Board Meeting at the Polish Sky Hall, Gdańsk
Photos: Pomorskie Voivodeship, BSSSC.
Board Meeting February 2020
On 18th and 19th February 2020 the BSSSC Board met for the first time under the Pomorskie Chairmanship.
The participants representing BSSSC regions, Youth and cooperating organizations first of all gathered in the Baltic Sea Culture Centre for a thematic seminar, this time dedicated to New Democracy for Addressing Local and Global Challenges and on the next day for the proper Board meeting.
20. February 2020
The first BSSSC Board meeting under Pomorskie Chairmanship
Mr. Mieczysław Struk – the current BSSSC Chairman introduced invited special guests from Pomorskie Region who participated in both meetings: Mr. Grzegorz Grzelak – deputy President of the Pomorskie Region Assembly, very much involved in the self-governmental reforms of the past and Mr. Jan Kozłowski – former Pomorskie Marshal, a former member of the Committee of the Regions and European Parliament.
Democracy is important
As one of the issues the Pomorskie Region has decided to concentrate during its two-year chairmanship is democracy: what it means today, what challenges it faces, how to remodel it was only too natural to launch the presidency with the seminar devoted to the subject.
In his welcoming speech to the seminar, Mr. Struk emphasized that there are “attempts to find new solutions, to interest as broad participation of citizens in the decision-making as possible, on all levels: probably mostly on the municipal and neighborhood level, but also regionally and for the whole European Union, too. Instruments like citizens’ assemblies, special deliberative panels or using cultural processes or gaming are being implemented in different countries, Gdańsk being one of the very good examples”.
The seminar was therefore an invitation to learn, share and discuss various ways to engage the citizens in policy-making and in general, to be active and involved citizens.
Marcin Gerwin, PhD had a very interesting and informative presentation on “Deliberative democracy: citizens’ assemblies as a way of empowering people on all levels of governance”. Participants learned when and why such an approach can really work in modern policy-making. We were presented with some good examples of such an approach from the municipal level (Gdańsk and some other Polish cities), regional level (the German-speaking community of Belgium ) and country-level (Ireland). Very promising examples of the presented approach are climate assemblies which would be a good way of encouraging decision-makers and citizens to work together with experts on defining concrete means to mitigate and adapt to climate change locally. Ms. Magdalena Zakrzewska-Duda, BSCC talked about "Youth engagement through gaming", practiced by the Baltic Sea Cultural Centre within various projects, showing how modern technology can be used to involve the Youth.
The BSSSC Chairmanship introduced also information on the Conference on the Future of Europe – the initiative that is to bring the European Union closer to the citizens. Finally, there was a good discussion on how the BSSSC regions and BSR countries deal with democracy deficits.
Board Meeting: the BSSSC 2020 TO DO list
The Board meeting on the second day was hosted by the Pomorskie Voivodeship in a beautifully renovated ‘Polish Sky Hall’. Mr. Struk officially welcomed the new BSSSC Board members: Mr. Antanas Kalnius, Board Member and Ms. Klaudija Kionies, Board Civil from Lithuania; and Mr. Ilmar Repalu, Board Member and Ms. Maria Lindbom, Board Civil from Sweden.
The BSSSC Secretariat presented the BSSSC Work Plan, Communication Strategy and Rules of procedure for communication activities for 2020-2021, which were adopted by the Board. The main issues we will be working with are to be those enlisted in the BSSSC Strategy ( Cohesion policy and programs – in particular, Interreg - 2021 – 2027 and beyond (SDGs: 10, 16, 17); Environment, climate, energy and circular economy (SDGs: 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15); Transport and accessibility – transport corridors and clean transport (SDG 9, 11); Maritime policy - Blue Economy and protection of the marine environment (SDGs: 8, 9, 14); Culture and creativity (SDGs: 4, 11, 12, 13); Youth involvement and empowerment – supporting the establishment of a One Youth Platform (SDGs: 4, 10, 16)) as well as the cross-cutting themes, such as The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) and involvement of local and regional authorities and young people in the implementation; Northern Dimension (ND) and cooperation with Russia; or Mitigation and adaptation to the climate crisis.
Ms. Alla Ivanova presented the current state of preparations for the BSSSC Annual Conference to be held on September 29th – October 1st in Kaliningrad. The plan is to discuss the two documents: the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the Strategy for the West-North Russian Regions and see where there are commonly interested in the work for the sake of the BSR. Cooperation instruments like Interreg projects in various fields are to be discussed, too.
Mr. Christopher Lucht, BSSSC Youth Coordinator reported on the current activities contributing to Youth involvement and empowerment, including the Baltic Sea Youth Platform BSYP and Baltic Youth Camp 2020 in Turku. Ms. Krystyna Wróblewska, the new Secretary-General, informed about the plans for the BSSSC Spring Youth Event, which is scheduled for 19-21 April 2020 in Gdańsk and which is to deal with the issue of intergenerational solidarity in the sphere of climate actions.
Mr. Matti Lipsanen briefed the participants about Interreg BSR 2021-2027 programming and pointed out the issues which hamper the process. Mr. Reiner Kneifel-Haverkamp commented on the actual situation regarding the MFF and Cohesion Policy.
Ms. Marta Czarnecka-Gallas presented the status of the EUSBSR Action Plan revision and proposed the BSSSC involvement during the EUSBSR Annual Forum in Turku. The proposal for organizing a workshop together with UBC and Euroregion Baltic was welcomed.
Mr. Stefan Musiolik updated the participants on cultural issues and drew attention to the CBSS-led project Baltic Sea Cultural Cities.
Ms. Anna Drążek, Director of the Pomorskie Regional EU Office, who acts now as the BSSSC Brussels Antenna presented the most important EU – related issues Brussels, including the priorities of the new EU Commission, the ongoing work on the MFF and selected actions within the maritime policy as well as work of the Committee of the Regions.
The Board had also the opportunity to listen to the presentations from two other BSR organizations: Euroregion Baltic represented by Ms. Magda Magda Leszczyna-Rzucidło, Head of ERB International Permanent Secretariat and Union of Baltic Cities represented by Mr. Paweł Żaboklicki, Secretary-General, Union of the Baltic Cities Secretariat.
The next Board meeting is scheduled for 29-30 April 2020 and will take place in Malmo, Sweden.