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Clean, safe & smart Baltic Sea – Finland's Presidency of the CBSS ended in June

 The Baltic Sea Photo: MFA
The Baltic Sea Photo: MFA

Finland's Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) started on 1 July 2013 and culminated in the Baltic Sea Days 2014 in Turku on 1–5 June 2014. 
Several themed events were organised under the Finnish Presidency, focusing on such cross-cutting matters as coherence, cooperation and continuity in the Baltic Sea region.

Priorities

An important concrete objective is related to the revision of the CBSS priorities, which had been established at the Baltic States Summit held in Riga in 2008. These five priorities were economic development, energy efficiency, sustainable development, education and culture, and civil security.

Regional identity; Sustainable and prosperous region; and Safe and secure Baltic Sea region

As a result of an evaluation and review of the priorities under the Finnish Presidency the following set of new priorities were established:

  • Regional identity
  • Sustainable and prosperous region
  • Safe and secure region.

The revised priorities were adopted by a silent procedure in June 2014 in each of the CBSS Member States.

Goals

The Committee of Senior Officials, groups of specialists and working groups, and intergovernmental networks will continue their work based on these priorities in cooperation with the CBSS Observer States and strategic partners.

In tandem with the reassessment of the priorities, the CBSS countries adopted a document on the implementation of the Vilnius Declaration. This mandate was originally issued by the Foreign Ministerial meeting at Oslo in June 2011, and the negotiations in the Committee of Senior Officials were chaired by Finland.
The Vilnius Declaration, A Vision for the Baltic Sea Region by 2020, adopted in 2010, is linked with the work of several actors in the region.

One of the priorities of Finland's CBSS Presidency was to strengthen cooperation between different actors in the Baltic Sea region.  Special efforts were made to increase cooperation with the Northern Dimension Partnerships, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, and the regional councils in the North. Finland's Presidency of the CBSS partly coincides with its chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.

Turku Baltic Sea Days 2014

Finland contributed to and supported actively the organisation of many sessions during the Turku Baltic Sea Days 2014 event. The two main ones were the Baltic Development Forum Summit Meeting and the Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

In addition to many other events, the Baltic Sea NGO Forum was also arranged in Turku.

The CBSS Committee of Senior Officials also convened for their last session during the Finnish Presidency.

Finland intended to organise a Prime Ministers' CBSS meeting, but it had to be cancelled because of the situation in Ukraine.

Estonia will assume the CBSS Presidency

The CBSS Presidency was transferred to Estonia on 1 July.  The Estonian Presidency has prepared for its term by drafting new priorities.

Events during the Finnish Presidency

Under its CBSS Presidency, Finland highlighted the importance of maritime policy, civil security and people-to-people contacts.  A number of events were organised around these themes - meetings, conferences, seminars and other occasions.
Finland chaired not only the Committee of Senior Officials but also many working groups and cooperated with several different stakeholders with an interest in the Baltic Sea region.

2013
November

  • Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja held a keynote speech at the Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF) in Helsinki on 1 November 2013.

The BLSF, a permanent forum of social dialogue in the Baltic Sea Region, was established in 2011. Trade unions, employer organisations, governments and parliaments from the entire Baltic Sea region take part in the tripartite cooperation. The current membership of the BSLF is 28 member organisations and 9 observer organisations.

  • The Baltic Sea Region Border Control Cooperation (BSRBCC) Heads' Conference was organised at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki on 20–22 November 2013.

The rules of the organisation, prepared during the Finnish Presidency, were adopted unanimously by the Conference. The Presidency of the BSRBCC was taken over by Estonia.

2014
January

The Baltic Sea Shipping conference was held on board M/S Viking Grace on 16 January 2014.

  • The key themes were green technology and the use of alternative fuels in the future.
  • As a way forward, the conference prepared a draft Roadmap for future actions, which proposes different possibilities and avenues for the promotion of green technologies and alternative fuels.
  • The conference was organised in cooperation with HELCOM, the Baltic Development Forum and the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transportation and Logistics (NDPTL). 

February

  • The role of EU traffic and transport corridors was discussed at a seminar held in Helsinki on 13 February.

The seminar was entitled The role of EU transport corridors for enhanced growth and it explored the role of EU traffic and transport corridors from the point of view of, for example, economic growth.

In the seminar, matters were looked at from a clearly international perspective, but the focus was on Finland.  The routes that are being planned or are under construction are important from both national and international viewpoints. New routes in Finland are also a part of the Europe-wide TEN-T networks.

March

  • From 3 to 4 March, an international seminar was held at the Annexe to the Parliament Building  where – based on a report by the Baltic Sea States' members of parliament – energy-efficiency in the Baltic Sea region, the effects of Germany's U-turn in energy issues, and funding mechanisms and projects related to energy-efficiency and green growth were discussed.
  • On 19 March the Baltic Sea States discussed assistance and promotion of the protection of victims of human trafficking in the Baltic Sea region.

The main topics of the event were development of cooperation between guardians of law and social welfare workers, different means of identifying and rehabilitating victims of human trafficking, and the best practices to prevent such problems.

April

  • The Civil Protection Network's annual meeting at Directors-General level was held from 28  to 29 April  in Helsinki.

In a workshop of the Civil Protection Network on 28 November 2013, experts addressed the macro-regional risks related to nuclear and radiation issues and explored opportunities for macro-regional civil protection cooperation within the region.

 The BSMIR final report deals with preparedness for a large-scale maritime accident in the Baltic Sea.
 Photo: Nina Hellström
The BSMIR final report deals with preparedness for a large-scale maritime accident in the Baltic Sea. Photo: Nina Hellström

May

  • The Baltic Sea Maritime Incident Response Survey (BSMIR) published its final report on 13 May.

The objective of the BSMIR project was to review preparedness plans in the Baltic Sea region. The project was funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and implemented by the Finnish Border Guard in cooperation with the Department for Rescue Services of the Ministry of the Interior. 

  • On 20–21 May, the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland organised an international discussion forum on sustainable tourism from the point of view of the economy, culture and environment.
  • The Eastern Viking Forum II focused on the Viking Age and its archaeological finds and non-material cultural heritage in the countries bordering the Baltic Sea. In connection with the Forum, a joint meeting of cultural actors representing the Northern Dimension, the CBSS and the BEAC was organised.

June

  • Intelligent Transport Systems and Services (ITS) in Logistics in the Northern Dimension, Barents and Arctic Area was a seminar held in Helsinki on 18 June.

The seminar was held at the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre and it was part of the 10th ITS European Congress & Exhibition event.

Successful organisation of several events during the Finnish Presidency demanded close and active cooperation with many different actors.  

The Finnish CBSS Presidency team extends their thanks to the Baltic Sea actors for the cooperation during the past year.

 The CBSS Committee of Senior Officials convened seven times under the Finnish Presidency) A section of the last session was held in the middle of the Baltic Sea, at the Bengtskär lighthouse.
Photo: Juho Kivistö
The CBSS Committee of Senior Officials convened seven times under the Finnish Presidency) A section of the last session was held in the middle of the Baltic Sea, at the Bengtskär lighthouse. Photo: Juho Kivistö

More information:

Suomen puheenjohtajuus Itämeren valtioiden neuvostossa 2013–2014The Finnish Presidency of the CBSS 2013-2014, e-publication 

The 16th Baltic Development Forum Summit & 5th Annual Forum of the EUSBSR in Turku 3-4 June, 2014

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