On 4 June 2008, the Baltic Sea States Heads of Government Summit working session adopted a declaration on the reform of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), in which the long-term priorities of the organisation are defined, and a document of the chairman's conclusions that reflects CBSS accomplishments and activities under the Latvian presidency. Future prospects in the priority areas are also defined.
In the coming years, the priorities of the CBSS will be as follows:
- environment (including climate change),
- economic development (including innovation, competitiveness, a stimulating business environment, business promotion, sea economy, transport, logistics etc)
- energy (including energy security, efficiency, renewable resources, energy impact on environment),
- education and culture (including the concept of the EuroFaculty, mobility of students and academics, a raising of the science and study network capacity, and the creation of a regional identity),
- civil security and the humanitarian dimension (including fight against human trafficking, protection of child rights, nuclear security, youth affairs, the promotion of tolerance).
The priorities will be implemented by expert groups, made up of representatives of state institutions and NGOs, with a definite mandate, tasks, and timelines. The present working groups will be dissolved or reformed into expert groups. Proposals and decisions on the establishment of expert groups will be accepted by the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials.
The declaration also stipulates the restructuring of the organisation's Permanent International Secretariat with the aim of promoting the attraction of funding, project elaboration and implementation. The staff of the secretariat will be involved in the work with particular projects and initiatives, which are related to the realisation of the CBSS priorities.
The priorities defined and the methods of their implementation will be reviewed and re-examined on a regular basis.
The declaration says that further on, the concepts of 'special participants' and 'strategic partners' will be joined in a single term: 'strategic partners'. This will encourage mutual co-operation and facilitate the coordination or various activities, especially in the priority directions.
The CBSS will continue to harmonise its undertakings with the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Artic Council, and the Northern Dimension partnerships, as well as to deepen its co-operation with EU programmes, including, the European Neighbourhood Policy, and other international programmes. The participation by the European Commission in the CBSS will ensure a regular exchange of information with regard to the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
During the next – the Danish – presidency, these decisions will need to be reinforced in the statutes of the CBSS and the CBSS Secretariat, as well as in other rules and regulations.
In addition, the HELCOM* Baltic Sea Action Plan has been commended in the document of the CBSS chairman's conclusions. The objective of the plan is to renew the ecology of the Baltic Sea by 2021, and its implementation is one of the political priorities of the region. Such significant issues as marine security, marine policy, and a sustainable management of the Baltic Sea are also incorporated in the document. Likewise, co-operation as part of the Baltic 21** is commended. It is expected that the EU Marine Strategy Directive will be implemented effectively and that it will make a positive impact on environmental protection in the Baltic Sea. In the conclusions, the Heads of Government note with satisfaction the successful activities of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership implementing various projects and attracting funding from different sources. The Heads of Government also encourage the CBSS and its strategic partners to pay special attention to climate change in the region and to mitigate its adverse effects.
The officials recognise in the conclusions that research, development, and innovation need to be raised to a priority level, thus promoting the competitiveness and growth of the region. Special attention should be accorded to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, the field of maritime economy, transport and logistics, science parks and industrial clusters, as well as to the advance of business environment and labour market.
The Heads of Government underline that stable and secure energy supplies are important for the economic growth and welfare in the region. Increased effort for the development of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency is needed.
The meeting of ministers for energy due to take place in autumn will to set appropriate benchmarks for the energy co-operation in the next three-year period 2009 to 2011. In this respect, sustaining integration of the energy markets and infrastructure, as well as ensuring a competitive, stable and secure energy supply in the region are of a particular importance. The Baltic Sea Region Energy Co-operation (BASREC) is encouraged to put an increasing focus on the achievement of the required objectives and results.
In the sector of education, which is an investment for the region's competitiveness, attention needs to be accorded the promotion of co-operation between higher education institutions, enhancement of the curricula, facilitation of the mobility of students and the academic staff, improvement of the capacity of science networks, and the development of adult education and life-long education.
The Heads of Government also stressed the significance of co-operation in culture that encourages the preservation of cultural heritage, the strengthening of regional identity, the growth of creative industries, cultural tourism, protection of underwater cultural heritage, fight against the illegal export of cultural artifacts and 'black archaeology'. The officials commended the co-operation as part of ARS BALTICA, the Northern Dimension Framework with regard to cultural collaboration, the initiative of the Baltic Sea Festival, and, finally, the cultural and public diplomacy project of the Latvian presidency - Balticness.
The officials positively evaluated the forms of co-operation aimed at fighting organised crime, human trafficking, protecting child rights, as well as commended the joint efforts to ensure nuclear and radiation safety and the fight against illegal migration. They reiterated their commitment to the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being and took note of the study on corruption prevention in the public administration of the CBSS member states.
The Heads of Government also accentuate the joint efforts in the area of youth policy, promoting voluntary work, youth businesses, and research in the topics of youth and intercultural education.
The working session concludes the Latvian presidency of the CBSS, which will now be taken over by Denmark.
The next CBSS Heads of Government Summit will take place in 2010 in Lithuania.
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Final documents of the 7th Baltic Sea States Heads of Government Summit
- Declaration on the reform of the Council of the Baltic Sea States
- Document of the chairman's conclusions
More information on Latvian Presidency and Summit: http://www.am.gov.lv/en/cbss/