The 17th Baltic Development Forum Summit was held in Copenhagen on 23rd November under the heading “Europe-wide challenges, regional solutions”. The Summit gathered decision makers from business, government and academia across the Baltic Sea region for a one-day compact Summit with a focus on competitiveness and business and investment opportunities in the Baltic Sea Region.
In her opening speech Lene Espersen, chairman of Baltic Development Forum, stressed the need to further strengthen regional cooperation and to set new, ambitious goals for the Baltic Sea Region in order for the region to maintain its current position as a frontrunner in terms of economic growth, innovation and competitiveness. She expressed the hope that the studies published by the Baltic Development Forum would give new concrete ideas and inspiration for regional cooperation. She further highlighted the digital sector as an example of a key growth sector where the Baltic Sea region is world leading but where little progress has been made so far in terms of concrete cross-border digital solutions. Lene Espersen finally called for more Baltic Sea cooperation in key policy areas and stressed that the Baltic Sea Region with the recent political developments in Europe more than ever before needs direction, political commitment and responsibility from political decision makers.
The 2015 State of the Region Report “The Top of Europe – Striving for Direction in a Complex Environment” was presented by authors Dr. Christian Ketels, Harvard Business School, and Helge Pedersen, Nordea Chief Economist. The 12th edition of the report confirms that the Baltic Sea region is still “the top of Europe” in terms of economic performance and competitiveness in a global comparison. In the short term, the perspectives for the economy does not look too bad, although the picture is somewhat mixed as the economy has been improving in some countries, while other countries in the region are struggling.
For the medium term, however, the region is facing a complex set of challenges. While the report confirms the region´s strong competitive position, it also shows signs of erosion as the region continues to lose global market shares and is struggling to attract foreign direct investments. On this background, the report urges decision makers not to be complacent about regional collaboration, and raises the question if the current regional cooperation framework will be sufficient to address the structural challenges in the medium and longer-term.