Posts Tagged ‘Baltic Sea Strategy’


We have taken on the challenge


The end of the Swedish Presidency is approaching, and Prime Minister Reinfeldt is attending the European Parliament’s session today to sum up the past months. The outcome of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen is still uncertain, but nevertheless, I feel proud over our achievements these six months.

We must not forget that Sweden has led the European Union under very particular circumstances. When we took over in July, Europe went through the deepest economic crisis in 70 years. It was also clear that we had to act decisively in the climate field. It may be a challenge to adapt to a climate-smart economy and lifestyle, but I dare to say that this is the most important issue of our time.

The preconditions were somewhat shaky: the newly elected Parliament had barely been formed, the fate of the Lisbon Treaty was uncertain and the Commission was about to leave.

Out of our six priorities, we have nevertheless made important and considerable progress in each area, and the Lisbon Treaty, the Stockholm Programme and the Baltic Sea Strategy have been adopted.

The economic crisis
The ambition of the presidency was that Europe must emerge as a stronger actor after the crisis. New, more effective rules governing the financial markets are about to enter into force, but also new rules about bonuses and bank capital coverage. Thereby, Europe will be better prepared for the future.

But we have also set up explicit principles for an exit strategy, to phase out temporary measures and to return to sound public finances. And we have paved the way for a new strategy for growth and jobs, with a view to to strengthening the EU until 2020.

The climate issue
We do not yet know what to expect from the conference in Copenhagen, but we know that the EU has arrived at the negotiations with a strong mandate. The EU is to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases with 20 percent until 2020, and by 30 percent if other industrialised countries agree to make comparable reductions and the developing countries contribute as much as possible.

The EU has also agreed on the estimate that 100 billion euro per year will be needed until 2020, and 5-7 billion euro per year 2010-2012 in a so called ”fast start” financing. The EU will be contributing with 2,4 out of the 5-7 billions. It is important that the developing countries are given the opportunity for mitigation and adaptation. The EU has also agreed on a long-term goal for emission reductions: 80-95 percent until 2050.

The Lisbon Treaty
The road to the Lisbon Treaty has been long and winding, but I am pleased that it finally could enter into force by the 1 december. It provides us with modern rules for a more open, effective and democratic union. The Treaty also led to the appointment of Herman van Rompuy as the new Permanent President of the European Council, and Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy. Both these new positions are constructed to guarantee better continuity and more coherent EU policies.
Following the entry into force of the Treaty, a new Commission is also expected to be appointed by late January.

The Baltic Sea Strategy
As readers of this blog may be aware, the Baltic Sea Strategy is an issue on which I have been working intensively, and I am glad that we adopted a strategy for the region during the autumn. The idea is that the eight EU Member States in the Baltic Sea region should work more closely together for a cleaner sea and a more economically dynamic region. The Baltic Sea Strategy is a new way of working in the EU, where we try to look at the region from the perspective that many policy areas are connected, and I know that other regions within the EU are following the development with great interest.

The Stockholm Programme
The Stockholm Programme is the new strategic work programme in the area of justice and home affairs. It will direct the EU’s judicial, police and migration cooperation for the coming five years. The ambition is to create a safer and more open Europe that safeguards the rights of the individual, where we strive to guarantee individual integrity and strengthen legal certainty while also stepping up cooperation in the fight against trafficking, smuggling and other forms of organized crime. The Stockholm Programme also carries the ambition to create a common asylum system, and I am pleased that the European Council was able to adopt it last week.

Enlargement/The EU’s global role
We have made progress in the negotiations with both Croatia and Turkey, and applications from Iceland, Albania and Montenegro are now being reviewed by the Commission. We have also decided on visa liberalisation for Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. It is also positive that the work with the Eastern Partnership is going well.

We have of course dealt with many other important issues, and to discuss each and every of them would make an long blog post even heavier to read. Let me just give a couple of examples: The deal recently closed on a European patent (a negotiation that has been going on for decades) and the Telecom package are both of great value for Europe. Personally, I also want to promote our efforts to connect equality and growth and how the insight about the interaction between the two can strengthen our common work in Europe.


Baltic Sea Strategy brought to reality


Yesterday at the General Affairs Council, we adopted conclusions bringing the Baltic Sea Strategy to reality. Thereby, the Swedish Presidency has achieved one of its top priorities.

Our work is not finished by this. The next task is to make the strategy work in practice in order to meet the challenges the region is facing. The political will of the Baltic Sea countries is crucial.

