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Baltic Sea Region

(11 - 11 - 2013)

Baltic Sea Region

On 11-12 November, Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn will attend the fourth Annual Forum on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region held in Vilnius and the 'Networking and Project Village' of the Forum, where flagship projects of the macro-region showcase their activities.


The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was launched by the Commission on 10 June 2009 to boost development in the Baltic Sea Region to the benefit of some 85 million people living there. For the eight EU Member States concerned -, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden– the Strategy represents an innovative way of working together in the European Union – a macro-regional approach allowing regions to cooperate across borders to find common solutions to shared challenges and to build on common assets.

Several cooperation structures such as the 'Northern Dimension Partnership', the Council of the Baltic Sea States, HELCOM (The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission) and the Nordic Council of Ministers provide an active support to external cooperation actions with non EU neighbouring countries in order to make the Strategy more effective.

An evaluation by the Commission of the added value of macro regional strategies, presented in June 2013, shows encouraging progress and results. There is still, however improvements to be made in the implementation of the strategy, namely in terms of following up the strategic objectives in Member states and regions, as well as mobilising funding from European, national, regional and local as well as private resources to attain these objectives.


What are the region's priorities?

The eight EU Member States that implement the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region face common challenges like shortcomings in maritime safety and security, sea pollution and climate change, uneven economic development, insufficient energy transmission and supply support, gaps in transport as well as transport bottlenecks at the external borders.


Therefore the Strategy has three main objectives: "To Save the Sea", "To Connect the Region" and "To Increase Prosperity". These priorities are implemented via a detailed Action Plan which sets out 17 Priority Areas, 5 horizontal actions and some 100 concrete Flagship Projects.


What contribution does the EU’s regional policy make?

For the preparation of the 2014-2020 period, the European Commission request member states to take into account macro regional strategies where relevant in order to align the use of European Structural and Investment funds with the macro regional strategies.

The preparation of programmes for the upcoming programming period is therefore expected to mobilize large parts of the resources necessary to reach the objectives that the 8 member states have jointly set for the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

European Territorial Cooperation programmes are expected to continue their important role in promoting cooperation between the respective Member States, also on actions pertaining to the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

Moreover, the Strategy mobilizes many other EU policies to support the development of the macro‑region like for instance environment policy with the LIFE Programme or Research and Innovation policy with the Bonus – Joint Baltic Sea Research Programme.


Project examples

Clean Baltic Sea Shipping (CLEANSHIP): EU contribution 2.1M€

CLEANSHIP's objective is to ensure a steady progress towards reduction of air emissions and greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by combining technical, operational and market based measures. Another aim is to strengthen EU legislation regarding the abatement of ship-generated air emissions and waste waters, and to improve the implementation arrangements for land based infrastructure by ensuring both the availability of adequate facilities as well as administrative procedures to meet the expected growth of maritime traffic.

CHEMSEA: EU contribution: 3.6 M€

Around 55 000 tons of chemical warfare agents (CWA) were dumped into the Baltic Sea after the World War II. Official dumpsites are Bornholm Deep and Gotland Deep, but there is evidence for their presence also in other places on the seafloor. Their metal shells are corroding and leaking to the environment at a rate that has not been measured so far. Moreover, a large-scale leakage in case of disturbance would pose a serious biohazard to the entire Baltic ecosystem. Unaware of this risk, hydro technical installations and other sea-bottom activities such as trawler fishing are increasingly claiming space within the contaminated areas. The CHEMSEA project will compile for the first time all available information concerning CWAs in the Baltic Sea – their known locations, environmental effects and the so-far practiced methods for both their detection and analysis. New methods for environmental effects analysis of CWAs will be developed and tested in laboratory conditions.

AQUABEST: EU contribution 2.7 M€

AQUABEST is the first Baltic Sea Region-wide consortium of regional authorities, producer organisations, academy and stakeholders with a mission to develop common strategy for sustainable aquaculture production in the region. AQUABEST will present a toolbox of innovative practices and technologies, test them, and provide an Aquaculture Vision acceptable by all stakeholders. AQUABEST is composed of active aquaculture actors within the region. The project has 14 partners from 8 countries and some 15 associated partners representing development and research institutions, national and regional authorities, producer organizations, and NGO.

SCIENCE LINK: EU contribution 2.7 M€

Since major research infrastructure in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) is mainly located in its western parts, SCIENCE LINK aims to establish a network of contact and consultation points in the Baltic Sea Region designed to provide convenient information on opportunities offered by large-scale research infrastructures in the Baltic Sea Region. It will offer advice and support in finding appropriate instruments and services tailored for the specific needs of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. The planned activities will have a strong impact on the commercial sector especially in the Eastern European countries of the Baltic Sea Region.


Further information

EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

4th Annual forum of the Baltic Sea Region Strategy