Central Europe: European Neighbourhoods: potential at the peripheries

Europe’s Neighbourhoods, ranging from the Arctic to the Sahara and covering the European countries of the Western Balkans, present opportunities but also challenges. The area includes very large and small states, with very different levels of development as well as diverse cultures. Geography dictates some level of interdependence with Europe, and hence opportunities to strengthen relations and work together. Europe is by no means the sole focus for these countries. At the same time relations with the Neighbourhoods are crucial for Europe – not only from a geopolitical standpoint, but also in terms of energy security, transport infrastructure or climate change. The important role of European Neighbourhoods also results from their demographic potential of 504 million inhabitants, very similar to the EU 507 million. Co-operation with Neighbourhoods is especially important for Central and Eastern Europe, not only due to geographic factors but also economic, cultural and historical relations, minorities and migrations. Central European countries play a crucial role in co-operation with Neighbourhoods, including their association and integration with the EU. ESPON results provide evidence needed by policy makers and practitioners in both Europe and in the Neighbourhoods to foster territorial cohesion and improve co-operation.

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