Background information

The purpose of the seminar is to discuss the soft law nature of CBSS and the changed circumstances in the Baltic Sea region and the challenges that these issues pose for the organisation. Here we wish to give you a brief account on what will be discussed more specifically.


The absence of institutionalized legislative bodies with authoritative power, along with the complexity of transboundary policy challenges, have created space for new types of governance and cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. Today, there is a great number of governmental and non-governmental institutions and actors, including the EU, involved in Baltic Sea area governance and cooperation.

One of these actors, the CBSS, was established in 1992 to provide an overall forum of cooperation across old political boundaries in the Baltic Sea Area. Since then, all Member States of the CBSS except Russia have become Member States of the EU or, in the case of Iceland and Norway, closely associated with it.    

While having an institutional structure, including a permanent secretariat in Stockholm, the CBSS has remained a “soft law” organization based on political rather than legal commitments and functioning as a hub of information, coordination and studies of relevance for the Baltic Sea Area rather than a body taking decisions of an operational nature.

In order to assess the work and role of the CBSS and come up with recommendations in that regard, an independent group of wise persons started its work in autumn 2017. The group, under the name of CBSS Vision Group, submitted a report in May 2018. The report was discussed at a High-Level Meeting on 18 June 2018 in Stockholm, and the CBSS Latvian Presidency, which will commence its work on 1 July 2018, will take the recommendations forward to strengthen the organization and its work beyond 2020.

The purpose of this half-day conference organized by the Baltic Area Legal Studies (BALEX) competence cluster, in cooperation with EUSBSR HA Neighbours, is to discuss the challenges facing the CBSS and Baltic Sea region cooperation and to share information about the CBSS in the light of the report of the Vision Group, taking into account Baltic Sea Area governance structures more generally.

More information about the CBSS vision work is available here.

The registration for the event is now closed.

Please contact Juhani Ailio ( if you have any questions.