Sea change - the European Union's Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region could lead to greater regional solidarity


The EU is currently working on a strategy to improve the integration of Baltic Sea countries, which could see greater coordination of fishing, better border guards and stronger energy connections. The document, known as the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, is to be presented to the European Council in June. It is expected to be a priority for the Swedish EU Presidency, which launches in July.

The strategy is meant to tackle issues like pollution in the Baltic, as well as the region's remoteness from Europe's energy supplies and the wealth gap between eastern and western Baltic nations.

"It is the first time we explore and develop an EU macro-regional strategy, and it can serve as an example for further developing regional strategies in other EU areas such as the Mediterranean and the Black Sea," said Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren.

A number of projects proposed by the strategy will be paid for through existing funds. For example, €4 (zUS.27) billion was allotted last week to improve Europe's energy network starting in 2010. According to Swedish estimates, around €2 (zĹ‚.9.13) billion could be saved due to  improved fishing and tourism if nutrient pollution was addressed.

Another proposal involves a ring of energy-efficient sustainable cities around the Baltic. These would be powered by plant biomass facilities and linked offshore wind farms such as Germany's Kriegers Flak. In addition, more liquefied natural gas would be shipped to coal-dependent Poland and undersea power cables would link the Baltic states' energy markets. "If we agree on a pilot project for the Baltic Sea I can see things happening much faster," Carlgren added. "For example, I see a great possibility in the near future for banning phosphorus in detergents for the EU countries around the Baltic Sea." (Reuters)


Source:  Warsaw Business Journal

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