Thanks to the Baltic Sea Strategy I believe that we in ten years time will have a cleaner sea, more companies that are better integrated and more competitive, a better maritime surveillance system and a more effective cooperation between rescue services in the region.

This is a success for the Baltic Sea Region, for the EU and for the Swedish Presidency.


High level discussions on the Baltic Sea Strategy


After months of preparation the conference on the Baltic Sea region and macro regional strategies finally took place today in the Stockholm City Hall.

Photographer: Gunnar SeijboldThe purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Baltic Sea Strategy as a pilot project for ‘macro-regional strategies’. Macro regional strategies is a new way of working. The idea is that neighbouring countries faced with similar challenges should make more efficient use of existing EU-programmes and structures by working closer together. For example the Danube region has declared that they will adopt their own strategy.

The strategy relies on the political will of the Member States. The conference meant an opportunity for the eight Baltic Sea States to show their commitment to the strategy, and their readiness to quickly start implementing projects. During the conference a joint statement was made to manifest this.

The Baltic Sea Strategy is a top priority of the Swedish Presidency. Our clear ambition is that the strategy will be adopted at the European Council 29-30 October. This will would enable us to get projects started already during the Swedish Presidency.


Baltic Sea in the spotlight


This week the Baltic Sea region will be in focus as the Baltic Sea Week opened on Monday. Today and tomorrow, I will be hosting a ministerial conference on the new EU Baltic Sea Strategy as a model for stregnthened cooperation in other European macro regions. The goals for the strategy are:

  • To make the Baltic Sea region environmentally sustainable
  • To make the Baltic Sea region prosperous
  • To make the Baltic Sea region accessible and attractive
  • To make the Baltic Sea region safe and secure

Photographer: Gunnar Seijbold/RegeringskanslietThe conference opened this afternoon, with ministers visiting an exhibition on Skeppsbron in Stockholm. The purpose was to show good examples of cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, such as how we can remove unnecessary obstacles to regional trade.

Later this evening, His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf will present the Government’s Baltic Sea Water Award at a prize-giving ceremony in connection with a dinner for the ministers. This year, prize is awarded to the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM). This organisation has made tireless efforts during more than three decades to protect the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution. The Baltic Sea really needs this kind of true commitment.


Cecilia Malmström on the upcoming week


Baltic Sea award to Finnish Foreign Minister


I have just addressed the Annual Baltic Sea seminar organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for the seventh time. The seminar was held at the Finnish embassy and was a part of the Baltic Sea Festival 2009, a week filled with classical music and fantastic performances as well as interesting seminars here in Stockholm. For Brussels readers, I can reveal that a number of musical highlights from the Baltic Sea Festival will be performed in Brussels next week.

At today’s seminar, the WWF Baltic Sea Leadership Award was presented by H.M King Carl XVI Gustaf and H.R.H Crown Princess Victoria. The prize was awarded to Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb. He received it for the work he did in the Baltic Intergroup of the European Parliament. The group, of which I was a member, launched the initiative of an Baltic Sea Strategy already in 2005. I am very happy that he received this award, he surely deserves it.

Alexander Stubb also spoke on the history and intentions of the Baltic Sea Strategy whereas I dwelt on how we will take the strategy forward during the Swedish presidency.

The Commission presented its communication on a strategy for the Baltic Sea 10 June this year, and the issue was discussed at the General Affairs Council in July. The Strategy will be officially adopted at the highest level during our Presidency, at the Summit of 29-30 October. This will enable us to start implementing the strategy right afterwards in various working groups and within the areas of responsibility of specific ministers.

Most of the work will, however, not require further decisions at Council level, but can be carried out in a decentralized fashion through existing structures in the EU Member States concerned.


Frying herring, discussing Europe


The Presidency is a unique chance to make this country’s rich culture known to the rest of Europe. A part of this is Swedish cooking. Participants at the official meetings during the presidency will be served climate-smart, organic food.

”Live Food” is a series of exciting events focusing on Swedish food, with Danish chef Rune Kalf-Hansen cooking and discussing with guests on current issues related to climate, ecology and the future of Europe.

Cecilia Malmström and Renata ChlumskaTonight at Kulturhuset, the Stockholm Culture Centre, I will be frying Baltic herring on stage together with Kalf-Hansen and Renata Chlumska, of the world’s top adventurers and the first Swedish woman to climb Mount Everest. The topic for tonight’s gathering is the EU Baltic Sea Strategy and how to increase cooperation in the region.