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Euroregion Baltic (ERB) 20th Anniversary conference

After twenty years of cross border cooperation in the south east Baltic Sea Region, the 20th Anniversary Conference held 15.02.2018 was a good opportunity to look back and forward: To what extent did the hopes and intentions of the ERB come true? And which path should they take in the future?

The Anniversary conference was titled Partnership for the future - Solving Baltic Sea Cooperation Rubik's Cube, and naturally, the BSSSC were invited to discuss the role of cross border cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) with current and former board members of the ERB, a representative from CPMR Baltic Sea Commission, and representatives from the Polish regional and city level.

Mission completed?

In the light of the recent decommissioning of the Baltic Development Forum and reflections on the vast improvements the last twenty years, the question arose: Have we done what is needed? Krystyna Wroblewska, Board Civil at BSSSC and member of the ERB Secretariat, shared a personal story of the days when Poland was a country with closed borders. Today, the region is safer, more prosperous and people cross and work across borders with their friendly neighbours. With a much-improved situation in the BSR, do we then still need these forms of cooperation? Without exception, the speakers, both civil servants and politicians, emphasised the need to continue the cooperation. Ms. Ann Irene Saeternes, Secretary General of BSSSC, underlined that we need more cooperation now than we did a few years ago.

­- The last years we have seen a development that has almost taken us back to square one. Rising xenophobia and extremism being just few of the challenges. We need more cooperation now because we need to build understanding for each other to secure a peaceful and prosperous region. The mission is not completed - there is still a way to go.

Solving the Baltic Sea Region’s Rubik’s cube

For new comers to BSR, the vast number of different organisations may seem overwhelming. Is it beneficial having multiple organisations? Too many cooks spoil the broth, said one politician and argued that some of the organisations should be merged or dismantled. The consensus was however that the organisations are needed.

Ms. Saeternes said on the matter that:

- We are many organisations; we need to put our efforts together to build on our different strengths and make full use of our capacities jointly – to move things forward.  There are many new rubrics cubes, and they are continuously changing forms.

The conclusion of the seminar was that we have come a long way, but cross-border cooperation is still very important.

- We need to cooperate more, talk more and do more together. We are stronger when we come together with other BSR entities and speak with a unified voice, said Ms. Wroblewska.

Several speakers, among them Akko Karlsson, ERB President (Vice-Chair of the Board of Regional Council in Kalmar County, Sweden) said that organizations such as ERB and BSSSC could improve their working contacts with the relevant groups/entities of Committee of The Regions and the European parliament by working more actively with their regional European offices.

See the full agenda for the conference here.


19. February 2018

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