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Press Release

The EU's Assembly of Regional and Local Representatives

COR/10/73

Tallinn, 14 October 2010

Baltic Sea strategy delivered first results for the citizens, Commissioner Hahn and CoR President Bresso say

One year after its adoption, the European Union’s strategy for the Baltic Sea region has started delivering results for the citizens. Now we have to keep up the momentum. This was the message delivered by Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Committee of the Regions (CoR) President Mercedes Bresso at the first Baltic Sea Forum in Tallinn today.

The Baltic Sea area is pioneering a new form of cross-border cooperation in the EU: In this first European ‘macroregion’, all levels of government are working together to tackle challenges which no country can face on its own, but which are too specific for EU rules. They develop and implement joint flagship projects, such as combating marine pollution or strengthening transport links.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia, commented: “We hear often that Europe must be brought closer to the citizen, as it indeed should be. The Baltic Sea Strategy is actually the first EU strategy to have originated in the European Parliament. It is the first EU policy initiative to get its start from those people democratically and directly elected by the citizens of the European Union.”

Now that the mechanisms for implementation are in place, the strategy has started delivering results on the ground, stated CoR President Mercedes Bresso: “Now we need to keep the political momentum. Cities, towns and regions will do this. For example, we need to keep the good pace of progress on the strategy’s environment pillar. A group of flagship projects are leading the way on key issues like fighting eutrophication and climate change, as well as boosting “clean shipping”. Bresso underlined the huge potential of this new approach, for instance the economies of scale that joint projects can generate: "At European level, we need to capitalise on the work done in the Baltic. The Baltic strategy could thus serve as a model for other European regions, such as the Adriatic-Ionian Sea.”

Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: “This strategy shows that if an initiative is taken by regions and member states, cooperation on the ground can happen quickly and in a very effective way. Too often people think the EU only talks about cooperation, but here we prove that it works and delivers results, as we are setting up concrete projects to improve water quality and develop our economies in a practical and sustainable way.”

The Baltic Sea region, as defined by the EU strategy, comprises Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden. The ‘Northern Dimension’, a common policy of the EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland, provides the basis for external cooperation on the strategy.

The Committee of the Regions has been a consistent supporter of this new ‘macroregional’ approach, and published reports on the Baltic sea strategy in April 2009 and April 2010.

In the framework of her visit to Tallinn, CoR President Bresso also held talks with the Estonian members of the Committee of the Regions and the Presidents of the Estonian associations representing local authorities.

Further information:

The CoR on the internet: www.cor.europa.eu

The Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law violates the subsidiarity principle of fails to respect regional or local powers.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Alfons

Mobile Tel.: +32 (0)475 555 016

michael.alfons@cor.europa.eu

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