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29.11.2013
The South Baltic Annual Conference 2013 – first impressions and conclusions

The maritime spirit of the South Baltic Programme was in the air when 140 guests from Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden gathered at the premises of the Maritime Academy in Szczecin. Underlining the political commitment towards co-operation across the Southern shores of the Baltic Sea, the conference brought together representatives of local councils, municipal, regional and national administrations, formal and non-formal educational facilities, development agencies and research institutes operating in the South Baltic area. The event allowed the participants to reflect on the results achieved under the current Programme and gave an insight into the programming process for the South Baltic Programme 2014-2020.

Vice-Marshal Wojciech Drożdż of Zachodniopomorskie and Anita Ryng of the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and Development shared their belief in the merits of cross-border co-operation when opening a series of political interventions.

The cross-border footprint is evident in a large number of societal fields, and has become an indispensable practice to tap regional potentials. This is the general opinion shared among local communities, highlighted particularly by Mayor Piotr Krzystek of Szczecin, Mayor Vytautas Grubliauskas of Klaipėda, Council President Viveca Olofsson of Sölvesborg and Niels Chresten Andersen of the Regional Municipality of Bornholm in a panel discussion on the impact of cross-border co-operation on local community development. Referring to current tangible benefits for local sectors including maritime tourism, water management, offshore wind energy and waste management, the panellists stressed the important role of cooperation to tackle common challenges and underlined the importance for local players “to go cross-border”.

Directly taking up the call for better result orientation, Deputy Director-General Normunds Popens of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy underlined the importance given to cooperation by the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council, referring to the new legislative framework which for the first time includes a dedicated regulation for European Territorial Cooperation. Approved by the European Parliament, the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 foresees 325 billion euro for Europe’s future Cohesion Policy including 8.9 billion euro for European Territorial Cooperation, one of the policy’s two goals together with “Investment for Growth and Jobs”.

The financial volume of the future South Baltic Programme 2014-2020 has been significantly increased. With 36,9% more funds available, the Programme budget will increase to 83.1 million euro in the next programming period. This acknowledgement for cross-border co-operation in the South Baltic area was accompanied by the commitment expressed by Anita Ryng of the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and Development, Jane Strange Nielsen of the Region Zealand Growth Forum, Ursula Brautferger of the Ministry of Economics, Construction and Tourism of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Vice-President Akko Karlsson of the Regional Council of Kalmar County as well as Vice-President Thomas Lantz of the Regional Council of Region Skåne during a lively debate on the future prospects of cross-border cooperation in the South Baltic. As explained by the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and Development as the Managing Authority of the Programme, the next edition of South Baltic cross-border cooperation projects will be serving the overall objective of blue and green growth, particularly the internationalisation and innovation capacity of SMEs; the environment, focusing on the area’s natural and cultural heritage and on green technologies; the cross-border accessibility as well as the employment and labour mobility. At the same time, cooperation between local and regional actors will remain at the heart of the Programme.

The maritime spirit of the conference culminated in a tour through a number of naval laboratories guided by professional mariners.

A more comprehensive report on the Annual Conference is to be published shortly.


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Publication: "Smart transport development in South Baltic" Publication: "Smart tourism development in South Baltic" Publication: "Smart business development in South Baltic" Publication: "Smart environmental solutions in South Baltic"
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Stefan Cantré, DredgDikes
 
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