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EUSBSR Annual Report adopted on 22 June!

The Report on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was officially adopted by the Commission on 22 June and is now accessible on the Strategy website. The Report is the result of a wide consultation of all stakeholders and provides an assessment of current implementation.

The Report shows that the Strategy facilitates new projects and gives momentum to existing ones. But the Strategy is not solely focussed on projects; its integrated approach encourages better policy development and the alignment of funding and resources, resulting in a better implementation of the EU's overall objectives under Europe2020.

The Report makes recommendations including:

  • Regular discussions of the Strategy by ministers in Council meetings
  • Set targets to prioritise the Strategy's work
  • Maximise efforts to align Structural Funds and other funding sources to the objectives of the Strategy
  • Develop a "Communication initiative" to ensure broader participation in the Strategy, as well as understanding of its achievements.

It is hoped that the Report will now feed into the review of the Strategy foreseen under the Polish EU Presidency.

Save the date: 2nd Annual Forum and 13th BDF Summit in Gdansk, 24-26 October!

Preparations are ongoing for the European Commission's 2nd Annual Forum on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, which will be held together with the Baltic Development Forum's 13th Annual Summit in Gdansk on 24-26 October. Stakeholders are invited to take an active part in the discussions during the Forum, which will provide input to the Polish EU Presidency and to wider reflections on the future development of the Region. A draft programme will be available shortly on the Strategy website, and registration will open in August.

Together with our co-organisers from the Polish EU Presidency, Pomorskie Region and the City of Gdansk, we look forward to seeing you in the beatiful city of Gdansk in October!

A Task Force on roles and responsibilities is established

Strengthening the Strategy's implementation structure and clarifying the Flagship Project concept have been identified as important needs by key stakeholders, for instance at the EUSBSR working meeting at La Hulpe in March. To respond to these needs, the EUSBSR Laboratory Group, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, has established a Task Force on Roles and Responsibilities. To ensure stakeholder involvement and broad representation, the Task Force is composed of the Laboratory Group members, National Contact Points, Priority Area Coordinators, Horizontal Action Leaders and the Commission. It is coordinated by INTERACT Point Turku.

The Task Force will contribute to optimising the implementation of the Strategy by developing the guidelines on the roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders, by developing the concept of the Flagship Project, and by defining joint requirements for the labelling system. The first Task Force meeting was held on 13 June 2011 in Warsaw. The first outcomes will be presented to the EUSBSR High Level Group in autumn, and to the stakeholder groups at the Annual Form on the EUSBSR on 24-26 October in Gdansk. For more information, please contact Ms. Baiba Liepa, project manager of INTERACT Point Turku, phone: +358 40 159 9430, e-mail: baiba.liepa@interact-eu.net.

Priority Area in focus: To become a leading region in maritime safety and security (PA13)

Vessel traffic, and not least the number of oil tankers, on the Baltic Sea is expected to grow considerably in the years to come. At the same time, the size of the vessels is growing. The expected introduction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an environment-friendly fuel for ships will imply frequent visits of large LNG tankers to some ports of the Baltic Sea, which impose new and still partly unknown safety challenges.

Since the Baltic Sea is shallow, the fairways in some places quite narrow, and the marine environment most sensitive to pollution, it is essential to boost cooperation in order to increase maritime safety and security. The overall aim of Priority Area 13 of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is for this Region to become a leader in maritime safety and security. The Priority Area Coordinators, the Danish Maritime Safety Administration and the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications, have established an international Steering Committee in order to reach the aim. The Steering Committee consists of representatives from maritime authorities and stakeholders from most of the Baltic Sea States. Efforts are continuously being made for the involvement of more Member States as well as non-EU Member States in the Baltic Sea Region.

On 21-22 June 2011 the Steering Committee met for the fourth time in Helsinki, Finland. All seven Priority Area Flagship Frojects were discussed and it was noted that the majority of these are progressing well, although some are still seeking funding. Several Flagship Projects plan to present preliminary or final results in the autumn of 2011, in connection with the Annual Forum of the EUSBSR in Gdansk, Poland. The Steering Committee discussed its contribution to the upcoming review of the Strategy. It was also proposed to prepare a regional vision paper on the expected requirements for maritime safety in a 10-years perspective.

Strategy targets

During the first meeting of the Taskforce on Targets on 10 June in Brussels, National Contact Points and the Commission agreed that a limited number of core targets should be designed at Strategy level, in order to earmark both the cooperation process and the policy dimension. The Member States and the Commision are now working on the establishment of a list of proposed targets that will be presented and discussed at a second meeting of the taskforce on 14 July. The ultimate goal is to present a set of core targets at the Annual Forum in Gdansk on 24-26 October.

New initiative to support the implementation of complex projects

In order to further assist the implementation of the Strategy, the Commission is investigating the need for a joint new instrument, an Implementation Facility. The purpose of such a facility would be to help Member States alleviate shortcomings in the implementation of complex Flagship Projects, which often require special care in terms of preparation and follow-up, thereby strengthening the outcomes of the Strategy. The study will be carried out by an external contractor and is expected to show to what extent, and in what thematic areas, the need exists, as well as any gaps in current support programs and concrete proposals on how to proceed.

This agenda is for the convenience of readers. Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by the European Commission and are the responsibility of the respective organisers.
5-7 October19th Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation Annual Conference (Szczecin, Poland) 
24-26 October2nd Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region/13th BDF Summit (Gdansk, Poland)