Joint Declaration of the 10th Trilateral Meeting of the FMs of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania

Joint Declaration of the 10th Trilateral Meeting of the FMs of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania

Bucharest, Romania, 12th of March 2018

We, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria,the Hellenic Republic and Romania, met in Bucharest on 12 of March 2018, for the tenth meeting of this trilateral format,

  • Acknowledging the excellent level of relations between the Republic of Bulgaria, the Hellenic Republic and Romania, as EU Member States and NATO Allies,
  • Stressing our countries’ firm support for a stronger, consolidated, cohesive and prosperous European Union, in line with the principles of the Rome Declaration adopted on 25th of March 2017,
  • Upholding the principles, values and objectives of the EU and NATO, reconfirmed in the European Global Security Strategy and the NATO Strategic Concept,
  • Underlining the key importance of our neighbouring regions for the security and stability in Europe and acknowledging that a safe, peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood of our countries is of direct interest for the European and the Euro-Atlantic area as a whole,
  • Welcoming the new impetus given to the enlargement process with the Commission’s Communication on “A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans”, issued on the 6th of February 2018, in line with President Juncker’s State of the Union address of 27 September 207 on Western Balkans and with the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU,
  • Confirming our determination to further reinforce the positive momentum in the bilateral and regional cooperation by developing and enhancing our relationships in all fields of mutual interest for the benefit of the peoples of the three countries,

Have agreed the following:

On the Western Balkans:

  • We reiterate our longstanding belief that EU enlargementis key for promoting stability and prosperity in our region, as stated in the European Commission’s CommunicationA credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans. Our countries will stay strongly engaged in consolidating the dynamics of the enlargement policy at European level.
  • Our countries continue to support the EU enlargement process in line with the Treaties and under the agreed accession criteria. We recognize that upholding the need for fair and rigorous conditionality and the own merits’approach as key principles of the Enlargement policy is essential in preserving the credibility of the process.
  • We express our strong commitment to keeping the door open to those European countries that respect our values and are committed to promoting them.We will continue sharing with interested acceding States our relevant experience from the EU accession process.We will support relevant projects that contribute to the region’s, security, prosperity and connectivity, also with the rest of the EU.
  • We support our partners from the region in their work for societal transformation, resilience and modernization in areas of common interest presented in theEuropean Commission’s Communication: strengthening the rule of law, security and migration issues, economic and social development, connectivity in transport and energy, digital agenda, reconciliation and good neighbourly relations.Our three states pledge to support relevant projects in these areas.
  • The full respect of the international law, including the Law of the Sea, which is part of the acquis, the inviolability of borders and the peaceful resolution of conflicts are principles of paramount significance. Good neighbourly relations, inclusive regional cooperation and reconciliation remain central prerequisites for strengthening the resilience and consolidating the European perspective.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the NATO Open Door Policy, a founding principle of the Washington Treaty and one of the Alliance’s great successes. We remain fully committed to the integration of those countries that aspire to join NATO, assessing each one on its own merits and according to NATO’s decisions. We encourage those partners who aspire to join the Alliance to implement the necessary reforms and decisions to prepare for membership.
  • We underscore the role of the South-East European Cooperation Process, as the main political forum of the region with clear regional ownership, in supporting the European and Euro-Atlantic integration processes of the whole region and we will continue to encourage EU’s stronger involvement in our region also through other appropriate and inclusive formats for regional cooperation.

Eastern Neighbourhood

  • Engagement with EU’s most committed Eastern partners remains our strategic objective. Our interest is to have a stable, secure and prosperous Eastern neighbourhood. To this effect, it is important to connect the Eastern Partnership countries with the EU by strong ties in all areas. To this end, we will actively contribute to the implementation of the action plan we have commonly agreed at the EaP Summit held in November 2017, through the 20 deliverables for 2020. A swift and thorough implementation of the Association Agreements remains key for our closest partners’ relations with the EU.

