The study committed by the EC "Exploring the potential of Maritime Spatial Planning in the Mediterranean Sea" (Final Report, February 2011) identified the Adriatic Sea basin (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia and Montenegro) as one of the four areas having more potential for the application of cross-border/international MSP.
More than any other geographical context, Adriatic and Ionian basin and the community of countries on these seas have been targeted during the centuries by a process of fragmentation and conflicts. However the geopolitical context of the Adriatic-Ionian region changed a lot in the last years thanks also to the European integration process. Greece, Italy and Slovenia are members of the EU, Croatia will join the EU on 1st July 2013 and aII other eastern coastal countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro) are also moving toward EU membership, with varying timeframes and methods.
On 14 December 2012, the European Council gave mandate to the Commission for the presentation "of a new EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region before the end of 2014" (EUCO 205/12). The proposal to set up a Macroregion in the Adriatic-Ionian area
has the objective to accompany the accession of the Western Balkan candidate and pre-candidate countries in the EU and to facilitate consensus building on topics of common interest between territorial realities of Member States.
The Communication on "A Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas" (COM(2012) 713 final) constitutes the maritime components of such EU macro-regional strategy and has the objective to focus IMP on the needs and potential of the Adriatic and Ionian marine and coastal areas. The strategy identify MSP and ICZM as priority issues to develop: “Developing MSP and ICZM at both at national and cross-border level, on the basis of the eco-system approach and making the best use of results of key EU research projects on marine protected areas.” Four pillars, to be reconciled in the ICZM/MSP effort, are identified for a smart, sustainable, inclusive growth: maximizing the potential of the blue economy; move toward a healthier marine environment; act for a safer and more secure maritime space; promote sustainable and responsible fishing activities.
The Action Plan to be developed to concretely implement the strategy will also aim at identifying which priority investments could be funded under the 2014-2020 structural budget envelope and which knowledge gaps could be filled by research within the Horizon 2020 initiative. In addition to the Adriatic-Ionian Strategy there are a number of other cross-border/international initiatives having an impact on ICZM and MSP and involving national, regional and local authorities: the Adriatic Ionian Euroregion that includes transnational and interregional cooperation between regions of the Adriatic and Ionian coastline; the Adriatic Ionian Initiative (AII) that links the coastal countries of the Adriatic and Ionian seas for the purpose of cooperation in the development and safety of the whole area; the three fora linked to the AII (Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce, the Network of Universities- UniAdrion, Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Cities & Towns); the Adriatic Protected Areas Network (AdriaPAN), the North Adriatic Ports Association (NAPA).