Baltic Sea Strategy
The Commission establishes a strategy to deal with the deterioration of the Baltic Sea, to improve the quality of transport networks and remove obstacles to trade.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 June 2009 concerning the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region [COM(2009) 248 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission has adopted a global strategy to draw benefits from the economic and environmental potential of the Baltic Sea Region and meet the shared challenges facing this region. The strategy aims at improving coordination among the eight Member States bordering the Baltic Sea and other coastal states which are not members of the European Union (EU).
This strategy takes the form of a Communication. Its implementation is based on strengthening cooperation between national and regional governments, enterprises and the rest of civil society. This is a new approach whose application began in the Danube Basin and which could inspire other strategies of the same type in other European regions.
The measures adopted as part of the strategy are grouped into four pillars:
- to enable a sustainable environment;
- to develop the region’s prosperity;
- to increase accessibility and attractiveness;
- to ensure safety and security in the region.
In order to guarantee a sustainable environment, the eight countries concerned should take measures aimed at:
- reducing nutrient inputs to the sea to acceptable levels;
- preserving natural zones and biodiversity including fisheries;
- reducing the use and impact of hazardous substances;
- becoming a model region for clean shipping;
- mitigating and adapting to climate change.
The countries concerned will be supported by the measures and instruments established under the strategy for the marine environment or the Common Fisheries Policy. The strategy for the Baltic Sea will constitute a first step towards the regional implementation of the Union’s Integrated Maritime Policy. The ‘rural development’ strand of the Common Agricultural Policy will also contribute to developing a sustainable environment in the region.
The strategy aims at enhancing the region’s prosperity and attractiveness. The actions implemented should thus contribute to:
- removing hindrances to the internal market in the Baltic Sea Region;
- exploiting the full potential of the region in research and innovation;
- implementing the “Small Business Act”: to promote entrepreneurship, strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises and increase the efficient use of human resources;
- reinforcing sustainable agriculture, forestry and fishing.
The Baltic Sea Region is still isolated from the rest of the EU, particularly in the area of transport and energy. The strategy therefore aims at enhancing the region’s accessibility and attractiveness. The actions to be implemented by these countries should:
- improve the access to, and the efficiency and security of, the energy markets;
- improve internal and external transport links;
- maintain and reinforce the attractiveness of the Baltic Sea Region in particular through education, tourism and health.
In terms of safety, the EU aims at limiting the risks of accidental or intentional marine pollution and combating organised crime. The actions to be implemented should contribute to:
- making the region a model for clean shipping;
- reinforcing protection from major emergencies at sea and on land;
- decreasing the volume of, and the harm done by, cross-border crime.
Horizontal actions supplement the actions adopted under the four pillars above. These concern in particular the development of integrated maritime governance structures and maritime and land-based spatial planning. The BONUS-169 project is one example of the type of project which should contribute to the success of the strategy. It is funded under the Seventh Framework Programme and combines an ecosystem approach with an effective science/policy interface.
The actions and projects implemented under the strategy may be supported by Community funding available under European programmes and instruments such as the Seventh Framework Programme, the Life+ programme, the Trans-European Networks for transport and energy, European Structural Funds, etc. Aid earmarked for the Baltic Sea Region under the cohesion policy amounts to more than EUR 50 billion for the period 2007-2013. The Commission plans to work with fund programming authorities in order to facilitate the selection of projects in the light of the objectives of the strategy.
The strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is an internal instrument addressed to the EU and the Member States. However, it involves collaboration with other stakeholders in the region such as Russia, Norway and Belarus. This cooperation with third countries will benefit already existing structures through the Northern Dimension. It will also take place within inter-governmental organisations such as the Helsinki Commission for the Baltic Sea.
This strategy is the result of an online public consultation launched by the Commission in November 2008 and many public debates and working groups which took place in the eight Member States concerned.