 On energy:

  • Тhe energy security both at European and regional levels, including through diversification of supply sources and routes should be further strengthened, since these continue to represent major priorities for our countries and for the European Union.
  • We advocate for the energy security objectives to be properly subsumed to the need to preserve coherence and compliance with the principles already agreed at European level and with those reflected in the fundamental treaties, as the need to preserve Member States’ right to decide upon their national energy mix.
  • We reiterate our support for the gradual development of the Energy Union, strengthening the role of the energy policy within the context of the overall economic development and energy sustainabilityof the EU and our region.
  • We commit to the joint efforts for the diversification of energy supply routes and sources towards the timely development of commonly agreed priority gas infrastructure projects within the Central and South-Eastern Gas Connectivity (CESEC) framework.
  • We support the implementation of the Vertical Gas Corridor/VGC, the BG-RO-HU-AT/BRUA initiatives that are compliant with CESEC objectives regarding the integration of the European Union internal energy market, while enabling a bidirectional gasflowin South East Europe.
  • We appreciate the progress reached so far and commit to the accomplishment of EU Projects of Common Interest (such as BRUA, IGB).These Interconnections between Greece and Bulgaria and Bulgaria and Romania will not only further enhance bilateral cooperation between our countries, but will also contribute as key energy infrastructure projects to an integrated EU energy market, thus fulfilling the EU’s energy policy objectives of affordable, secure and sustainable energy.
  • We will promote gas infrastructure development convergence in the region based on a diversified array of sources, be it Greek LNG capacities, Southern Gas Corridor resources or Black Sea off-shore reserves.
  • These projects are instrumental for the establishment of a regional gas hub. The three states confirm their interest to assess the feasibility of such a project, which will contribute to security of supply and diversification of gas routes and sources in the Balkans and South Eastern Europe.[proposed compromise language following BG recommendations]
  • We welcome the extension of the CESEC framework to the electricity sector, to include energy efficiency and renewable sources, as decided at the latest ministerial meeting hosted by Romania, in September 2017.
  • We invite the exchange of information and the sharing of best practices at the level of line ministries and encourage the respective National Transmission Operators (TSOs) to further enhance their cooperation to jointly identify and pursue energy projects, which will contribute to the overall energy connectivity in our region.

On security and defence:

  • In today’s complex security environment, we reiterate our support for consolidating the role of the EU in the area of security and defence, based on the principles of solidarity, inclusiveness and cohesion among Member States, in line with theEU Global Strategy and its level of ambition. At the same timeour countries will continue to contribute actively to strengthening NATO’s deterrence and collective defence and to the Allied efforts to project stability.
  • Since the presentation of the EU Global Strategy in June 2016 a lot has been achieved in the field of security and defence. A joint EU-NATO Declaration was signed, new instruments and tools for more defence cooperation among EU Member States were created and existing legal frameworks were activated. In this respect, we welcome the signing of PESCO and we are looking forward to its swift implementation. It is an opportunity to work together, innovate, create jobs, support our economies and provide the most technologically advanced capabilities to our armies.
  • Today, theEuro-Atlantic community is faced with unprecedented challenges emanating from the South and East. Therefore, a coherent and effective coordination between NATO and the EU is a must, taking into account the different nature, decision making autonomy and complementarity of the two organizations in full respect of the principles of transparency, inclusiveness and reciprocity. Maintaining a strong transatlantic bond is needed to showcase that both organizations remain capable of developing new common answers to all common challenges and threats.
  • NATO should remain readyto address all threats and challenges, irrespective of their geographical origin, based on the principle of indivisibility of the Allies’ security as well as NATO
  • Enhancing NATO’s presence in the Black Sea region is a clear demonstration of Allied solidarity and determination to defend NATO territory against any possible aggression.In this context, we support the full implementation of the allied decisions related in Black Sea region, especially those related to the forward presence, and a coherent NATO approach towards the entire Eastern flank.
  • At the same time, NATO’s participation in the international efforts concerning the refugee and migrant crisis is a positive step. NATO’s activity in the Aegean Sea has helped saving lives, curbing illegal and dangerous human trafficking and disrupting the business model of the human traffic in the Aegean Sea, having also a deterrent effect.[proposed compromise language following EL recommendations].
  • Last but not least, we are committed to enhance the Alliance understanding and preparedness to address the multifaceted security challenges from state and non-state actors in NATO’s adjacent regions in the South which can reasonably be expected to persist for the foreseeable future. In this respect, the decision to create a new Regional Hub for the South, based at NATO’s Joint Force Command in Naples, is a positive development.

