Baltic Sea Cooperation
Apart from environmental issues, cooperation in the Baltic Sea region covers all collaboration where the aim is to solve problems faced by the region and to develop safe living conditions for citizens of the countries bordering on the Baltic Sea. The sectors encompassed by the cooperation include transport, energy, trade, the economy, tourism, health and innovations.
In many respects, the Baltic Sea region is of major importance for Finland and for Finns. As much as over 80 per cent of our foreign trade is shipped across the Baltic Sea. About half of our import trade and 40 per cent of our export trade is conducted with countries in the Baltic Sea region.
About half of the tourists arriving in Finland come from countries around the Baltic Sea. Equally often, these countries are the destination of the trips abroad taken by Finns. Similarly, about 50 per cent of immigrants come to Finland from the Baltic Sea region. Student exchange and cultural exchange programmes are also proof of the importance of the region for Finland.
Naturally, the Baltic Sea has immeasurable value for Finns in terms of recreation.
Finland’s objectives for Baltic Sea cooperation
Finland’s objectives for Baltic Sea cooperation have been outlined comprehensively in the report “Challenges of the Baltic Sea and Baltic Sea Policy”, issued by the Government in 2009. The report outlines the Government’s measures
- to improve the marine environment of the Baltic Sea,
- to increase the safety of marine traffic and
- to strengthen economic cooperation in the region.
In addition, objectives pertaining to the Baltic Sea region have been recorded in the Government Programme. These concern, for instance, the environment, transport, agriculture, and structural policy.
Finland implements its Baltic Sea policy in broad cooperation with the Baltic Rim countries and takes an active part in cooperation in regional organisations in various sectors and at various levels.
Finland was one of the initiators when the European Union’s first macro-regional strategy (EUSBSR) was prepared for the Baltic Sea region. Finland is committed to the implementation of the strategy objectives at Council level. In addition to the EUSBSR’s own networks, intergovernmental cooperation in the Baltic Sea region is carried out, above all, by means of the following structures:
- The main actor for the protection of the Baltic Sea environment is HELCOM, headquartered in Helsinki. The Baltic Sea Action Plan of HELCOM defines the necessary measures for saving the Baltic Sea.
- The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) promotes stability and welfare in the Baltic Sea region. Finland holds the presidency of the Council from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014.
- The aim of the Northern Dimension is to support stability, welfare and sustainable development in the Baltic Sea region through practical cooperation. It is also a key instrument in the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
- The Baltic Sea Action Summit process (BSAS) gathers together public and private bodies to implement actions that have a positive impact on the state of the Baltic Sea environment.