First Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region
Between 14-15th October 2010 in Tallin, Estonia, the European Commission organised the first Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The Forum was opened by Mr Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia, who emphasised the fact that the Strategy was the first one to have originated from a democratically elected EU institution, the European Parliament.
Other opening speeches were delivered by Ms Mercedes Bresso, President of the Committee of the Regions, and Mr Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy. Ms Bresso urged all stakeholders to maintain the political momentum in order to ensure further successful implementation of Strategy. She also stated that the Baltic Sea Strategy could serve as a role model for other macro-regional strategies within the EU. Mr Hahn in turn pointed to the regional aspect of the Strategy in which local and regional actors are effectively targeting the most important regional concerns such as environmental protection, transport, research and innovation. In his view, the Strategy also brought a significant added value of inclusive political leadership and governance.
The Forum gathered around 500 representatives from various organisations involved in the Baltic Sea cooperation. The programme included the presentation of the first draft implementation report, which would be later presented by the European Commission, as well as updates on the various Priority Areas specified in the Strategy. The report contains information about new projects initiated to better implement the Action Plan of the Strategy. It urges all stakeholders, especially from local and regional authorities, to keep the political momentum which is vital for a successful implementation of the Strategy. It also elaborates on the lessons learned after first eight months of the implementation process, and specifies next steps to be taken in the future.