DSC00426 (2)The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General responsible for enlargement organized a closed event on ‘Enhancing cross-border economic co-operation between Greece and its neighbours’ which was held in Athens at Electra Palace Hotel on the 28th of November 2014.

Representatives of the Greek ministries, the embassies of the Balkan countries, think tanks, NGOs, consulting companies, Greek partners of the cross-border programmes as well as postgraduate students participated in this event.

Mr Hadjisavvas, Programme Officer of the Managing Authority of European Territorial Cooperation Programmes in Greece, referred to the factors that encourage the European territorial cooperation and noted that the Cross-border component of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) serves both the goals of the European territorial cooperation and of the EU enlargement policy. He also presented the results and the experience gained by the implementation of two IPA cross-border programmes, “Greece-Albania” and “Greece-FYROM” and he underlined their contribution to the enhancement of the cross-border cooperation and the closer proximity among the involved regions. He closed his presentation by highlighting the difficulties and the challenges of implementation of these programmes.

Mrs Syrri, Advisor of the Political department of the Regional Cooperation Council, underlined the role of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) in promoting and strengthening regional cooperation in South East Europe. She, also, referred to the efforts that both RCC participants from the region and the EU invest in maintaining the momentum of the EU enlargement policy and making progress in the EU accession process. More specifically, she presented the goals and the main pillars of the South East Europe 2020 Strategy, which assist governments in the region to implement their individual development strategies, including EU accession related goals, by enhancing national efforts through focused regional cooperation.

Ms Panagiotou, Senior Research Fellow of the Centre for Planning & Economic Research focused on the new dynamics of economic relations between Greece and the Balkan countries, by presenting specific indicators regarding the banking sector, the trade and the investments. She underlined that the economic relations of Greece with its Balkan partners were mutually beneficial and she focused on the radical changes in these relations caused by the Greek economic crisis and its extremely negative impact on the Balkan economies.

The discussion and the questions of the audience focused on the concrete results and the shortcomings of these programmes, their contribution to strengthening regional cooperation and the prospects for future cooperation between Greece and the Balkan countries.