In this month's European column, Jean-François Drevet examines the issues that arise for Europe from the Black Sea region. The Black Sea is increasingly becoming a crucial place of transit for hydrocarbon imports from the Caspian and Russia into the European Union. The considerable increase in this traffic raises both environmental problems (the risk of oil slicks) and issues of security of supply, on account of the economic and political fragility of some of the bordering or neighbouring states (Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia/Chechnya etc.). This is why, as Jean-François Drevet stresses, the European Union has been trying since the mid-1990s to claim a role in the management of the affairs of the region. With two bordering states (Rumania and Bulgaria) joining the EU in 2007, cooperation in the Black Sea has become a priority within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy, and this column delineates a number of the obstacles that still have to be surmounted.
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