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.