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!