Balancing Regional and European Integration and promoting Green and Smart growth in the Baltic Sea Region will be the main focus of BDF’s 2011 activities.
Baltic Development Forum 2011 Strategy
In 2011, all the countries of the Baltic Sea Region are expected to exit the economic crisis and to present sustainable growth rates. The future competitiveness of the region will be related to smart and green growth, which generally represents the headline of BDF’s other activities throughout 2011. For BDF smart growth includes issues such as innovation, research, mobilization of talents and the digital internal market. Green growth covers issues related to energy and water in particular, and clean tech in general. The Green, Smart and Inclusive growth agenda are the headlines of the new Europe 2020 strategy of the EU, which was adopted earlier this year.
As in the previous years, BDF will still be deeply involved in the EU strategy and the discussion on the macro-regional strategy in Europe.The strategy represents and provides a unique opportunity to make new leaps forward in regional integration and in promoting the Baltic Sea Region in the EU and globally. Now the European Council has asked for a review of the EU Strategy for the BSR in 2011, and this together with the Annual Forum and BDF’s Summit, will take place during the EU Presidency of Poland, in the second half of the year.
Since the BDF Summit will take place in Poland, there will be particulat attention on regional cooperation with Poland, which is an important regional partner who represents a promising and attractive market. The role as a neutral stakeholder forum for business and politics should be further strengthened in connection with the major BDF events and everyday tasks. BDF seen as a facilitator of the inclusion of the private sector widens business related networking, which could entail new possibilities and play an important role in regional growth.
Priorities for 2011
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:
BDF Summit 2011 in Gdansk, Poland (24-26 October)
For the first time, Baltic Development Forum Summit will be organized together with Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The joined event will take place on the 24-26 October in Gdansk, Poland. BDF will therefore be working in close cooperation with the Polish Government, the Polish EU Presidency, regional authorities in Poland and the European Commission, DG region. This provides great meeting opportunities for BDF and all regional stakeholders since the summit will receive wide and high-level attention. Moreover, as a part of the evaluation process, the regional stakeholders will be invited to the 2nd Annual Forum of the strategy in order to voice their views on the earlier adopted strategy.
Building bridges to Russia
BDF should work to ensure closer links with Russia. This dimension was clearly identified as a priority area during the meeting of BDF’s advisory board in June 2010. Also BDF will place relations with Russia higher on the agenda and follow up on the activities in Kaliningrad in 2010 and expand the network and projects to other parts of the Russian Baltic Sea region. All parts of the BSR have improved relations with Russia and the new approach should be exploited.
• Report on cooperation with North-West Russia
A new project that regards cooperation with Russia has seen a first breakthrough. Authors have been found and the timing of the project is planned to be October 2011. Partners in North-West district of Russia have also shown interest as well as researchers within the Northern Dimension Institute.
• Energy: Kaliningrad report
Just like last year, the regional integration of Kaliningrad is highly relevant in terms of energy planning. Follow-up activities to the Kaliningrad report on sustainable energy scenarios for the region will be made under the Northern Dimension Framework. An introductory proposal project has been presented to the European Commission delegation in Moscow and currently engages partners from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, NCM and Kaliningrad. BDF will continue cooperating with members on identifying future actions in the area of energy and will follow closely on that sector to work on the further integration in the Baltic Sea area and Europe.
Regional Growth & Branding
BDF should continue evaluating its role and options within the EU strategy. BDF has already several roles in connection with competitiveness, branding, place promotion, regional identity.
The topic is an obvious importance to the cooperation on the Baltic Sea area and the business perspective to the efforts on improving the marine environment in the Baltic Sea is needed. Presently, the possible ways of contributing to the agenda are being explored by BDF and the members. The starting-point is planned to be the Oresund-region with the ambition to expand the perspective to the Baltic Sea Region and the global level.
• BaltMet Promo
BDF plays a role as a horizontal coordinator of the strategy in relation to building a regional identity and place branding. In 2011 BDF will organize two additional policy roundtables as well as will elaborate a database and an ambassadors’ network. The project aims at improving cooperation in the field of Talents, Investment promotion and Tourism.
• Mobility of talents and knowledge
BDF has been involved in this area for some time and held a conference on the topic on 23 November 2010 in CopenhageniIn cooperation with the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Danish Presidency of Nordic Council of Ministers. The issue of mobility is very important in order to improve the conditions for knowledge-workers: students, researchers, teachers and entrepreneurs and BDF will continue to have a focus on this area.
At the last two Summits, BDF has hosted sessions with Baltic Sea region researchers with a view to establish a network and to improve the political dialogue on key political developments in the region. The aim is to have a semi-permanent regional think-tank that can animate the debate and make input to the EU strategy for the region. The Think-Tank will present its first report in October 2011.
Digital Action Plan for the Baltic Sea Region
• Digital Internal Market
During the 2010 Summit, the digital agenda was highly promoted. It reflects the EUs ambitions to profit more on Europe World-leadership in the area. If barriers are removed, this sector could make huge contributions to growth in Europe. Since Northern Europe has strong clusters in this field, the Baltic Sea region could press hard on this agenda and BDF could make a contribution to this process. That topic will be high on the 2011 BDF Summit. Together with the Copenhagen Economics and the Estonian Government the idea of creating a BSR Digital Action Programme has been formulated. The aim is to present proposals in the field at the BDF Summit in Gdansk.