Euroregion Baltic and EU Strategy for Baltic Sea Region

The role of local and regional authorities was the subject of the seminar during Almedalsveckan on Gotland on 29th June 2009, organised by the regions of Blekinge, Kalmar and Södra Småland together with the SIDA unit on Gotland.
More than 50 people participated in the seminar with contributions from inter alia Mr Anders Lindholm (DG Regio), Mr Olle Schmidt (Swedish MEP), Mr Uno Aldegren from the EU Committee of Regions and several other representatives.
Euroregion Baltic was represented by the leader of the ERB Youth Board, Ms Cajsa Augustzén, who in her speech activated the audiences asking them to come up with concrete proposals on how to involve the youth in the implementation of the Strategy.
Also Mr Niels Chresten Andersen from Bornholm represented ERB, having a short speech on the role of cross border organisations.
He made it clear that Euroregion Baltic fully supports the initiative to have an EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region with the four proposed thematic areas, fifteen recommended priorities and so far seventy-eight examples of flagship projects included in the document. Euroregion Baltic has since January 2008 been taking active part in the preparations and consultations during the drafting of the Strategy and has worked closely together with five other Baltic Sea organisations – and has experienced a very positive approach from the European Commission as well as governments and other key actors.

Niels Ch. Andersen nevertheless made 3 reservations to the launched Strategy and the Action Plan:

  1. It is very unclear what should become the role of euroregions and similar cross border cooperation structures, most of them based on formal and permanent agreements referring to the Madrid Convention from May 1980 on transfrontier cooperation,
  2. Selection of lead partners of the different flagship projects lacks transparency, objective selection criteria and an open selection procedure, to which all relevant stakeholders can apply,
  3. The financial aspect of the implementation of the Strategy does not look convincing, as the financial implementation fully depends on existing programmes. This means a risk of transnational selection criteria in programmes which are not transnational per se.

He, on behalf of ERB, therefore strongly recommended

  1. more clear description of the role of euroregions in the implementation of the Strategy,
  2. more open and transparent selection of flagship lead partners, and
  3. ensuring that transnational projects will be financed by transnational programmes. As for other EU programmes there will still be a room for them to support the implementation of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy, but it should not be based on inclusion of transnationally based selection criteria.