Euroregion Baltic (ERB) Youth Strategy presented during the Executive Board Meeting in Klaipeda, Lithuania

Youth is often defined as the age group from 16 until around 30-34. It can be a time of great opportunities and challenges when people prepare for the responsibilities ahead, including their livelihood, family obligations, and productive engagement with their communities.

Overview of the Euroregion Baltic Youth Strategy

The Euroregion Baltic Youth Strategy was created by Mr Przemyslaw Kulawczuk, Mr Andrzej Poszewiecki and Ms Elzbieta Kolasinka in cooperation with Mr Damian Ciachorowski and the ERB Youth Board and in accordance with research done within the scope of the CaSYPoT project. It was presented by Ms Agata Ludwiczak of Euroregion Baltic International Permanent Secretariat during the ERB Executive and Youth Board meetings in Klaipeda, Lithuania on the 13th and 14th of February respectively. The Youth Strategy’s focus is on recommending measures that will foster collaboration between the countries of the Euroregion Baltic. This aims to tackle the issues of youth migration and regional depopulation as well as the resulting social and economic challenges.

The Euroregion Baltic and its challenges

These issues are shared to a different extent by each of the countries and administrative regions which constitute the Euroregion Baltic. The regions included are Bornholm (Denmark), Kalmar, Kronoberg, Blekinge, Skåne (Sweden), Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, Pomorskie (Poland), Klaipeda (Lithuania) as well as the Kaliningrad region of Russia. Relevant studies illustrate the dramatic results of regional abandonment which are especially pronounced in Poland and Lithuania and less noticeable in Sweden and Denmark.
Unfortunately, it appears that many provinces in the Baltic region are currently in a cycle of limited opportunities, outbound immigration and social and economic abandonment. The youth who are the future of their regions are particularly affected by this. In each region-member of the Euroregion Baltic, high percentages of young people have to deal with unemployment, lack of options in higher education and limited chances of self-realization. The result of this is that the majority want to move to a larger municipality or city.
Currently, each of the regions of the Euroregion Baltic has its own youth policy trying to deal with these issues. Cooperation and sharing experience between the regions are very limited. However, if more cross-border initiatives and collaboration were to be established, that could make the regions more attractive to their youth and create more opportunities.

The new Euroregion Baltic’s Youth Strategy proposal

Euroregion Baltic’s Youth Strategy is focused on understanding the young people’s needs and helping to communicate them. The three main strategic objectives of the new Youth Strategy are : connecting the youth through the promotion of mobility, engaging through development and empowering through the building of identity. First, with an increased mobility it becomes easier for young people to connect across the Baltic Sea and beyond in order to gain work experience, make connections and cooperate with other young people and adult experts. Second, the promotion of development supports the youth by fostering quality, innovation and sustainable development in cities and regions. Finally, by focusing on building identity, the Euroregion Baltic can strengthen the relations between its young people and foster future cooperation and common understanding.
A positive element of the strategy is that it includes in its creation young people alongside politicians, authorities, experts and universities. This will not only help in the implementation of the strategy by the local government but also ensure its success which is directly linked to the youth participation in it.

Euroregion Baltic has several tools in its disposal with which to achieve these objectives like employment mobility, youth information, Students’ Council, Youth Centers, media, school’s first job and many others.

Now it only remains to see which of these can be adopted and put into action on local level!

By IVY Theodora Chatzipanteli

Euroregion Baltic Executive Board Meeting (13th – 14th February 2019)

The Euroregion Baltic Executive Board and the Youth Board meetings transpired in Radisson Blue Hotel in Klaipeda, Lithuania from 13-14th February 2019!

On 13th February, the Euroregion Baltic Executive Board meeting took place. Some of its highlights included: the presentation of the Skåne Association of Local Authorities-from Sweden-as the new ERB member, the transfer of the ERB Presidency from Denmark to Lithuania, the approval of the new Head of the Euroregion Baltic International Permanent Secretariat and the ERB Action Plan for 2019. Furthermore, the new Executive Board members were introduced, a new sequence of ERB Presidencies was proposed to start after 2020 and various reports detailing hard-earned results and plans for the future were exhibited.

The inclusion of Skåne  Association of Local Authorities is undoubtedly a very important moment in ERB history. The Association from Sweden represents the 33 most southern municipalities in Sweden. Due to the Swedish local self-government tradition, the municipalities have responsibilities in many important areas such as climate issues and water. The organization also has an office in Brussels which is participating in several working groups such as Blue Growth, Energy and Climate, Water and Digitalization.

The Skåne  Association’s interests coincide with the goals of the new Lithuanian Presidency of the Euroregion Baltic (in the picture) so, it will be interesting to see how cooperation in these subjects will evolve. The Lithuanian ERB Presidency will focus on: blue and green growth (through smart specialization tool-kit), EU Cohesion policy (by effective lobbying and focusing on the South Baltic Programme after 2020) and accessibility/ transport (through the implementation of the Interconnect Project).

