The Three Seas Initiative (3SI) is an economic cooperation platform launched by the presidents of the region’s countries and inaugurated at the first 3SI Summit in Croatia on 25 August 2016. The 3SI brings together twelve EU Member States located between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas – Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The initiative has an important role to play in strengthening cooperation between countries in the Central and Eastern Europe. The initiative is designed to develop major physical infrastructure projects and reduce connectivity gaps in the energy, transport and digital networks on the EU’s north-south axis.
The 3SI has the potential to strengthen regional security, promote economic growth and competitiveness, as well as EU-level cohesion and transatlantic cooperation links. The continued participation of 3SI partners – the US, Germany and the European Commission – in the 3SI is considered to be of strategic importance. The initiative is an instrument complementary to the EU strategies and policies. This is evidenced by the close involvement of the European Commission in the initiative and its participation in the 3SI summits.
Seven 3SI summits have been held so far: in Croatia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Estonia, Bulgaria, and Latvia. The 3SI Summit and Business Forum on 6-7 September 2023 will be hosted by Romania.
Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund
The economic dimension of the initiative is represented by the 3SI Investment Fund (the Fund). The Fund has been devised to provide a financial platform for the development of infrastructure projects in the energy, transport and digital communications sectors thereby promoting the region’s economic growth and cooperation opportunities.
The Fund is an instrument that complements funding mobilised by the participating states and the EU towards the implementation of infrastructure projects. It supports engagement with the 3SI states, international financial institutions as well as private capital and is based on commercial principles.
In 2018, during the 3SI Summit in Bucharest, the Letter of Intent was signed on the establishment of the Three Seas Investment Fund. The Fund was officially registered on 29 May 2019.
On 27 February 2020, Riga hosted the Fund’s conference bringing together representatives and decision makers from 3SI participating States, as well as members of Latvia’s business community.
On 7 May 2020, the Government of Latvia passed a decision in support of a contribution by the JSC Development Finance Institution ALTUM to the Fund.
On 11 September 2020, the shareholders’ meeting of JSC Development Finance Institution ALTUM approved making a contribution to the Fund.
On 16 September2020, JSC Development Finance Institution ALTUM officially joined the Fund as a core sponsor.
To date, contributions to the Fund have been made by Poland, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania. Croatia, and Slovenia. On 20 June 2022, during the Riga Summit and Business Forum, the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced its commitment to investing in the 3SI Investment Fund.
The Fund has invested in four national infrastructure projects in the region until now. Currently, the Fund continues evaluating projects submitted by companies from countries in the region in the energy, transport and digital communications sectors.
The Investment Adviser to the Fund is Amber Infrastructure Group.
Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum in Riga
On 20-21 June 2022, Riga hosted the seventh Summit of the 3SI and its fourth Business Forum. During its 3SI Presidency, Latvia highlighted the initiative’s potential to attract additional investments for the development of infrastructure connectivity in the region, thus contributing to EU-level cohesion, competitiveness of the region and the strengthening of the transatlantic link.
The 3SI Summit was opened on June 20 by Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia. As part of the summit, 3SI Heads of State, the partners of the Initiative (the U.S., Germany and the European Commission), and guests of the Riga summit also had closed meetings. The Japanese and British foreign ministers attended the 3SI Summit as guests. As a special guest to the summit, the President of Ukraine delivered a speech in a remote format.
The 3SI Business Forum was opened on June 20 by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš. Discussions between high-level national and international institutions and members of the business community took place over two days. The Forum discussed the development of infrastructure connectivity in the 3SI region, the importance of attracting investments to the energy, transport and digital sectors, as well as the development of new models of cooperation.
In the light of Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine and the current geopolitical situation, internationally recognised sectoral experts discussed the region’s economic development trends, the investment environment, diversification of energy supply routes and sources, innovative solutions for the transformation of mobility and logistics, as well as the role of digitalisation in strengthening the region’s resilience and promoting sustainable development.
The 3SI is a strategically important cooperation platform designed to enhance connectivity of the region’s transport, energy and digitalisation infrastructure. Participants of the Riga 3SI Summit and Business Forum included leaders of the 3SI participating countries, as well as the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, and the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Scott Nathan.
