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The „Balkan-Mediterranean“ 2014-2020 is a new cooperation programme which capitalizes on previous experience but provides more structured tool for strengthening the cooperation in the areas of the Balkan Peninsula and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. By mobilizing the joint efforts across maritime and terrestrial borders of these regions, the Programme aims to contribute to the “EU 2020”strategy, for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth 

The Programme brings together five (5) countries, three (3) EU member states (Bulgaria, Cyprus and Greece) and two (2) candidate countries, Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The results of the territorial analysis and the public consultation processes made during the programme conceptualization indicated that the target area`s main needs and challenges shared by the programme actors, fall within the following headings: socioeconomic development and demography, environment and climate change, natural and cultural heritage. Due to the funding limitations and in response of the regulatory requirements, the Programme prioritized just some of the identified challenges, but believes that the promoted strong thematic focus and the adopted holistic approach will provide the maximum territorial impact and add value through generating effects over the other challenges.

The Balkan-Mediterranean Programme aims to address the area`s two key challenges: competitiveness and environment and therefore, the programme is built upon the following two priority axes:

Entrepreneurship and innovation are powerful drivers of economic growth. As the programme area suffers from markets’ fragmentation, high unemployment and limited labour force skills, “Priority Axis 1” is dedicated to actions that foster the area’s entrepreneurship potential by encouraging SMEs’ cooperation and networking, clusters and clusters policies, new business models’ applications and in particular the ones promoting innovation, opens up new markets and supports internationalisation.

The following “Specific Objectives” (SO) are established to better focus on the above-mentioned topics:

 SO 1.1: Competitive territories

 SO 1.2: Innovative territories

 SO 1.3: Territories of knowledge

The first “Specific Objective” (SO 1.1) promotes entrepreneurship on the basis of new ideas and new types of business models, while the second “Specific Objective” (SO 1.2) goes one step forward by facilitating the SMEs’ adjustment to the changing socioeconomic and policy/regulatory circumstances. The aim is to reach a maximum territorial impact on competitiveness, through internal spill over and leverage effects on knowledge and technology transfer, as education and training will enable entrepreneurs to acquire the necessary skills/tools and enhance the SMEs’ capacity, boost their competitiveness, grow towards other markets and introduce innovation in all phases of their business cycle.

A sole thematic focus on SMEs support with no investment in their respective human capital will jeopardize expected results, as monitoring and management are performed by the entrepreneurs. Therefore, a third “Specific Objective” (SO 1.3) is established for transnational training schemes that can provide a powerful platform to address entrepreneurship skills. SO 1.3, along with the SMEs’ thematic support planned by “SO 1.1” and “SO 1.2” ensures an integrated, structured and inclusive approach to effectively address territorial competitiveness and skills’ gaps, overcome markets’ fragmentation and foster business environment that could further unleash untapped cooperation potential.

Environment related issues emerged as the main challenge for sustainability and growth which needs to be immediately addressed. Therefore, the “Priority Axis 2” of the “Balkan‐Mediterranean 2014‐2020” transnational cooperation programme is built upon natural/cultural heritage and resources’ efficiency.

The “Priority Axis 2” is further streamlined in two thematic “Specific Objectives” focusing on the one hand in natural ecosystems’ management (SO 2.1) and on the other hand in efficient resources’ management of the waste sector, the soil and the water sector (SO 2.2):

 SO 1: Biodiversity

 SO2: Sustainable territories

 SO3: Delivery on environmental legal frameworks

The “Priority Axis 2” also foresees to bridge the skills’ gap by implementing the missing training facilities, for public authorities and stakeholders in particular, in order to improve delivery on environmental legislation monitoring and governance. Consequently, the two thematic “Specific Objectives” (SO 2.1 and SO 2.2) are combined with a third one, the “SO 2.3” aiming to improve transnational governance capacities on environmental legal framework.

It is a holistic and integrated approach targeting both the ecosystems’ sustainable use and the delivery on environmental legislation and governance.

Find out more about the Balkan-Mediterranean Programme on its official web-site