EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region
The EU Baltic Sea Region with its almost 85 million inhabitants (17 percent of EU population) has actively embraced the many opportunities created by enlargement, reinforcing EU integration and increasing regional coherence. As a result, there is growing awareness of the Region’s shared natural resources, and its environmental fragility. The recent economic crisis has further demonstrated the need to work together, and countries in the Region have responded effectively.
The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) adopted by the European Commission in June 2009, and endorsed by the European Council in October 2009, has played its part. It addresses key challenges and untapped potential of this large region, covering about one third of the total area of the EU. It provides an integrated framework for improving the environmental condition of this shallow enclosed sea, tackling transport bottlenecks and energy interconnections. It facilitates development of markets across borders, as well as common networks for research, innovation and enterprise.
With these concrete steps, the Strategy contributes significantly to such major EU policies as Europe 2020 and the Integrated Maritime Policy, as well as reinforcing the EU integration of the Region following enlargement. The Strategy shows that through common action the challenges to promote a sustainable environment; enhance the Region’s prosperity; increase accessibility and attractiveness; and ensure safety and security can be tackled effectively. It reinforces efforts to achieve common EU objectives, and integrate territorial and sectoral issues based on shared challenges. The Northern Dimension, a common policy of the EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland, provides the basis for external cooperation.
Now well into the implementation phase, the Strategy shows the value of a new way of cooperating. It demonstrates commitment of partners at national, regional, and civil society levels, built especially on the work of the European Parliament and the wide local input in the open consultation phase. While the implementation process points to issues needing to be further addressed, including better alignment of funding and a reinforced organisational structure, it is the Commission’s assessment that the Strategy is already contributing positively to enhanced cooperation in the Region.
Priority Areas of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region
Through a detailed Action Plan, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region sets out 15 Priority Areas and 80 concrete Flagship Projects. Each Priority Area has at least one administration from the participating Member States acting as Priority Area Coordinator.
An overview of the Priority Areas and Flagship projects, with links to more information, can be found here.
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An integrated framework that allows the European Union and Member States to identify needs and match them to the available resources through co-ordination of appropriate policies, thus enabling the Baltic Sea Region to enjoy a sustainable environment and optimal economic and social development.