Today the European Council is discussing the future growth strategy for Europe, EU2020. BDF presents a regional input with the report Going for Green Growth in the Baltic Sea Region.
Green Growth in the Baltic Sea Region: EU2020 Challenges – Regional Solutions
Is it possible to define a common growth strategy “EU2020” for Europe’s 27 member countries? Can one common strategy enable the EU to mobilise all its instruments and unblock the potential for growth? Today the European Council is discussing the EU2020 strategy and how to tackle the financial crisis following the economic and financial crisis in Greece.
To Baltic Development Forum it seems obvious that the general principles for achieving growth in Europe need to be complemented with regional initiatives in Europe. The economic realities and conditions are very different in Europe and regional initiatives can facilitate common solution and avoid that the EU’s regions are moving apart.
The report Going for Green Growth in the Baltic Sea Region published by Baltic Development Forum gives recommendations as to how growth can be achieved in one region of the EU – the Baltic Sea Region – by combining the EU2020 framework with regional policies. Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region is presently making new headway due to the adoption of the first mega-regional strategy within the EU. The Baltic Sea Region can be a pilot region in many areas and the report recommends i.e. that the following concrete initiatives can create stronger growth in the region:
Innovation Policy Priorities
- Deepening of the digital internal market – the Baltic Sea Region could lead efforts to break down barriers in an area of great to the industry in the region.
- Cluster areas of excellence and societal should be prioritised in the selection of national and cross-border research projects in a world of specialisation and competition for top talent.
- A minimum percentage of the total national research budgets in the region within a broad research area should to be subject to international competition allowing other Baltic Sea countries to bid.
- More autonomy for research institutions to recruit researchers, define competitive wage conditions for top talent and collaborate with other institutions.
- Students in further education should be allowed to bring along student grants as well as tuition costs when they travel abroad.
- A common green card scheme for highly specialized workers: once joint criteria full-filled, job access to the entire region is assured. To attract top talent they need to see a greater merit in applying for a work permit which allows them to work in the entire region rather than just one, typically rather small country.
Energy Policy Priorities
- The Baltic Sea region commits itself to a joint implementation of the EU directive on renewable energy. The prospective agreement between Norway and Sweden of joint implementation of EU renewable energy directive could be extended to the whole area as a step towards a wider EU reform. 5 billion € can be saved through closer energy planning.
- Insuring implementation of electricity grid investments plans for the region.
- Strongly recommending the Transmission System Operators of the region to play an active and central role in the integration of power markets in the region.
Sustainable Transport Priorities
- Progress on Green Corridors that should stay high on the regional transport agenda by identifying the most important links through the region that connect with customers and suppliers in neighboring countries.
- Year-by-year review of progress in breaking down the numerous barriers to internal transport in the region is initiated.
- Stakeholders (transport users and producers) to be involved in setting priorities for the region.
About the Report
The report is prepared by Copenhagen Economics (Managing Economist Helge Sigurd Næss-Schmidt and Partner Martin Hvidt Thelle) and sponsored by The Danish Industry Foundation. The report was Launched at the Baltic Development Forum Summit 2010 held in Vilnius 1-2 June. It is based on regional studies including reports issues by Baltic Development Forum.