EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

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    Despite the progressing age of communities in the Baltic Sea region, needs of the elderly are not being sufficiently addressed by producers of furniture and home equipment. In the project BaltSe@nior, by developing prototypes of intelligent furniture and upgrading design trends, companies are offered thriving opportunities to develop more suitable products for the elderly. Transnational cooperation that increases the comfort of life of seniors and at the same time fosters a more competitive Europe drew the attention of EU Commissioner Corina Crețu, who recently paid a visit to the project.

     Demonstration of the age simulator by BaltSe@nior at Milan Design Week 2018 © Jakub Wittchen

    Demonstration of the age simulator by BaltSe@nior at Milan Design Week 2018 © Jakub Wittchen 

    Why design for seniors? 

    With almost 20% of the EU population being 65 years old or more, the market offering products to seniors is still underdeveloped. As a result, the elderly experience decreased comfort of life, jeopardising their independence in their home environment. In order to tackle this challenge, partners from nine countries (Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden) representing traditional wood and furniture industries, social sciences, robotics, engineering, and Information and communication technologies (ICT) came together in the project BaltSe@nior. By means of transnational cooperation, BaltSe@nior encourages designers and enterprises to design and manufacture tailored furniture that incorporate smart solutions to increase seniors’ comfort and security in their home environments. 

    Compiled data on seniors’ health and lifestyle around the Baltic Sea was the project’s starting point for developing innovative tools, such as a 3D printable age simulator imitating physical limitations related to a senior age, a mirror displaying personalised messages, baseboards allowing for detection of an elderly person's fall and glasses imitating vision disorders. All the design methods and design tools will be available in an online library to help companies verify the particular needs of seniors in a given country, adjust their offerings and more easily enter other markets.  

    Care for seniors valued by the European Commission 

    The Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu’s interest in the project proves the need for Interreg to cope with social aspects of integration of disadvantaged groups, such as elderly people. During the field visit held on 5 June 2018 at Tallinn University of Technology, the Commissioner got acquainted with the project’s aims and achievements, including the age simulator prototype, which was presented by representatives of Poznan University of Life Sciences. The Commissioner congratulated the project on its results and transnational cooperation covering nine countries of the Baltic Sea region, expressing her great interest in supporting the issues of seniors in the EU. 

    “It was an enormous honour for all our BaltSe@nioR team, which gave us additional motivation to work even harder. We have a strong belief that the recognition we are gaining with our project activities significantly raises awareness and influences the attitude towards the senior population – not only among furniture companies as our target group, but reaching much further to the end users – seniors and those who take care of them, journalists, interior architects and also authorities and politicians, step-by-step transforming the EU into a better and friendlier place for seniors,” says Dr Beata Fabisiak, BaltSe@nioR project coordinator.

    Interest in design for seniors

    Originally, the project addresses manufacturers and enterprises in the furniture industry around the Baltic Sea. However, BaltSe@nior reach goes far beyond. At the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2018, the project presented its achievements, including sensor mats for designing more comfortable mattresses and redesigned armchairs from the 1960s tailored to the needs of the elderly. Soon after, BaltSe@nior successfully entered Milan Design Week 2018, the world’s biggest design event to exchange concepts with designers from Europe and beyond. The project’s tools are also attractive to other sectors beyond furniture industry, such as physiotherapy and interior design. 

    Baltic Sea region: a comfort zone for seniors 

    The project actively aspires to improve the quality of life of seniors by empowering enterprises in the furniture industry and beyond. Being part of the BSR Stars flagship of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, it contributes to innovative character of the region. Along with creating synergies between the traditional industry and innovative ICT, it substantially increases competitiveness of companies in the Baltic Sea region, fostering European integration and cohesion.

