EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

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    The young generation was a main concern during the 10th annual forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. And it’s not really surprising: over the last months, we heard them in the street in Belgium, in France, in Poland : they are really worried about their future and they definitely want to be part of the debate. What answer can the EU deliver ?

    First of all, several actors said that it’s really important to educate about recycling, and that it needs to be done at school. People should be educated on how they can change their behaviour : for example, not to throw a plastic bottle in the forest, and to put waste in the right bin … Also, in the supermarket : in some places, people can now take their own boxes to carry the food. We need to change our behaviour for transports too : preferring bus and train instead of car or plane. It’s a huge challenge for all of us : we need to make these changes together in order to be effective. Gintaras Vilda, Vice-Minister of Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania, added that professors should be competent in circular economy to deliver the message to the young generation.

    Martin Rümmelein presented the Baltic Sea Youth Camp, which is a festival to engage young people to explore culture and politics, and to share their point of view, create a debate. It contributes to a large movement initiated by young people who want to have an impact. Now, and finally, young people have a voice and ideas to share, they are able to take the initiative. The challenge now is to give them the opportunity to do something concretely. Because beyond encouraging words, we need to see actions.

    Let the new generation influence us

    Some speakers at the Forum said that we should influence the new generation. But at this point, the new generation is maybe more ready to change their way to live than the old generation. A lot of young people now tell their parents what they should buy or not. They influence their family and convince them to change their behaviours. So maybe, instead of trying to influence them and educate them, we should listen to them. Of course, it has to be an exchange, but the old generation will be for sure harder to convince than the younger one.

    Aurore Dessaigne, young journalist participating in the Youth4Regions programme

      

    The opening session of the 2019 Baltic Sea Forum showed the spirit of the Baltic Sea region for the future, especially concerning the environment, climate change and global warming. It is a huge challenge for Europe, which has to provide answers to the young people who are in the street, worried about the future of their planet.

    “Hope the decisions will be ‘greener’ ”

    Mieczyslaw Struk, Marshal of Pomorskie Region in Poland, said that the results of the European elections showed a growth of European Parliament members from green parties. In this way, he hopes that “decisions will be ‘greener’ “ in the future. Actually, the green party won 25 seats more compared to the 2014 parliament elections. A movement that the EU macro-regional strategies want to follow and promote. The ambassador of Estonia in Poland, Martin Roger, gave the example of plastic. The objective is to have zero plastic pollution. As we know, the European Parliament follows this policy with the ban of plastic for single use decided earlier this year.

    The question is : is it not too late ? Plastic pollution in the sea is a huge problem and it will take years to clean it. And we know that is why this movement needs to be global. With some ministers and presidents who not believe in climate change, how can we succeed? 

    “None of us can do it alone”

    Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entreneurship and SMEs, insists on the need to work in partnership. She also said that “none of us can do it alone”. It is the main purpose of EU macro-regional strategies like the Baltic Sea Region: it invites regions to work together. They hope that other countries will follow EU on this challenge. They are calling for greater cooperation between regions and countries.

    Marcin Ociepa, Deputy Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology of Poland, said that “when we talk about circular economy, we are speaking about a challenge for all Europe, and also the whole world”. It is an optimistic view, as we know that not all countries in the world are ready to believe in the need to change our behaviour, especially United States. But some people are already convinced: the young ones.

    “Raise the voice of youth”

    Roger Ryberg, chair of Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation, insists on the importance to involve young people. Initiated by Greta Thunberg, the young European people are concerned by their future. They organised many protests in the street to alarm the institutions. It is an opportunity to transform this movement in solutions, to have concrete results. The challenge is to be able to say to this young generation: do not be afraid, it is going to be okay. Obviously, we are not able to say that today, but it could be an inspiring motivation for stakeholders.

    Aurore Dessaigne, young journalist participating in the Youth4Regions programme

    REGISTER NOW! Registration is open until the 15th of May to participate to the 10th Annual Forum for the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the 12th and 13th of June in Gdansk (Poland)!

    This year, the main topic is “Circular and sharing economy as an answer to demographic changes and environmental challenges in the Baltic Sea Region.

    Participants will have the opportunity to attend among 19 seminars dealing with the potential for the development of the Circular Economy in the Baltic Sea Region in areas such as health, food, tourism, transport, cities, bioeconomy, industry, education, migrants, labour market and demography.

    The Forum also offers the opportunity to participate in the Networking Village, where participants can have a direct contact with those responsible for the work of EUSBSR.

    Finally yet importantly, the Forum will be the occasion to mobilise young people around an international poster contest: "BALTIC POSTER CONTEST 2019. Reduce, Reuse, Rethink!"

    The contest is open to people aged 18-35 who are citizens of states-participants of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden) as well as Norway. Ceremony to award prizes will be held during the Forum.

    Sent your application by the 6th of May 2019 to ddpk.sekretariat@msz.gov.pl. Further information.

    Check out the global agenda, we are looking forward to meeting you in Gdansk!

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.