Euroregion Baltic Seminar on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

On 7th October 2009, in the Regional Office of Pomorskie Region in Brussels, a Euroregion Baltic seminar took place with the participation of Euroregion Baltic Executive Board, representatives of the BSSSC, UBS and Baltic 7 Islands, as well as invited guests representing Polish Permanent Representation to the EU, European Offices of London, Highlands & Islands, Pomorskie, South Sweden, Turku-Southwest Finland and Warmińsko-Mazurskie regions, as well as member regions of Euroregion Baltic. The seminar investigated possible ways for the regions of Europe to strengthen the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

The participants looked for answers to some of the key questions regarding the implementation of the Strategy and possible continuation of the cooperation between the six organisations which launched a common position towards the Strategy last year (these organisations being BDF, BSSSC, B7, CPMR Baltic Sea Commission, UBC and Euroregion Baltic).

Is the cooperation between the organisations on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region necessary and possible?

Yes. Based on the so far positive experience of the cooperation, the representatives of the organisations thought it necessary that their joint efforts are continued in the future.

Should the cooperation be formalised and a joint structure established to facilitate the cooperation?

An open formula of the cooperation was suggested instead of establishing any formal body of representatives dealing with the issues related to the Strategy. It was also stressed that the Strategy should remain the key objective of the cooperation.

What could be specific areas for the organisations to focus on in relation to the Strategy?

Firstly, efforts to guarantee the participation of representatives of the territorial governments at the local and regional level in the High Level Group of Member State representatives that the European Commission is about to set up in order to monitor the implementation of the Strategy. So far, no local or regional authorities are mentioned in the Group composition. Another idea could be to propose one representative of the organisations into the Group.

Secondly, the organisations should continue to promote the governance model which includes the levels of European Commission, Member States, local and regional authorities, and non-governmental organisations providing a wider perspective involving local communities, and creates a horizontal platform for political cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region.

Thirdly, in the dialogue with the national authorities the organisations will need political support from their member regions, counties, cities and towns, which will strengthen their voice and representativeness.

Fourthly the organisations expressed their concerns about the lack of specific budget line for the Strategy, which could hamper its effective implementation. Hopes were evident that a pool of specially earmarked resources will be available in the new programming period.

Fifthly, the six organisations believe that strengthening of the macro-regional aspect of the cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region should not be made at the expense of existing cross-border and inter-regional programmes. Local and regional actors must be able to continue to make use of these instruments in the new financial perspective.

Sixthly, the organisations will each implement their preferred flagship projects, and no joint project will be implemented by all the six entities.