The Nordic Council of Ministers has left a very clear imprint on the new EU Baltic Sea Strategy, which the EU Commission presented at a series of events in member countries on Wednesday.
The strategy has four main objectives: to improve the marine environment, enhance prosperity, make the region more accessible and attractive and improve safety and security.
"We will help implement certain parts of the Baltic Strategy and do our bit to ensure its overall success. The Nordic Council of Ministers has been working with other organizations in the Baltic Region for many years, and we have a unique network covering the Nordic countries, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and North-West Russia," said the Secretary the Council of Ministers, Halldór Ásgrímsson.Earlier this year, the Nordic Council of Ministers submitted proposals for the content of the strategy and suggested how the Nordic Region can help the EU achieve its objectives.
"The Nordic Council of Ministers has exerted considerable influence on the strategy. We consider the Council of Ministers an important partner, especially when it comes to implementing the projects outlined in the strategy," said Ann-Kerstin Myleus, Deputy Director of the European Commission's Directorate General for Regional Policy. The Nordic Council of Ministers will have the main responsibility for setting up a fund for innovation and research in the Baltic Sea Region, for example, and is also mentioned in a number of other contexts in the new EU strategy.
The Nordic Council of Ministers can also help introduce a more flexible single market around the Baltic Sea by stepping up its efforts to abolish obstacles to cross-border freedom of movement in the Nordic countries. The Baltic Sea Strategy describes such obstacles as an impediment to prosperity in the region.
The initiative for the EU Baltic Sea Strategy was taken in 2006. The Baltic will be a top priority for the Swedish Presidency of the EU, which commences in July.