Brussels, 30 September 2008
Commissioner Danuta Hübner and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt launch debate on EU strategy for Baltic Sea Region
Danuta Hübner, the European Commissioner responsible for regional policy, and the Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, will launch a debate today on the EU's future strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Commissioner Hübner and Premier Reinfeldt will open a stakeholder conference in Stockholm, attended by representatives of Member States, NGOs, local authorities and financing institutions, with the aim of laying the foundations for a stronger and more coordinated Baltic Sea policy.
"The Baltic Sea is threatened. Without action, this great sea, famous for trade, for history and for leisure, risks rapidly turning into an ecological disaster zone. The development of the entire Baltic region is also at risk, despite the opportunities created by the Internal Market. A vibrant Baltic region is vitally important for the EU and we need to work together, with Member States and other stakeholders, to tackle common challenges and deliver results that benefit all. The future EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea will be central to addressing today's challenges and making the most of the opportunities," said Commissioner Hübner.
The Strategy will focus on four main objectives:
Attention will also be paid to the creation of a clearer Baltic Sea Region identity, following the example of the Mediterranean. The strategy will moreover be a practical way to cooperate with Russia, the only non-EU state bordering the Baltic Sea. Other non-EU countries have also expressed their interest in the strategy.
Why does Europe need a common strategy on the Baltic Sea region?
In December 2007, the Member States asked the European Commission to prepare an "EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region" by June 2009.
The consultation process launched by today's conference will lead to a proposal for an EU strategy in the form of a Commission Communication in June 2009. This will be accompanied by an action plan identifying key actors, financial instruments to be used for implementation and a timeframe for completion. The adoption of the Strategy by the Member States will be one of the priorities of the Swedish Presidency in the second half of 2009.
The next Baltic Sea Region conferences/debates will take place in Gdansk (13 Nov), Copenhagen (1-2 Dec), Helsinki (9 Dec) and Rostock (5-6 Feb 2009).
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