On the Schengen area:

  • In Rome, together with the other EU Members States, we also pledged to work towards a safe and secure Europe where all citizens feel safe and can move freely. Our countries are committed to the preservation and the full functionality of the Schengen area, as one of the major achievements of European integration. We reiterate the importance of the accession to the Schengen area of Romania and Bulgaria taking into account that both countries have already met all accession criteria and have successfully finalised all necessary Schengen evaluation since many years ago.
  • We acknowledge that a full Schengen membership of Romania and Bulgaria would bring an important added-value to enhancing the control over the EU external borders and the internal security of the EU including preventing irregular migration, fighting human trafficking and terrorism. Until the objective of accession is reached, we fully support that the measures promoted at EU level in this area ensure a unitary Schengen-non-Schengen approach, also involving these two Member States in the implementation of the new security tools and reiterate that a short-term solution should be found, allowing reciprocal sharing of information between Schengen States, non-Schengen States and Member States who are partially using the Schengen acquis instruments, as envisaged in the Roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management including interoperability solutions in the Justice and Home Affairs area.

On the future of the EU:

  • We are committed to a safe and secure, prosperous and competitive, sustainable and socially responsible Union with the capacity of playing a key role in the world to the benefit of the Member States and their citizens. Guided by these objectives, we will continue to promote a sound European identity, grounded in the respect of the EU fundamental principles and values such as peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We stress the importance of promoting European solutions and policies with added value for us all, such as the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agriculture Policy, the enlargement process and the nexus between the internal and external security. Our countries support the development of a prosperous and sustainable Europe that opens avenues for growth, cohesion, competitiveness, convergence and innovation. The future EU budget has to reflect these ambitious goals, which are essential for the European project and a level playing field for all EU citizens.
  • The Cohesion Policy and the Common Agriculture Policy should remain important pillars of the European budget architecture and we plead for keeping an appropriate level of financial allocations in order to ensure that EU priorities are reached in a sustainable and result-oriented manner. The objectives of these policies are deeply rooted in the fundamentals of the European integration as stipulated in the EU Treaties and should continue to promote and support an overall balanced development across the European Union. Our countries agree on the major benefits of these policies for the EU citizens and we commit to communicate better on their indisputable results. [RO and BG insist on keeping this phrase. Invite EL to justify why it was erased. ]
  • In order to meet the objectives of the Treaty and to adapt to new realities, the Cohesion Policy needs to be part and parcel of the post-2020 European budget with necessary funding. The important increase of economic and social inequalities as a result of the economic and financial crisis is an additional factor to that need. An adapted Cohesion Policy should remain at the heart of the post 2020 MFF.
  • As regards the Common Agricultural Policy, we support the strategic importance of developing sustainable agriculture by allocating, in a fair and stable manner, adequate financial resources in support of the European agricultural sector becoming more innovative, simpler and efficient in addressing the challenges of tomorrow.
  • Our countries support the development of a prosperous and sustainable Europe that opens avenues for growth, cohesion, competitiveness, convergence and innovation. The future EU budget should reflect also these ambitious goals, which are essential in further deepening the European project and ensuring development and prosperity for all EU citizens.
  • Strengthening the social dimension of Europe and, particularly, fighting unemployment, especially long term and youth unemployment, are political priorities for us.
  • We agree on the need to promote sustainable growth and employment, to preserve and further develop our social models and to increase social welfare, while acknowledging that social welfare throughout the Union can only be built upon a fully functional Internal Market, where all rules are respected and not diluted by unjustified national protectionist measures.
  • We pledge for an Internal Market where fundamental rights and freedoms are applied in a fair, uniform and equal manner and where economic and social convergence guides our actions at both national and European level. We need to go beyond rhetoric and pursue tangible results, while giving proper consideration to the need to avoid fragmentation and new division lines among Member States. Our countries stand ready to support measures that will preserve and promote improved social welfare for all EU citizens.
  • Guided by these principles, we reiterate the key value of an inclusive and efficient cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic area, particularly in these times when joint efforts are required to find the appropriate solutions to the unprecedented challenges that affect us all.
  • The Bulgarian and Romanian Presidencies of the Council of the European Union in 2018 and 2019 respectively will help bring these endeavours to the European agenda and boost “the regional voice” in Brussels and Europe by raising awareness and shaping a more accurate perception of our region.

Follow –up:

  • Agree to pursue our cooperation in this format, view to its eleventh meeting in Greece;
  • Invite our ministers in charge of European affairs to further increase trilateral cooperation and dialogue on European affairs of common interest…./IBNA