Text: Anja Karppinen, Baltic Sea Strategy Point


On 4-6 June, the EUSBSR National Coordinators, PACs, and other key stakeholders gathered in Visby, Gotland, for the closing event of the Swedish Presidency. EUSBSR Presidency rotates annually among the EUSBSR Member States, and Latvia is prepared to take over on 1 July once the current Presidency term has ended.

The EUSBSR Presidency strives to facilitate decision-making and cooperation among the National Coordinators of all eight member countries and the Policy Area Coordinators together with the European Commission. In Visby, this core group gathered for a 3-day working meeting. Swedish Minister of EU Affairs Jessika Roswall, opened the event on Monday. In her speech, she reflected on the Swedish EUSBSR Presidency and the Swedish EU Presidency, which are overlapping from January until the end of June.

During its EUSBSR Presidency, Sweden has focused on promoting cooperation on all levels by focusing on strengthening implementation, increasing exchanges of experience, and improving communication. Support for Ukraine and cooperation with Ukrainian stakeholders grew its importance over the Presidency period and will likely remain high on the agenda in the upcoming years.


“During the Swedish Presidency, cooperation with Ukraine has been a natural and obvious priority for the EUSBSR.” Swedish Minister of EU Affairs Jessika Roswall


EUSBSR family 2023

EUSBSR key stakeholders together with Swedish Minister of EU Affairs Jessika Roswall in Visby, June 2023.


Cooperation with Ukraine

Ukraine was high on the agenda also in Visby. In December 2022, EUSBSR launched four initiatives for cooperation between the Baltic Sea Region and Ukrainian stakeholders, with the first follow-up steps taken during the spring.

EUSBSR Policy Areas Bioeconomy and Nutri have been working with Ukrainian ecosystems and economy with the first step focusing on the wastewater treatment plant in Lviv, one of the HELCOM hot spots and in dire need of modernisation. 

Policy Area Education has been working on the topic of distance education: With young refugees spread all over the world, distance education is a reality. EUSBSR looks for solutions together with stakeholders from both the Baltic Sea Region and Ukraine. Policy Education, together with Policy Area Secure has also been working on Civil Protection Academy, a non-formal education, a transformative force of change in Ukraine. 

Policy Areas Ship and Safe have put efforts into maritime transports and supporting maritime students. The first step has been to support Ukrainian maritime students to finalise their studies.

In Visby, EUSBSR National Coordinators and Policy Area Coordinators together with online participants from Ukraine and EU macro-regional strategy for the Danube Region, gathered to envision and discuss how to further foster cooperation between Ukraine and the Baltic Sea and Danube regions.


Engaging civil society, youth organisations, and private sector companies

A group of Civil Society and youth organisation representatives, together with representatives from the private sector, took part in the official programme of the meeting. 

EUSBSR is based on open and transparent participation, inclusiveness, and multi-level governance. The wide thematic coverage of the policy areas provides opportunities for different kinds of stakeholders to participate and propose various kinds of activities. There is a need to increase the involvement of NGOs, civil society, youth organisations, and the business community. However, it was highlighted in the discussion that there is no clear roadmap on how to involve these groups.


"Let's just start from somewhere. Do. Test. See what happens." Secretary-general for Norden Association in Sweden, Josefin Carlring


The participants shared the view that EUSBSR should not consider any of the above-mentioned groups as a resource or a token that can be used and invited to join whenever needed. The cooperation has to be continued and interactive. The question rose, whether EUSBSR would need an institutionalised framework for civil society, the youth, and the private sector to participate.



National Coordinators and Policy Area Coordinators discussing how to communicate achievements.


Visby presentations

Civil Protection update Visby 2023

Distance Education update Visby 2023

Maritime Students update Visby 2023

Ukrainian Ecosystems update Visby 2023

Interreg BSR Update Visby 2023

VASAB Vision and Ministerial update Viby 2023

Policy Area Culture update Visby 2023

Policy Area Tourism update Visby 2023