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Finalised projects: 90
EUR committed: 215.0 mln
Main project outputs > 280
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Monitoring Committee updated on EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

At its meeting in Oslo, on 15 September, the Monitoring Committee members received latest information about the preparation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. They further discussed how the programme could contribute to implementing the EU Strategy.

According to the European Commission's representative in the Committee, Ulla Ropponen, to date 56 out of 78 designated "flagship projects" of the Strategy's Action Plan found leaders which she rated a success. She further reported that several coordinators of thematic "priority areas" of the Strategy took up work. Usually, national authorities act as coordinator for a specific "priority area" for the overall Baltic Sea region. The first step now was to meet and discuss what coordinators could do to bring flagship project leaders together and support their work. As requested by many Member States, the European Commission was closely involved in all these activities. In 2010, the first annual meeting of stakeholders of the Strategy will be organised to check progress made.

She also stated that at European level, this first macro-regional EU Strategy has raised a surprisingly high interest from other European areas. The EU Strategy seemed to have already raised the status of the Baltic Sea region in Europe, and other areas were eager to follow.

Ulf Savbäck as Swedish member in the Monitoring Committee emphasized the efforts of the Swedish EU presidency towards making the Strategy a success. He pointed out that the negotiations about the management structure of the Strategy were about to come to an end. So far, every country had appointed a national coordinator of the Strategy and its Action Plan. The coordinators will act as a "High Level Group" steering the implementation of the Action Plan. If everything moves according to schedule, the European Council will adopt the Strategy as planned, and before the end of the year.

Susanne Scherrer and Eeva Rantama of the Joint Technical Secretariat (JTS) reported that first leaders of flagship projects had approached the JTS asking for funding opportunities from the Baltic Sea Region programme, and they expected more to come. As the objectives of the EU Strategy are largely overlapping with the programme's priorities, the Baltic Sea Region programme appears to be a very suitable tool to co-finance flagship projects. The JTS is also contributing to a working group on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region, coordinated by the Interact Programme's Turku office. The working group's objective is to initiate closer cooperation among the different kinds of EU programmes in the area - one of the most hoped-for "spin-off" effects of the Strategy.

Not only other programmes, but also international financing institutions such as the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) should be much better linked into the implementation of investments planned by many of the EU projects. The Baltic Sea Region programme will take a pioneer's role here. Petra Panyi of the Joint Technical Secretariat presented the "Guidance Note" for project owners to the Monitoring Committee explaining what type of loan schemes exist and how to access them. In close cooperation with NIB and EIB, the JTS will also organise a workshop in early 2010 for interested project owners.

The Monitoring Committee approved the activities presented and decided to discuss further steps at its upcoming Task Force meeting in October. The Norwegian MC members, among those Arve Skjerpen as the acting chairperson of the MC, said they would like to see the Norwegian financing scheme for the new EU Member States be closer linked to the implementation of the Strategy as several of the priority areas were overlapping with those of the Norwegian funding instrument. Until now, about 300 Million Euros were allocated to the four EU Member States of the Baltic Sea region, and for the new funding period 2009 - 2013, Norway would provide at least the same amount.

Snapshots from the MC meeting

From left: Eeva Rantama (JTS), Arve Skjerpen (Norway, MC co-chair) and Susanne Scherrer (JTS)

Norwegian delegation: Odd Godal (left) and Ann Irene Saeternes

Lithuanian delegation: Irena Simeniene (left, MC Chair) and Diana Cilciute-Zaleckiene


published 21.09.2009