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European Union approaches to fostering synergies of cooperation and integration around the Black Sea

2008-06-01
Gultekin-Punsmann, Burcu
Nikolov, Krassimir Y.
Following the European Union's (EU) eastern enlargement and debates on the Constitutional Treaty, the Black Sea region has received increasing political, public and scholarly attention. This article examines the prospects for and the forms of economic and political cooperation in the area from the perspective of the EU as well as of the local actors. The macroeconomic situation in the region is analysed as a major factor for commercial and economic cooperation. The complex network of existing trade agreements is set in the context of national trade policies and the common commercial policy of the EU. Special attention is given to EU support for trade liberalization and regional economic integration around the Black Sea. Two specific facets of regional cooperation are considered: the initiative of creating a Black Sea Euro-region, and the modalities of inter-parliamentary cooperation. The institutional and political formats of regional cooperation are studied from an evolutionary perspective. The EU's gradual opening to multilateralism in the Black Sea area has faced the dilemnia of choosing between two models of EU involvement in the region 'political umbrella', and EU-Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) interinstitutional relationship. Both models having been tested over the last couple of years, their strengths and weaknesses have prompted the possible emergence of a new fon-nat of regional cooperation based on a 'network of networks'.