Modern European challenges are becoming closer to sustainability: no wonder, the EU Baltic Sea regional forum’s 10-year jubilee takes circular and sharing economy issues as its main agenda. They have already become an integral part in some EU states’ governing aspects. Besides, ideas of “reduce, reuse and rethink” (the so-called “4T” issues) would be of interest too…
The EUSBSR forum will take place in Gdansk, Poland during 12-13 June. In the welcoming address to the 10th jubilee Forum, Mieczysław Struk, Marshal of the Pomorskie Voivodeship underlined that both the organizers and the participants would not only finalise the main strategy’s achievements but also “pave the way for smarter, more efficient and better coordinated actions aiming at prosperous future for the Baltic Sea Region”. And this future is closely connected to the states around the Baltic Sea involvement in sustainability.
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSBSR was endorsed by the European Council in October 2009 in response to key challenges facing the region, which countries on their own could not efficiently resolve. The strategy provides for a focused macro-regional framework for improving cooperation around three main objectives: “saving the sea”, i.e. protection ecological and environmental condition of the Baltic Sea; “connect the region”, i.e. mainly through energy and transport cooperation; and “increase prosperity”, i.e. through cooperation in health, innovation, education, culture, tourism, etc. The states-participants of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region are: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany (with five northern regions), Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, as well as Norway.
Jointly-agreed strategy’s action plan includes a number of policy areas and horizontal actions accompanied by concrete flagships and clearly identified targets.
The Strategy helps to mobilise all relevant EU funding and policies and coordinate the actions of the EU countries, regions, pan-Baltic organisations, financing institutions and non-governmental bodies to promote a more balanced development of the Baltic Sea Region.
During a decade, the member states intensely worked on about 15 priority areas and 80 concrete “flagship projects” within four main sectors: environment, prosperity, accessibility, as well as safety and security.
Besides, there is also a so-called “Northern Dimension”, a common EU policy involving the EU states, Russia, Norway and Iceland in providing external cooperation in the Strategy.
Hence, the main achievements for a decade include:
Support for new projects: e.g. in cooperation with member states’ farmers to reduce Baltic Sea’s eutrophication and improved planning for transport infrastructure;
Greater involvement of regional states (including non-EU countries) in such priority areas as environmental protection, water quality, research and innovation;
Improved cooperation between and among regions and other partners, including private, public sectors and civil society.
On European macro-regional cooperation
European macro-regional strategy is a policy framework which allows countries located in the same region to jointly tackle and find solutions to problems or to better use the potential they have in common (e.g. pollution, navigability, worldwide business competition, innovation, etc.). By doing so, they benefit from strengthened cooperation by making their policies more efficient than if they had addressed these issues in isolation.
Presently, there are four EU macro-regional strategies (each is accompanied by an action plan regularly updated) facing emerging needs and challenges: for the Baltic Sea region, the EUSBSR in 2009, for the Danube Region (2010), for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (2014), and the strategy for the Alpine Region in 2015.
The EU macro-regional strategies are supported by EU funds, including the Regional and European Structural and Investment funds.
For the first time in a decade the EUSBSR is dealing with the sustainability issues: the 10-year-jubilee main topic is “Circular and sharing economy as an answer to demographic changes and environmental challenges in the Baltic Sea Region.”
Participants will have the opportunity to attend several seminars dealing with such urgent issues as circular and “sharing “ economy in the Baltic Sea region, i.e. in such areas as health, food, tourism, transport, cities, bioeconomy, industry, education, migrants, labour market and demography.
Among forum’s participants are members of the European Commission, Polish Prime Minister M. Morawiecki, ministers from the member states (incl. R. Nemiro, Latvian Economy Minister), hundreds of experts and specialists.
EUSBSR’s effect for the Baltic States and Latvia
The Strategy does not have a separate title in the EU budget; however the EU financing is coming from the EU regional policy, other EU programs, as well as international financial institutions. More information on funding may be found at the EUSBSR website.
Financial support for Latvia: during 2007-13 –about €4 bn and during 2014-20 – €4,3 bn; a little bit less was allocated for Estonia and almost double so much for Lithuania.