The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EU SBSR) is the first macro-regional strategy in Europe. Its main goal is to strengthen cooperation in this region, promoting balanced development and meeting common challenges.
EU SBSR is closely connected to the main EU policy directions, including those mentioned in strategy “Europe 2020”. EU SBSR was approved in 2009, following the Communication from the European Commission concerning the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
EU SBSR provides an integrated framework for improving the environmental condition of the sea, transport bottlenecks and energy interconnections as well as facilitating the development of competitive markets across borders and common networks for research and innovation.
EU SBSR MEMBER STATES
EU SBSR includes eight Member States in the Baltic Sea region: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Poland, Finland, Germany and Sweden.
Within the EU SBSR, cooperation is promoted with the neighbouring countries – Russian Federation, Iceland, Norway and Belarus.
EU SBSR TARGETS AND IMPLEMENTATION MECHANISM
EU SBSR has three general targets: (1) save the sea; (2) connect the region; (3) increase prosperity. Each target has a set of directions for corresponding actions, at the same time ensuring their interconnectivity.
EU SBSR aims at bringing together initiatives in different sectors (growth, sustainable development etc.) as well as promoting cooperation between stakeholders in the Baltic Sea Region. EU SBSR promotes flagship projects in the Baltic Sea Region, which have a macro-regional impact and start from joint initiatives involving partnership from different countries. EU SBSR implementation mechanism includes an active participation of actors and stakeholders at local, national and macro-regional level.
Implementation of the EU SBSR doesn’t include any special funding, but it is possible to receive the support from various EU programmes and financial instruments (for example, European Social Fund, European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, European Fisheries Fund, Horizon 2020, BONUS, LIFE, INTERREG, etc.).
EU SBSR POLICY AREAS AND HORIZONTAL ACTIONS
The implementation of the EU SBSR is based on the Action plan, which is regularly revised. On 120 March 2017, the European Commission came up with the new Action plan that includes 13 Policy Areas and 4 Horizontal Actions.
According to the EU SBSR, actions are being implemented within the following Policy Areas:
1. PA Bioeconomy – Agriculture, forestry and fisheries
2. PA Culture – Culture & creative sectors
3. PA Education – Education, research and employability
4. PA Energy – BEMIP Action Plan (for competitive, secure and sustainable energy)
5. PA Hazards – Reducing the use and impact of hazardous substances
6. PA Health – Improving and promoting people’s health, including its social aspects
7. PA Innovation – Exploiting the full potential of the region in research, innovation and SME, utilising the Digital Single Market as a source for attracting talents and investments
8. PA Nutri – Reducing nutrient inputs to the sea to acceptable levels
9. PA Safe – To become a leading region in maritime safety and security
10. PA Secure – Protection from land-based emergencies, accidents and cross-border crime
11. PA Ship – Becoming a model region for clean shipping
12. PA Tourism – Reinforcing cohesiveness of the macro-region through tourism
13. PA Transport – Improving internal and external transport links
Policy Areas are specific areas for macro-regional cooperation that address the key challenges and opportunities in the region. The work carried out under each Policy Area involves stakeholders from various levels (international, national, regional, local) and sectors (public, private, civil society).
According to the EU SBSR, actions are also being implemented within the following Horizontal Actions:
1. HA Capacity – Capacity building and involvement
2. HA Climate – Climate change and its challenges
3. HA Neighbours – Creating added value to the Baltic Sea cooperation by working with neighbouring countries and regions
4. HA Spatial Planning – Encouraging the use of maritime and land-based spatial planning in all Member
Horizontal Actions of the EU SBSR are transversal, they correspond to the main targets and compliment the Policy Areas.
EU SBSR IMPLEMENTATION IN LATVIA
In order to coordinate the cooperation of ministries, social partners and NGOs within the implementation process of the EU SBSR Action plan at the national level, a working group (link in Latvian) has been created, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia.
On 28 June 2016, the Report on the EU SBSR implementation mechanism in Latvia (link in Latvian) has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. It has outlined the functions of the ministries within the implementation of the EU SBSR Policy Areas and Horizontal Actions.
THE ROLE OF THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCE WITHIN THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS OF THE EU SBSR
The Ministry of Education and Science is Latvia’s leading institution within the PA Education, and shares responsibility with the Ministry of Economics regarding the PA Innovation.
PA Education states that increased prosperity presupposes access to good education and training for all, an effective and inclusive welfare system and a well-functioning labour market supporting geographical, professional and socio-economic mobility.
PA Education focuses on the following actions:
- Combatting early school leaving and improving transition from education to labour market
- Improving quality of education and vocational training through work-based learning and fostering entrepreneurial mind-sets
- International excellence in tertiary education, science and research
- A labour market for all, using resources of longer lives
- Recognising potential – easing the way for newly arrived refugees
PA Innovation stresses the promotion of global competitiveness and growth in the Baltic Sea region through support for entrepreneurship, business development, science and increased innovation capacity.
PA Innovation promotes contribution in building an ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship in the Baltic Sea region by 2020, based on smart specialisation and sustainable growth for increased competitiveness.
Education policy issues – Ms Aļona Babiča, Department of Policy Initiatives and Development (+371 67047703, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Science and innovation policy issues – Mr Kaspars Karolis, Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation (+371 67047996, email@example.com).
More information regarding the EU SBSR is available here.