These goals were also included in the ERB Action Plan for 2019. It was presented by the new President of the Euroregion Baltic, Mr Vytautas Grubliauskas. The funds, projects connected to the ERB, and success criteria were demonstrated. The new strategy involves events like the Participation Day (in the frame of the EUSBSR Annual Forum) which will take place on 11th June 2019 in Gdansk, right after the Baltic Sea Youth Camp, event that will be attended by 100 young people and representatives of the HA- Horizontal Actions like HA- Capacity Building.

Finally and most importantly, we are glad to have Ms Magda Leszczyna-Rzucidło (in the picture) as the new Head of the ERB International Permanent Secretariat to replace Mr Sebastian Magier who spent almost a decade working dedicatedly for the Euroregion Baltic. Ms Leszczyna-Rzucidło will start her duties in April and until then, Ms Agata Ludwiczak will lead the ERB IPS. Ms Leszczyna-Rzucidło scored the highest result in the interview stage of the recruitment and also received warm recommendations during the Executive Board Meeting. We are looking forward for her arrival in the ERB IPS!

On 14th February, the Youth Board meeting took place. Ms Agata Ludwiczak, from ERB IPS, and Mr Marcin Żuchowski, from the Association of Polish Communes, presented the new Youth Strategy. The strategy is focused around 3 objectives: mobility, development and identity. In order for these objectives to be fulfilled, the use of almost 40 tools was recommended. Some of these tools include youth mobility, the Students’ Council, Youth Centers, youth media, school’s first job and others. Furthermore, there was a discussion on the future of the Youth Board which involved a variety of suggestions and requests for changes in its structure.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the ERB Executive Board meeting introduced certain changes of crucial importance and drew the plan for the future. On the other hand, the Youth Board meeting brought into light many of the alterations needed to be made in order to boost its influence and effectiveness. Both meetings were characterized by openness, cordiality and a sincere wish to discuss and cooperate.

  • The next meeting of the ERB Executive Board and the Annual Forum of the ERB stakeholders will take place in Kalmar on 13th-14th May 2019!

By IVY Theodora Chatzipanteli

ERB Executive Board and Youth Board meetings in Klaipeda

The Executive Board of Euroregion Baltic met in Klaipeda on 22nd May 2018 to discuss about the progress, the challenges and the priorities of the organisation in the coming year. The main topic of the meeting was the development of the ERB 2030 Agenda and discussion on the proposals already submitted by some of the ERB members. The discussion served as a source of inspiration and provided relevant content to the development of the document later this year.

The ERB also continued the dialogue on the pontential enlargement of the organisation by inlcuding a new member from Sweden. To this end a representative of the Skåne Association of Local Authorities (Kommunförbundet Skåne) presented the organisation and their expectations towards the ERB as a potential future member organisation. The process is expected to be finalised at the next Board meeting in September 2018.

Much discussion was dedicated to the question of continuation of the South Baltic Programme under the new proposals submitted by the European Commission. It was agreed unanimously that the Programme should continue as an independent financial tools with significant budget allowing its stakeholders to tackle different challenges identified in the region. In order to provide an effective lobbying for the Programme the Board decided to develop a position paper highlighting the achievements of the Programme and lobbying for its continuation after 2020.

Next day the Youth ERB Board had a very constructive meeting as well. The youth organisation of Klaipeda hosted the meeting and its member presented to the Youth board their actions and activities in Lithuania. Moreover they presented the candidacy of Klaipeda for European Youth Capital 2020 and the vision and goals behind this candidacy.

Alexandra Winberg, the chairwoman of ERB Youth Board announced some changes in the composition Youth Board: Alexandra will not continue to be part of the Board and Johanna Levin will replace her as a new member. Mikkel Hoom Tved will be the next chairman of the Youth Board.

Moreover David Jedrzejak explained his Project Idea about a photo exhibition for non-professional photographers that will take place in different cities of Euroregion Baltic. The exhibition will highlight the beauty of the countries and landscapes within Euroregion Baltic, as a tool to attract more tourists in the region.

Youth Board presented as well its priorities in connection with the Euroregion Baltic Agenda 2030 as following:

a. Exchange of experiences and good practises with youth organisations around the South Baltic Sea!

b. Living conditions for youth.

c. Hot spots for the exchange information among young people!

d. Better promotion of the Youth Board and youth activities in social media.

e. Gender Equality and Human Rights

Last, Damian Ciachorowski presented (via skype) Euroregion Baltic Youth Strategy and specific tools regarding CaSYPoT project and the Youth Board voted upon them,  using the interactive online tool Mentimeter.

 Please follow this link to read draft minutes of the ERB Executive Board in Klaipeda: