The first Routes4U meeting for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) will take place on 6 and 7 September 2018 in Oslo, Norway. The meeting will contribute to identify the regional needs of the Baltic Sea Region with regard to the Cultural Routes Programme in the framework of the Routes4U Project.

It will determine areas of cooperation and recommendations on regional development, social participation and cultural cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. One dedicated session will focus on strengthening the existing Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe and developing new ones.

Participants to the meeting include representatives from European Institutions, Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe networks and stakeholders from the cultural and tourism field at national and macro-regional level in the Baltic Sea Region.

The event is hosted by the Arts Council Norway.

Find registration and the programme of the meeting here.


Since 2016 EuroAccess has been a central online information point on EU funding opportunities in the Danube region. Over the time it has proven to be a success, therefore, a decision to extent the website to all four EU macro-regional strategies – the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the EU Strategy for the Danube Region – has been taken. The updated online platform, covering all four EU macro-regional strategies, was launched on 25th June 2018.

EuroAccess, acting as a gateway to EU funding, provides the key data of more than 200 EU funding programmes, including (but not limited to) all Interreg programmes that operate within the geographical scope of the EU macro-regional strategies. Potential applicants can look for open calls for project proposals and filter results based on their type of organisation, their country of origin, and the thematic focus of their project idea, amongst others.

More information is available on


At the 9th EUSBSR Annual Forum, Interreg Baltic Sea Region invited participants of the Forum to join a seminar to discuss the future of Interreg funding and how to distribute the funds for 2021-2027 for the benefit of the EUSBSR.

For the past years, Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme has been the main financial source to implement activities of the EUSBSR, and it has both financed project and supported the governance structure of the Strategy. In the seminar, panellists agreed that the financial support for the governance and for the work of the PACs/HACs is needed also in the future.

During the discussion about the funding for projects and their future, the need for more flexibility in terms of time and size of projects was pointed out. All panellists agreed that maritime cross-border cooperation should continue.

The discussions about the future of the Interreg and EUSBSR will continue, as there is a strong will to develop the Strategy for the benefit of the Baltic Sea Region and its habitants.


Baltic Development Forum's 20th Annual Summit "Time for a BSR 2.0?" was held on June 4 in Tallinn. At the Summit, two new publications by Baltic Development Forum were presented, which served as the basis of the Summit's discussions.

The 20th Annual Summit provided a good opportunity to take a longer-term perspective on the economic development of the Baltic Sea Region, and the results of the analysis can be read in the report "The BSR Economies: Progress and Priorities – A 20-year Perspective" written by Dr. David Skilling. The report was published by Baltic Development Forum with the support of the Nordic Investment Bank.

Another publication was The 2018 Political State of the Region Report “Flexible Europe – what does it mean for the Baltic Sea Region” published by Baltic Development Forum and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. The report discusses the concept of flexibility in today's Europe understood as Europe of different speeds. The concept of flexibility is also extended to cover security and defence. In addition, flexible Europe is analysed from the viewpoint of Russia. 

As the Baltic Development Forum will cease its activities by the 31st of July 2018, this was the last Political State of the Region Report published.

The main theme of the 9th Annual Forum, organised in Tallinn on 4-5 June 2018, was the Baltic Sea Region After 2020. The Forum discussed how to improve the implementation of the EUSBSR in the framework of the future EU Cohesion Policy. It discussed also the current state of the ecosystem in the Baltic Sea as well as how to advance the Region as a global digital hub.

Almost 800 participants from governments, international organisations, NGOs, universities, local and regional administrations and businesses came together to discuss developments and challenges in the Baltic Sea Region.


Before the EUSBSR Annual Forum, Baltic Development Forum held their 20th and last BDF Summit. Among other high-level speakers, the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, came to close the Summit. The President stated that the Baltic Sea Region has taken regional cooperation to next level and thanked Baltic Development Forum for providing a platform for that.


How does the future of EUSBSR look like in the framework of future EU Cohesion Policy?


EU’s Cohesion Policy post-2020 and what it means to the EUSBSR was the main theme of the opening plenary and panel discussion of the 9th Annual Forum. Before the panel debate, high-level opening statements were heard from the Prime Minister of Estonia, Mr Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Latvia, H.E. Mr Māris Kučinskis, Prime Minister of Lithuania, H.E.Mr Saulius Skvernelis, Foreign Minister of Poland, H.EMr Jacek Czaputowicz, Foreign Minister of Poland and EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Ms Corina Cretu.

The opening statements reflected the themes of the Forum. For example, Prime Minister Ratas suggested that the Baltic Sea Region could become an example in digital governance: "Aside from the Baltic Sea, our people could be connected also by data flows moving quickly between government institutions, which would enable to use domestic services also in a cross-border manner -- such as buy medicines at a pharmacy in a neighboring country with a digital prescription issued in the home country."

Commissioner Cretu touched upon the Commission’s proposal for Cohesion Policy post-2020, including INTERREG funding which provides direct link to EU macro-regional strategies. Having listed the main points of the proposal, Cretu concluded: “[…] macro-regional strategies are not just about INTERREG. All relevant EU and national funding should be mobilised by the participating countries and their regions. This will ensure that adequate funding is available to implement the strategies.”

The opening plenary recording is available at EUSBSR YouTube.


Digitalisation and state of the Baltic Sea discussed

Two other plenary sessions of the Annual Forum were dedicated to the themes of digitalisation of the BSR and the state of the Baltic Sea.


In the plenary “EUSBSR and the digital world - a coherent digital Baltic Sea Region” keynote speech was delivered by the Vice President of the European Commission, Mr Andrus Ansip. He talked about the Commission’s aim of building a European Digital Single Market and Baltic Sea region’s opportunity to lead the developmet: “[…] digitally speaking, the region is well placed to embrace technological progress and thrive on it. However, there are substantial differences between countries that are holding back regional progress.”

The second plenary recording is available at EUSBSR YouTube.

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The environmental state of the Baltic Sea was discussed in the third plenary “EUSBSR and marine environment - safeguarding the ecosystems of the Baltic Sea”. The plenary was opened by video greetings from the European Commissioner on Environment, Mr Karmenu Vella. The keynote speech was delivered by Mr Lasse Gustavsson, the Executive Director of Oceana in Europe and in the panel. It was noted that the goal of the Baltic Sea Action Plan, to restore the good ecological status of the Baltic marine environment by 2021, is unlikely to be achieved. However, the need to move forward, “a little less conversation, a little more action”, was emphasised.

The third plenary recording is available at EUSBSR YouTube.


21 parallel seminars to cover EUSBSR policies, projects and processes

The extensive programme of parallel seminars during the two days of the Annual Forum covered EUSBSR themes, policies, projects and processes from many angles. In addition to the seminars, there was a networking village and a speaker’s corner providing a platform for more in-depth conversations.


At the Seaplane Harbour of Tallinn a live demonstration of a rescue exercise with vessels and divers was organised. The exercise was broadcasted on the Policy Area Secure’s Facebook page and is available there.


EUSBSR National Coordinators welcomed new Danish chair

The day after the Annual Forum the National Coordinators had their meeting and welcomed the new Danish Chair who will start in their position on 1st July.

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The National Coordinators' group



The Forum was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia together with the Baltic Development Forum in close cooperation with the European Commission, Ministry of Environment and other partners. The Annual Forum was co-financed from the programme of Interreg Baltic Sea Region.


Laying the foundations for the discussion in the 9th EUSBSR Annual Forum, the organiser has produced a report looking to the future of the Strategy: "EUSBSR after 2020: governance remastered".

EUSBSR after 2020


The report has been prepared by Spatial Foresight and the findings of the study will be discussed in the first Plenary session of the Forum, on 4 June 2018.

Prior to the discussion the authors of the study wish that the participants would think how they imagine the EUSBSR in ten years time. Their own foresight, based on the findings of the study, can be read from the imaginary press release from the 19th EUSBSR Annual Forum.


Looking back from the future

Tallinn, June 2028

Welcome to Tallinn for the 19th EUSBSR Annual Forum. The focus of the 2028 Annual Forum is

“A retrospective of the 2018 discussions ahead of the 20th EUSBSR anniversary”.

As we prepare to celebrate twenty years of EUSBSR, let’s look at the developments of recent years. What was done to implement EUSBSR objectives? Were the capacity building workshops reduced in the last five years because administrative capacity improved enormously? How did EUSBSR implementation evolve in the last ten years?

Let’s look at the example of ‘Save the Sea’.

In 2018, ‘Save the Sea’ was implemented through four sub-objectives and five policy areas. This was mainly through flagships, in the form of projects, processes and networks. However, obtaining flagship status was not always harmonised and could be cumbersome. So flagship processes were enhanced and sometimes even developed into thematic partnerships. This idea is also used today and the improved version is more in line with the EUSBSR idea of a being a policy coordination platform.

And for governance of the ‘Save the Sea’ objective? This used to be way more complicated than today. The extensive implementation layers of EUSBSR created confusion on what drives policy change. Of course, the Steering Groups, or Steering Committees, used to play an important role in 2018. They were often misunderstood as a separate governance element, but they remain an important meeting platform.

2018 was also a time when discussions started about ways to take EUSBSR forward. In view of the 20th EUSBSR anniversary, let’s recap. What were the main points of those discussions?

Simplification of the wide thematic focus and complex governance structure was obvious, but adjusting EUSBSR priorities to future challenges and trends was the first discussion point.

Another idea was to develop Thematic Partnerships. Inspired by the EU Urban Agenda partnerships, EUSBSR built on the commitment and ownership of its implementers, while further cultivating the macro-regional mind-set.

Another idea was to use Article 70 of the Common Provisions Regulations (2013) from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). Firstly, this initiative was being explored by EUSBSR, so it was not in unchartered waters, and secondly it aimed to make the most of available funding sources for cooperation.

Last but not least, was the idea to develop a Macro-regional Integrated Territorial Investment (M-ITI) based on the ESIF tool of Integrated Territorial Investments. This allowed EUSBSR to have its ‘own funding’ as well as administrative support from its intermediate governance body.

Ten years on, EUSBSR is going strong. It is part of the policy loop, influencing policy changes in the region. Ten years on it is again time to discuss future trends, future challenges and future implementation. The first seeds were sown in 2018. Now the EUSBSR is even more flexible and is implemented with even more open processes and even more committed players. It is preparing for the future, post 2030.

If there is one lesson to be learned from all this progress, it is not to be afraid of change, but to be bold, be open, be flexible.


Download and read the study "EUSBSR post 2020: governance remastered" below and join the discussion in the EUSBSR Annual Forum on 4-5 June 2018 in Tallinn!