Text: Anja Karppinen, Baltic Sea Strategy Point

The National Coordinators Group of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) met for the second time under the Latvian Presidency on 29 November 2023. National Coordinators discussed the timeline for the Strategy's Action Plan update among other things on the agenda.


Action Plan update 

The National Coordinators Group discussed two proposed timelines for the Action Plan update. In the first scenario, the new Action Plan would be ready to come into force in January 2026, and in the event of the second scenario in June 2026. The National Coordinators Group considered that the first scenario would be feasible, provided that the Policy Area Coordinators have sufficient time to develop and get agreement on the proposed actions and indicators of their respective Policy Area. To secure better alignment of the Action Plan’s policy actions and indicators with the allocated financial resources to the Baltic Sea Region, the revision should go hand-in-hand with the programming of the EU 2028-2034 budget.

The process is not expected to lead to changes in the Strategy’s governance structure but to focus on the added value and achievements. The National Coordinators Group considered that it was unlikely that the updating of the Action Plan would make it necessary for the EU Commission to update its Communication on the Strategy.

The Interreg Baltic Sea Region Secretariat presented the current status of and the timelines for its technical support to the EUSBSR governance structures. This consists of support to the Policy Area Coordinators, the Baltic Sea Strategy Point and the Annual Forums. A total of 12.6 million euro was allocated for this technical support for the 2021-2027 period, out of which 5.2 million euro have already been committed. As the Action Plan update is foreseen, the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Secretariat will require feedback from the National Coordinators Group in case any changes affect its support to Policy Area Coordinators and the Baltic Sea Strategy Point. Such feedback will need to be available by spring 2024 and autumn 2024 respectively.

The Baltic Sea Strategy Point will adjust the first scenario timeline in line with the National Coordinators Group discussion. The timeline is to be approved by written procedure. Before the update now at hand, the Strategy has been updated four times, in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2021.

Monitoring the Strategy implementation

The Action Plan update is tightly connected to another agenda point in the meeting, namely the monitoring and evaluation of the Strategy and its implementation. Well-functioning follow-up system provides the National Coordinators with tools for improving the Strategy in the future, and for collecting timely information for impactful communication activities. Developing such a framework has been on the agenda since October 2022, and several important steps have been taken by the Policy Area Coordinators, the National Coordinators and the Baltic Sea Strategy Point, including a report on the activities in 2022, provided by the Policy Area Coordinators after summer.

While the overall framework is still under development, the Baltic Sea Strategy Point shall proceed with the reporting for the year 2023 according to the previous year’s questionnaire template, pending minor adjustments. The reporting data can then be re-used by the Policy Area Coordinators when reporting to the European Commission later in the spring.

Other business and the next meeting

Furthermore, the National Coordinators Group approved communication guidelines for the Strategy, prepared by the Baltic Sea Strategy Point, and discussed the Macro-regional Strategies Trio Presidencies Guidelines. This group refers to the current, outgoing and upcoming Presidencies of the four EU Macro-Regional Strategies. National Coordinators Group noted the information on the “Macro-regional civil strategy in the making” event in Stockholm on 9 November and the upcoming event in Budapest on 7 December and highlighted that while civil society engagement is important within the Strategy, the relevance and added value of a cross macro-regional strategy level initiative is less clear. Sweden gave an update in the Annual Forum, which will take place in Visby in 2024. Further details on the main theme and the programme will be disclosed at a later stage.


See the full minutes of the National Coordinators meeting here.
The next NCG meeting, under the Latvian EUSBSR Presidency, will take place on 17 January 2024 in the “NCs only” format. The next NCG meeting in the regular configuration is scheduled for Wednesday, 13 March.