in the region are not taken into consideration by proposed initiatives. This could be explained by weak management decentralisation and lack of clear strategy of policies. As a consequence, they result inadequate and not sustainable in the long-term. The programmes, which were first oriented to the objectives of reconstruction and recovering, are now firmly committed with a more co-ordinated perspective of supporting administrative reform and institution building. Therefore, the promotion of economic development becomes the new challenge against which to measure its success. Hence it is necessary to think not only about the capacity of different institutional subjects to operate in real partnership with local beneficiaries, but also about the role to be played by European "territories" in latu sensu in the context of regional strategy, taking into account available instruments for implementing policies once targeted at reconstruction and now at economic development. These two issues are fundamental for examining the perspectives and the role to be played by Chambers which I believe is central. The Financial Perspectives 2007-2013, currently under negotiation by the EU's 25 countries, seek to reform all foreign assistance instruments at disposal of the European Union. From 2007 onwards, the Commission proposes to support co-operation at land and sea external borders by means of two instruments: the Instrument of Pre-Access Assistance (IPA) and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). The proposals foresee € 13.4 billion for the new IPA instrument which shall substitute, in a more coherent framework, several existing programs (PHARE, ISPA, SAPARD, CARDS etc.). Beneficiary countries will be divided into 2 categories, depending on their status as either candidate countries or potential candidate countries, but the approach will be extremely flexible in order to quick accommodate alterations and adjustments over the long period of implementation. In the Balkan region, IPA shall emphasize the stabilisation process, the regional cooperation, the measures aimed to promote economic development, as well as the progressive alignment of legislation with the acquis communaitaire in the mutual interest of the EU and the beneficiary country. ENPI represents the second innovative instrument for the future management of resources by the European Union. From March 2003 to June 2004, the European Commission and the European Council have set out the guidelines of the new neighbourhood policy aimed, according to then President Prodi, to create a ring of friends with those countries around the land and sea borders of the new enlarged EU and which are not yet potential candidates for membership: Russia, the Western Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (Ukraine, Moldavia in a first phase and Belarus, as soon as democracy will be adopted by this country), the 10 countries of the Mediterranean Basin which participates in the Barcelona process, except Turkey (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Syria and Libya, which is looking forward fully participation). This project foresees the later involvement of the Southern Caucasus region (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia). The objective is to promote political and economic security in an area often distressed by political instability, economic vulnerability, institutional weaknesses, conflicts, poverty and social exclusion. With this goal, the European Union has adopted a strategy aimed to promote stability and sustainable development at external borders so as to allow its neighbours to share progressively the benefits of the enlargement to 25. In short, the possibility of sharing advantages and opportunities in change of a clear requirement: the implementation of political, economic and institutional reforms and the sharing of common values, such as the rule of law, good governance, the respect for human rights, including minority rights, the promotion of good neighbourly relations and the principles of market economy and sustainable development. For these countries, the main objective of proposals forwarded by the European Commission are the progressive alignment of legislation to EU standards, so as to allow them access to EU markets, and the promotion of cooperation in the sectors of energy, transports, information society, environment, research and innovation and social policies. In addition to these two new instruments, new initiatives that will foster the relationship between the EU and the Western Balkans in the next years also include the strategy proposed in the framework of the future New Objective 3 of Structural Funds (European territorial cooperation). This initiative, based on INTERREG experience, will allocate significant additional resources in a new coherent framework of measures to be shared among European neighbour countries. According to the Commission, the specific elements responsible to assure coherence in all programmes of cross-border cooperation are: active methodology like Structural Funds for the establishment of solid partnerships at local level, multiyear measures, decentralisation of project selection and joint management with beneficiary institutions. I have tried to make it clear enough the perspectives in the middle and long-term. Now I would like to describe some opportunities offered in the short-term. In order to assure the coherence of policies, the Commission has decided that, until the end of the 2006, the Western Balkans shall participate in the pilot phase of implementation of new programmes, even though they are not included in the neighbouring policy as potential candidates for membership. € 15 million per year shall be added to CARDS funds foreseen until next year for helping beneficiary countries to participate in ten neighbourhood programmes active in the area, which will enhance and replace existing programmes of cross-border cooperation. The first calls for proposals have already been published and the Commission is intensifying, through its regional delegates and the Agency for Reconstruction, the divulgation of information in the whole area. An additional interesting aspect is increased access to several Community programs offered to Balkan countries by CARDS in the period 2005-2006. Even though access will be restricted to a limited number of programmes at an initial phase, such initiative is an important step for the establishment of a new framework of procedures and administrative culture certainly not familiar to beneficiary countries to which they should get used to. What role can be played by the Chambers operating in this region? In my opinion, Forum commitment with joint project planning is completely in line with several characteristics of the European Commission efforts towards this area. The fostering of administrative reform, decentralisation of programmes and management of resources, together with the need for promoting economic development call for measures aimed to capacity building and targeted not only to institutions but also to the local entrepreneurial system, which is the final beneficiary of many of proposed actions. The limited commitment of European "territories" in latu sensu in the construction of virtuous processes in the region requires a consistent effort based on network relationships with the purpose of establishing an atmosphere of confidence and mutual collaboration necessary for the success of proposed initiatives. Careful joint monitoring of the region necessities in the context of priorities defined by the Commission will offer Chambers the opportunity to play an important role, possibly overcoming obstacles to regional cooperation that programmes like CARDS have had to face over the last years. Joint project planning has been always a priority to Mondimpresa, Agency of Italian Chambers of Commerce for the internationalisation. Two concrete examples concern the Balkan region. Above all, INTEGRA network, operating for almost 3 years and composed of executives from 23 Mediterranean, Middle-East, Near-East and Balkan countries. Nine structures coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR of Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro benefit by the opportunity to operate inside one or more Italian Service Centres; there are 35 such Centres in total, the greater number of which linking up with Chambers, thus acquiring direct knowledge of technical mechanisms of district/production process and taking advantage of contacts with most active enterprises potentially interested in cooperation. Furthermore, the experience that Mondimpresa is starting to acquire through the granting, to economic agents in some Balkan countries like Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, of credit lines made available by the Italian government for the purchase of Italian investment goods, that is, machinery and related services. This project is coordinated by the intergovernmental international organisation International Management Group (IMG) and jointly developed by consultancy structures composed of Mondimpresa, SIMEST and Intesa Formazione. Also in this case the chambers represent the principal vehicle for accessing such an interesting opportunity. I wish that, thanks to the contribution by Mondimpresa, which has been operating at its Bruxelles office for more than 15 years, as well as the experience acquired in project planning and management inside extremely active networks, like Euro Info Centres, the Chambers of Commerce may confirm their role as territorial points of reference for the development of EU policies and programmes in this strategic region.