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EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) is the first comprehensive EU strategy to target a ‘macro-region’. The Strategy was approved by the European Council in 2009 following a Communication and Action Plan from the European Commission.

In 2012, the Strategy went through a comprehensive review, aligning the Action Plan closely with the Europe 2020 Strategy and focusing on three objectives: Save the Sea, Connect the Region and Increase Prosperity. Through the detailed Action Plan now translated into the official languages of the participating Member States the EUSBSR sets out 17 Priority Areas, 5 Horizontal actions and 100 Flagship Projects.

The eight EU countries that make up the Baltic Sea Region (Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland) face several common challenges which are reflected in the jointly-agreed Action Plan for the Strategy. It includes a number of priority areas, each accompanied by concrete flagship projects, as well as by clearly identified targets and indicators. The Strategy helps to mobilise all relevant EU funding and policies and coordinate the actions of the EU, EU countries, regions, pan-Baltic organisations, financing institutions and non-governmental bodies to promote a more balanced development of the Baltic Sea Region.
How does it work in practice?

The Strategy aims at bringing together initiatives in different sectors (Blue Growth, transport, environment etc.) as well as promoting cooperation between stakeholders in the Baltic Sea Region. The Strategy builds on the understanding that initiatives in one sector often impact on objectives in other sectors. Therefore, considerations spanning different sectors and policies are necessary.

Implementation of the Strategy requires active leadership at national level, participation and ownership by all relevant regions and stakeholders, as well as ongoing strategic coordination at a macro regional level. Although the Strategy does not come with extra EU financing, a considerable amount of funding is already available to the region through EU regional policy, other EU programmes and financial instruments, and various international financial institutions. Currently, work is ongoing to embed the strategy’s objectives in the programmes funded by the European Structural and Investments funds for 2014-2020. To fully realise the ambitious objectives, the strategy also needs to be an integral part of national regional and local policies.

Now well into the implementation phase, the Strategy shows the value of this way of cooperating. The implementation process points to issues needing to be further addressed, including better alignment of funding and a more balanced ownership and leadership in the Region. Nevertheless, the Commission’s assessment is that the Strategy is already contributing positively to enhanced cooperation in the Region through improved coordination, and coherence of existing policies, as well as formulation of joint policy objectives.
For more in depth information about the EUSBSR visit the Strategy’s website.