The anniversary COSAC meeting’s events began with an informal discussion between eight EU countries’ (Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland) parliaments and representatives of the European Parliament dedicated to the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region, www.eu2013.lt reports.
The meeting’s chair, Deputy Chairman of the Seimas and Deputy Chairman of the European Affairs Committee, Petras Auštrevičius, stated that the Strategy is the EU’s first macro-regional co-operation project of its kind, thus the Strategy’s success and results may determine the future of similar projects and new initiatives.
According to Auštrevičius, after four years of the Strategy’s adoption (October 2009), conclusions can be drawn. He went on to say that the Strategy is entering a new period, during which a more active engagement of parliaments and the practicality of discussions are of utmost importance. These should help identify current problems and find the most effective ways of solving them.
“We believe that major infrastructural, energy, and other investment projects in the Baltic Sea region require a wider political agreement, greater mutual understanding between partners, as well as the engagement of the general public,” Auštrevičius said.
“The key factor of the Strategy’s success is the integrated and coordinated management of the Baltic Sea region, an agreement between various layers of society, and co-operation between the regional and local governments in all countries. Without such integration, the Strategy’s goals will be difficult to attain… The Strategy’s success will depend on how much political weight and attention it receives at the highest political level in each region,” stressed Auštrevičius.
Jose Palma Andres, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Territorial Co-operation, indicated the importance of the engagement of the region’s governments, ministries, and local authorities and the necessity to create specific plans and ensure funding. He stressed that the EU budget for 2014–2020 had to reserve funds for the implementation of the Strategy’s specific goals.
Andres also talked about the role of national parliaments, informing the MPs that “you have been elected and know best what people need”. The participants of the discussion also covered the immediate tasks and forms of co-operation.
An effective implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region and stronger regional co-operation is one of the priorities of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council.