Following a meeting of the BDF Board, an agreement has been reached on BDF’s role and activities in the Region during this year. Here is a short version of the BDF Strategy 2010.
Baltic Development Forum 2010 Strategy
Working with Regional Presidencies on Project Implementation and Economic Recovery
With the adoption of the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the Heads of Government of the EU have made strong commitments. It is time to deliver. The Baltic Sea Region is a test case for new European integration initiatives and multi-level governance structures. If results are not produced, it will be difficult to argue that regions in Europe are the new platform for innovative solutions that combines regional and European integration. A lot is at stake for the EU Member States in the region and for the European Commission.
The EU strategy needs to perform on a practical level and to demonstrate to the private sector that the conditions for doing business and creating wealth are improving. There is still work to be done in convincing the business sector that the strategy is a tool for real improvements. At the same time, the business sector needs to make its voice stronger in the stakeholder process.
Economic recovery is also significant and the search for a new formula for achieving sustainable growth, jobs and international competitiveness for Europe. A new post-Lisbon strategy has to be defined. Ideally, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region can serve as a useful regional application that goes closer and deeper into local and regional characteristics, opportunities and problems. It has the potential to become a role model.
Priorities for 2010
Based on a close dialogue with close members and partners of BDF during the last months, the following concrete priorities and actions have been identified and should be highlighted:
- Implementing the EU Strategy
BDF will work together with the Commission in keeping the EU Strategy high on the regional agenda during the implementation phase. The political commitment needs to be constantly renewed in order to provide guidance and support. In times of economic crisis, the best solutions frequently lie in closer cooperation with neighbours that have the biggest influence on the national economy but often focus is on national rather than regional solutions. This issue will be on the agenda at the BDF 2010 Summit in Vilnius and at the BSSSC-conference in Tallinn during the autumn. The State of the Region report will bring articles on the process and on the situation of important flagship projects under the EU strategy.
- Summit 2010
For the first time, the BDF Summit coincides with the Baltic Sea States Summit (Two Summits – One City) – and thereby provides exceptional meeting opportunities for all high-level stakeholders in the region. BDF is proud to be working closely together with the Lithuanian Government, the Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the confederations of industries of the region.
The Summit will focus on making the Baltic Sea Region a wider European model for sustainable growth, green jobs, innovation and a global leader in competitiveness. Regions are the new platform for policy innovation in Europe and for providing inspiration on how to design sustainable growth and jobs – hence the title “European challenges – regional solutions: An agenda for sustainable Growth, Investments and Jobs”.
- State of the Region Report
The 2010 edition will focus on the economic situation in and the competitiveness of the three Baltic States and Poland. The report will give a general overview of the current economic climate and the competitiveness of the Region in general as well as an update on the Baltic Sea Region institutions that are active in regional cooperation. This year’s sponsors will be European Investment Bank and Nordic Council of Ministers.
- Regional Strategy for Jobs, Growth and Innovation
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region has the potential of developing into a regional application of the EU’s jobs and growth strategy (EU2020). BDF should take initiatives to inspire regions and governments to look at jobs and growth initiatives from a regional perspective and to take into consideration the views of the region’s private sector. BDF will work with industry and business representatives in order to produce a policy document that can be part of the decision-making of the EU and the European Council in June 2010. Roundtable discussions with leading economists, experts and universities will be part of the process.
The report on energy scenarios for the Baltic Sea Region provided new input to the regional agenda setting. BDF will continue high-lighting the advantages of a more integrated approach to energy planning and BDF will continue its close contact with the Lithuanian BASREC-cooperation.
Work should be initiated on elaborating a future vision for energy cooperation in the BSR in parallel with the European Commission’s strategic energy reviews and roadmap for Europe in 2050. Similarly, it is a deficiency that there is no strong chapter on energy efficiency in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The BSR has very favourable opportunities to improve energy efficiency due to the technological advances and the many low-hanging fruits in Russia, the Baltic countries and Poland. Last but not least, BDF will follow up on the energy seminar in Kaliningrad in 2009 together with Nordic Council of Ministers. The regional integration of Kaliningrad is highly relevant in terms of energy planning.
The Baltic Sea Region has all the chances of establishing itself as the international hub or centre for water management and clean tech due to the many competences and the many problems related to the polluted Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea is a real time laboratory for finding solutions applicable in many other areas in the world. Funds for addressing the issue of pollution need to be found to match the high-level political commitments that have been made, not least at the Baltic Sea States summit in February 2010 in Helsinki.
- Think Tank
Efforts to establish a regional think-tank will continue by applying for funding and enlarging the existing network of researchers and research institutions in the Baltic Sea Region. The proposal has been favourably received by Commission representatives and it is regarded as a positive contribution to the regional debate on regional cooperation dynamics, political/economic problems and priorities. The ambitions should be to publish a yearly Political State of the Region Report in the BDF publication Baltic Sea Agenda.
- Femern Belt
The Femern Belt construction between Germany and Denmark will for many years be the biggest infrastructure development in Europe and it will provide better transport and logistics facilities for Northern Europe, strengthening the growth potential of several metropolises in the Baltic Sea Region. Since many of BDF’s public/private members and strategic partners are placed on the Hamburg-Copenhagen-Stockholm/Oslo dimension, BDF is well placed to work as a catalyst for the project and its potential to a larger regional network.
- Northern Dimension Cooperation
The Northern Dimension is being extended with a business dimension (Northern Dimension Business Council). The BDF proposes to support this development by producing an economic report on North-West Russia focusing on trade and investment links with the other Baltic Sea and Northern Dimension countries. The BDF’s annual State of the Region Report could serve as a model for an economic analysis. The purpose is to create a solid basis for a debate on priorities and problems in economic cooperation between Russia and her EU neighbours (and Norway).
- BaltMet Net and Balt Met Promo
For BDF it is important to work closely with the metropolises of the Region since most of the big cities are members of BDF: Copenhagen, Hamburg, Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm city and Stockholm region. Also, the dynamic Øresund region is member of BDF (Malmø, Region Skåne, Region Sjælland and Region Hovedstaden). Therefore, BDF has also invited the Swedish BaltMet Presidency to meet in Vilnius 1-2 June back-to-back.
BDF has also happily joined the EU-financed BaltMet Promo project that endeavours to establish a way to do collaborative promotion for the BSR in the global markets by establishing a transnational and multi-sector marketing community with the aim of attracting investors, tourists, and skilled professionals to the Baltic Sea Region. The starting point of this perspective is the Baltic Sea Region’s metropolises.
Baltic Development Forum, April 2010