Blue economy. A concept that has gained plenty of traction in the recent past and has become a priority for various marine regions. The blue economy refers to the economy around ocean and maritime activities, and the sustainable use of the maritime resources to ensure the sustainability of said activities. Improving the ways humans interact with the marine environment to foster growth, not only economically but in the quality of livelihoods of those directly or indirectly involved, entails finding ways in which to enhance the preservation of a healthy environment, thus enabling its long-term use.

AETS was recently awarded the EASME/DG Mare-funded contract, “Assistance Mechanism for the Black Sea”. The two-year contract (renewable by a further two years), adds on to AETS’ ongoing and considerable experience in the area of maritime policy and affairs, overseen by its Governance and Human Development department. The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), under the powers delegated by the European Commission, launched this sea basin-based initiative to contribute to the effective implementation of the Common Maritime Agenda (CMA) for the Black Sea, an agreement between the seven Black Sea coastal countries back in May 2019. The CMA has three main goals, to promote healthy marine and coastal ecosystems; a competitive, innovative and sustainable blue economy; and to foster investment.

The assistance mechanism set up in the scope of this contract will be tasked with supporting the implementation of the CMA, through assistance and support to the Black Sea steering group, its members, the rotating CMA steering group coordinator, the national CMA focal points, the European Commission and the broader stakeholder community. Additionally, the assistance mechanism will be directly involved in assisting with the implementation of the CMA priorities at national level, in the seven Black Sea coastal countries, namely: Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Moldova. This support and expertise will be given to national CMA coordinators, as well as other public authorities and will be complementary to the promotion of stakeholder dialogue that it will also be tasked with.

The agreement of the CMA has meant that now over 95% of the EU coastlines are covered by sea basin-based activities, demonstrating the value placed on blue economy.