Extracts from the press conference by Danuta Hübner on a Strategy to boost development of Baltic Sea Region
Type: Summary of press conference
End production: 10/06/2009
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.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Arrival to the press room
||SOUNDBITE by Danuta Hübner, Member of the EC in charge of Regional Policy (in ENGLISH): For this strategy we have identified 4 pillars, 4 main areas to work on. This is the environment, the prosperity -I could say in a roughly economy- and all which is related to economy. The third pillar is accessibility and attractiveness and this is probably does not come as a surprise, if you think about all energy networks needed there and also the transport infrastructure which has not reached yet the critical mass that would serve the development there; and the fourth area is safety and security related mostly with the maritime character of this macro-region.
||Cutaway: a photographer
||SOUNDBITE by Danuta Hübner (in ENGLISH): The European Union is already involved in the whole area with more than 50 billion Euros with the cohesion policy but these are more individual projects, prepared, implemented independently by individual regions, or cities or member states, and through this strategy we will make a better use of those billions of Euros which are already ambitious for the regions.
||Cutaway: members of the audience
||SOUNDBITE by Danuta Hübner (in ENGLISH): When we were doing the stocktaking we discovered that there are so many institutions around but there is basically no coordination, because some of those institutions which are political in nature, they have remained at high political level without really getting involved in the implementation of concrete projects. For this strategy we agreed from the very beginning that this strategy is going to be a strategy which will deliver. And that is why we agreed that it will be accompanied by an action plan by a very concrete list of agreed projects and also by a mechanism to deliver.
||Cutaway: members of the audience
||SOUNDBITE by Danuta Hübner (in ENGLISH): In fact, I could even say a condition expressed by all the member states, is that this should be a EU strategy not just Baltic's strategy but an EU strategy which then will also be shared, discussed, and get involved our neighbours, especially Russia, but Norway has been extremely active and also Iceland. So Russia has already said very clearly that they want to cooperate on various aspects of the strategy and the question you have asked is very clear where we also need Russia because we will no solve the identification problem of the Baltic sea or many other problems, the safety problem, the dangerous REX and deposits of chemical weapons.