Brussels, 3 November 2008
Danuta Hübner, the European Commissioner for regional policy, will today announce the launch of a major on-line consultation on the EU's future strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Member States, regional and local authorities, NGOs, inter-governmental bodies and the general public are invited to put forward their views on the strategy between now and 31 December 2008. The main aims of the strategy are to improve the environmental state of the Baltic Sea, to support balanced economic development in the region, and to make it more accessible and secure.
Commissioner Hübner said: “Since the 2004 enlargement of the European Union, the Baltic has practically become an internal EU sea. We want to develop the Baltic area into a key region in Europe and world-wide, making it clean and liveable, attractive and safe. To make this strategy a success, we need to work together with Member States, with regions and cities, the private sector, interest groups, and the public. We want as many people as possible onboard and that is why we are launching this online consultation. We need your ideas, your energy, your knowledge and your expertise to help us deliver the best results, for the benefit of all."
Issues addressed in the consultation
The consultation seeks feedback on the four main proposed objectives of the strategy:
Member States asked the European Commission to prepare an "EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region" at the European Council in December 2007.
Commissioner Hübner and the Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, held the first of a series of conference-debates on the future strategy in Stockholm on 30 September (IP/08/1430). Further debates, organised as part of the consultation process, will take place in Gdansk (13 November), Copenhagen (1-2 December), Helsinki (9 December) and Rostock (5-6 February 2009). The consultation, which is also open to non-EU Member States such as the Russian Federation, Iceland and Norway, will lead to a Commission Communication, formally proposing the strategy, in June 2009. The Communication will be accompanied by an action plan identifying key actors, financial instruments for implementation and a timeframe for completion. The adoption of the strategy will be one of the priorities of the Swedish Presidency in the second half of 2009.
The consultation is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/consultation/baltic/consultation_en.htm