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Centrum Balticum’s projects listed as good practices in the new European Commission's report on the macro-regional strategies

On January 29, 2019, European Commission published a new report on the implementation of EU macro-regional strategies. The report looks into the present state, success and challenges of the four EU strategies’ implementation. Various Centrum Balticum’s projects have been listed as good practices and examples in the report.

EU’s macro-regional strategies act as political platforms that strengthen cooperation between the states and promote better multi-sectoral, multi-country and multi-level governance in the European Union.

To this date, there are four macro-regional strategies (MRS) in the EU:

  • EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR; 2009)
  • EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR; 2010)
  • EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR; 2014)
  • EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP; 2016)

EUSBSR was launched in 2009 as the first macro-regional strategy in the history of the European Union, therefore, it remains to be one of the most developed ones. It was adopted as an attempt of organizing better governance and solving emerging issues common to all the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea. The EUSBSR unites 8 EU Member States, representing 80 million inhabitants, which is nearly 16% of the EU population.

Centrum Balticum’s projects well represented in the report

One of the success points of EUSBSR during the recent years is its increasing visibility. According to the latest Eurobarometer on “Citizens’ Awareness and perceptions of EU regional policy”, the highest level of awareness of existence of EUSBSR was recorded in Finland (60% of respondents), Estonia (51%) and Sweden (51%). They are followed by Latvia (46%), Lithuania (31%), Poland (31%), Denmark (25%) and Germany (16%) among the rest of the states participating in the Strategy. Nevertheless, EUSBSR stays the most recognizable MRS in the EU in comparison with the other three macro-regional strategies.

One of the Centrum Balticum’s projects Let’s Communicate! has been highlighted in the report as a good practice for contributing to raising the awareness of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The project supports and reflects on EUSBSR developments in various communication channels, provides communication tools and support to the EUSBSR stakeholders, as well as reaches out to the new target groups important for the Strategy.

Another project highlighted in the report, ECOPRODIGI, directly contributes to EUSBSR “Save the Sea” objective by reducing ecological footprint of transport vessels through digitalization, therefore, supporting Baltic Sea region in becoming a front-runner in maritime industry digitalisation and clean shipping.

Last, but not least, the report mentions importance of cooperation between the member states of the Strategy and other countries. EUSBSR Horizontal Action Neighbours (HA Neighbours), jointly coordinated by Centrum Balticum, City of Turku and Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Secretariat, creates benefit to the Strategy by maintaining and increasing a network of stakeholders from neighbouring non-EU countries (e.g. South-West Russia, Belarus, Norway, Iceland), in order to create a positive environment for more productive cooperation within the macro-region.

Challenges to overcome for EUSBSR

Among the challenges of EUSBSR implementation mentioned in the report is the funding system, which lacks the proper focus on the projects contributing to achieving the goals of the Strategy. Another concern is uneven and/or poor representation of some of the member countries in the Strategy, as well as the need for better political involvement and commitment. Finally, another challenge is too broad scope of targets in the Action Plan of the Strategy, therefore, it might lack strategic focus and needs to be further optimized.

Action Plan for the EU Strategy of the Baltic Sea Region is to be revised during the year of 2019, based on the feedback and input from various stakeholders. Together with upcoming new EU funding period for 2021-2027 this creates an opportunity to better identify the focus areas of the Strategy, as well as to better plan upcoming calls for EU funding.

You can read the full report on the implementation of EU macro-regional strategies here.

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