Extracts from the press conference by Danuta Hübner on a Strategy to boost development of Baltic Sea Region
On 10 June, the European Commission presented its proposal for an EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Five years on from enlargement, the region is facing pressing challenges including the deteriorating state of the Baltic Sea, poor transport links, barriers to trade and energy supply concerns. These problems have been exacerbated by a lack of effective coordination. The Strategy, presented by Danuta Hübner, Member of the EC in charge of Regional Policy, above all aimed to maximise the development potential of the Member States and regions in the Baltic Sea area, which is home to nearly 100 million people.
The Baltic Sea Region was facing several important challenges. The state of the sea is deteriorating due to excessive discharges of nitrates and phosphates and biodiversity is under threat. Economies needed to be better inter-connected. Statistics indicated an over-reliance on trade with immediate neighbours. The Baltic region was hampered by long distances, internally and with the rest of Europe: it takes 36 hours by train to reach Tallinn from Warsaw. Another concern was the isolation of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in terms of energy supplies. Finally, with the increasing number of oil tankers using the sea as a highway, the threat of accidents was ever present.