    BaltSe@nior was present at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2018 & Milan Design Week 2018. Photo by Jakub Wittchen

     

    Source: https://www.interreg-baltic.eu/news-detail/news/baltic-sea-region-as-a-design-comfort-zone-for-seniors.html

    Top picture: EU Commissioner Corina Cretu visits BaltSe@nior project in Tallinn on 5 June 2018 © Florin Rugina 

     

    The proposal for a new cohesion policy has been released less than a week ago by the European Commission. Very much awaited, the proposal presents a modern, simplified and flexible policy for all the regions. But what does it mean for the Baltic Sea region? Around 700 stakeholders from all levels (EU, macro-regional, national, regional, local) are meeting today and tomorrow in Tallinn to discuss just that: the Baltic Sea region after 2020.

    The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) is the oldest of EU’s 4 macro-regional strategies and the experience accumulated during the previous 9 years will be put to good use to look at how to improve the implementation of the EUSBSR in the framework of the new cohesion policy. Very important questions for the region, such as the current state of the ecosystem in the Baltic Sea and how to advance the region as a global digital hub, are also on the agenda for discussions today and tomorrow. Commissioner Corina Cretu will be presenting the Commission’s view on the future of the Baltic Sea region.

    To learn more about the EUSBSR, have a look here.

    Routes4U Project aims to enhance regional development in the Adriatic-Ionian, the Alpine, the Baltic Sea and the Danube regions through the Cultural Routes certified by the Council of Europe. The 30-month project (2017-2020) has been launched in the framework of the joint programme between the Council of Europe (DGII – EPA on Cultural Routes) and the European Union (European Commission, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy). 

    The four EU macro-regions, covering 27 countries (19 EU Member States and 8 non-EU countries), are crossed by 25 transnational networks certified “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” such as the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Routes, the Phoenicians’ Routes, the Hansa and the Olive Tree Routes. The Routes4U Project contributes to cultural cooperation and provides a transnational platform for regional and national stakeholders. In line with the Faro Convention (Council of Europe, 2005), the project also promotes the importance of local citizens and their strong connection with their heritage in the creation of a common European narrative. 

    Routes4U implements activities for the four EU macro-regions related to cultural heritage and sustainable tourism in view of regional development. Among the highlighted activities: Research and guidelines on sustainable cultural tourism, a digital platform to discover Cultural Routes landmark sites and less-known destinations in the EU macro-regions and the assistance of new cultural routes projects in view to the certification “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe”. 

    More information: www.coe.int/routes4u

More news

The European Commission coordinates the efforts of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. For news and information on the activities and progress of the Strategy as curated by the various stakeholders, please visit the EUSBSR's dedicated website at www.balticsea-region-strategy.eu.

 

The EUSBSR is the first comprehensive EU strategy to target a ‘macro-region’.

The eight EU countries that make up the Baltic Sea Region (Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland) face several common challenges which are reflected in the jointly-agreed Action Plan for the Strategy. It includes a number of policy areas/horizontal actions to save the sea, connect the region and increase prosperity – each accompanied by concrete flagships as well as by clearly identified targets and indicators. The Strategy helps to mobilise all relevant EU funding and policies and coordinate the actions of the European Union, EU countries, regions, pan-Baltic organisations, financing institutions and non-governmental bodies to promote a more balanced development of the Baltic Sea Region.

The Commission publishes regular reports on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

Achievements so far include:

  • Support for new projects, including cooperation between farmers to reduce eutrophication and improved planning for transport infrastructure;
  • Greater involvement of Russian partners in areas like environmental protection, water quality and innovation;
  • Improved cooperation between regions and other partners, including the private sector

Although the Strategy does not come with extra EU financing, a considerable amount of funding is already available to the region through EU regional policy, other EU programmes and financial instruments, and various international financial institutions. More information on funding may be found at the EUSBSR website.

Contacts

To get in contact with the EUSBSR team in DG REGIO, please email REGIO-EU-BALTIC-SEA-STRATEGY@ec.europa.eu.

For more information on how to get in contact with EUSBSR stakeholders, please visit the EUSBSR website.