The 3SI Business Forum brought together around 700 participants in person from 37 countries representing the investment and private sector of 3SI and other countries, while 103 participants from 18 countries participated remotely. The largest number of visitors was from Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, the U.S., Bulgaria, the UK, and Romania.
The Riga Summit and Business Forum took place in a very complex geopolitical environment and provided a platform for meaningful discussions on future cooperation processes at the regional, EU and transatlantic level.
Priorities of Latvia for the Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum
- High-level participation of the 3SI countries and partners in the 3SI Summit and Business Forum in Riga.
- Strengthening of the 3SI Investment Fund.
- Promoting cooperation with like-minded countries outside the 3SI region.
- Organising of a business forum focussed on the mobilisation of investments for infrastructure projects in the areas of transport, energy and digital communication.
- A business forum providing a lasting contribution to the development of the investment, transport, energy and digital communications sectors in Latvia and the region as a whole.
- Raising the profile of the 3SI.
- Promoting engagement with civil society in the 3SI region.
- Enhancing the 3SI’s parliamentary dimension.
- Development of cooperation between Chambers of Trade and Industry of the 3SI countries.
Results of Rīga Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum
- The declaration of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) on a capital commitment to the 3SI Fund in the amount of USD 300 million.
- Announcement on granting Ukraine the special status of a participating partner, and setting the objective of closer involvement of Ukraine in the 3SI’s activities and infrastructure projects.
- Strong support from the strategic partners of the 3SI (the U.S., Germany and the European Commission); support for the 3SI expressed by Japan and the United Kingdom.
- Announcement on investments from the 3SI Investment Fund in the fourth 3SI project.
- Participation in the 3SI Business Forum by international institutions – IMF, EC, OECD, EIB, EBRD, NIB, JBIC, development banks of 3SI countries and partners, and a broad audience of representatives from the business and investment sectors.
- The Summit being attended in person by around 700 participants from 37 countries; 108 participants from 18 countries took part remotely.
- An announcement by Google on committing a grant of USD 5 million to support civil society organisations which are contributing to the development of people’s digital skills and strengthening competitiveness of the region as a whole.
- Official support to the Initiative expressed by the AmCham (the American Chamber of Commerce) network in the region’s countries.
- The List of Priority Interconnection Projects comprising 91 projects of 3SI countries published on the official 3SI website.
- Ahead of the Riga 3SI Summit and during the event, meetings held between Members of Parliaments of the 3SI participating countries and representatives of civil society and chambers of commerce from the 3SI region. The meetings demonstrated support for the idea and objectives of the 3SI.
- Extensive coverage of the 3SI Summit and Business Forum (thereby of Riga, Latvia and the 3SI region as a whole) in international media. Participation of more than 100 media representatives in the Business Forum.
Coordination of the Three Seas Initiative in Latvia
The structure of the 3SI envisages that each participating State designates a national coordinator. The coordinator’s role is to ensure external political communication between participating States and to coordinate the work of the institutions involved. At the Cabinet meeting of 7 May 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was entrusted with the duties of the National Coordinator for the 3SI.
In accordance with the said decision, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall perform the duties of the coordinating secretariat for the 3SI. The Cabinet meeting on 11 August 2020 approved an informative report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the establishment of the 3SI Co-ordination Task Force. Task Force was set up pursuant to the Foreign Minister’s Order of 10 September 2020. The Head of the Task force is the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the Deputy Head of the Task force is the Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Economics.
The 3SI Task Force is composed of representatives from the following institutions: the Chancery of the President; the Prime Minister’s Office; the Ministry of Defence; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Economics; the Ministry of Finance; the Ministry of Transport; the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development; the Development Financial Institution ALTUM; the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia (LBAS); the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA); as well as the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
The responsibilities entrusted to the Task Force are as follows: to provide recommendations for a successful involvement of Latvia in the 3SI; to make preparations for participation in events organised under the 3SI; to co-ordinate harmonisation and promotion of interests of Latvia within the framework of the 3SI; and to ensure mutual exchange of information on current 3SI-related issues.
Read more about the 3SI here: https://3seas.eu/
Read more about the 3SI Investment Fund here: https://3siif.eu/