What is the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission?

Many pan-Baltic organisations have existed for much longer than the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. A special chapter in the revised version of the Action Plan for the strategy lists the pan-Baltic organisations and their contribution to the strategy.
We asked Jari Sainio, President of the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission, which gathers together regional authorities from around the Baltic Sea, to explain about the organisation and its work. 

What is the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission?
The Baltic Sea Commission is an international, independent organisation of regional authorities at sub-national level in the Baltic Sea Region.

The Baltic Sea Commission has a strong emphasis on territorial work, and each member region is represented by leading elected politicians. Members of the Baltic Sea Commission are also members of the CPMR (Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions) – a pan-European organisation of regions, working on strengthening territorial cohesion, enhancing the European maritime dimension and boosting the accessibility of Europe’s territories. 

Both the CPMR and the Baltic Sea Commission have a good reputation in the EU institutions, which is the result of many years of competent and committed work in the interest of the regions. In the field of cohesion policy we are one of the strongest voices in Brussels. We coordinate the European Parliament’s Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas Intergroup and we work closely with the Commission within areas such as transport, energy and, lately, migration.

The Baltic Sea Commission has its own work plan and secretariat. The BSC working groups play a significant role in planning with regard to the political issues, especially in the policy areas of transport, energy and maritime affairs. The members of the Executive Committee and the working groups are elected politicians representing their regions.

How do you relate to the EUSBSR in your everyday work?
The basis of successful cooperation in the region is promoted by a mutual understanding of cultural differences, sensitivity to each other’s interests, and trust. Regional authorities are at a crossroads of cooperation, able to bridge efforts at local, national, pan-Baltic and EU levels. We believe that regions could function much more as a door-opener for regional and local stakeholders to take part in the implementation of the EUSBSR.
For example:  
- Our Maritime Working Group is very involved in the process of building an implementation plan for the Sustainable Blue Growth Strategy in the Baltic Sea. During the Strategy Forum we will co-organise a workshop with DG MARE on this topic.
- Our Transport Working Group has member regions that are involved in several ongoing Interreg Baltic Sea Region programmes. We have a strong position in the TEN-T Network from a Baltic perspective that we use both in forming partnerships and when voicing our opinions to member states and DG MOVE. 
- Our Energy Working Group works on smart specialisation strategies – where we believe that transnational learning is necessary. During our last General Assembly in May 2016 we organised a Smart Specialisation Stakeholder Conference together with PA Innovation.

The Baltic Sea Commission and the Federal Foreign Office in Germany are co-organising the EUSBSR Annual Conference in June 2017. Preparations for, and organisation of, the conference will constitute a clear focus for the Baltic Sea Commission during the years to come.
The theme of this year’s Strategy Forum is One Region, One Future – Vision 2030 for the Baltic Sea Region. What do you see as the main challenges and work areas?
We are living in a rather turbulent era in European and global politics. Now we need new ideas to strengthen the cooperation and the European project. Around the Baltic Sea, environmental challenges are still high on the agenda. Progress has been made but we have to do more and need to achieve results faster.
For me, it is essential to underline that the BSR as a whole will be better prepared to meet regional, European and global challenges in comparison to a fragmented or exclusive cooperation, for example, among the Nordic countries. Therefore, the involvement of Norway and Russia is also indispensable.

For us regions, smart specialisation strategies and the possibility to create growth and jobs is crucial. We need to find clever ways of supporting the innovators, entrepreneurs and companies in our macro-region. In the Baltic Sea Region, we are strong in areas such as clean tech, blue growth and digitalisation – but we must be better. New technology and innovative solutions are greatly needed in this area.
Prior to the forum in Stockholm, we are taking a position on the Baltic Sea Region’s Vision 2030. We hope to be able to voice our views and concerns in the many different workshops that our members are co-organising or participating in.

Looking forward to seeing you all in Stockholm!

Jari Sainio, President of the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission, Vice President of the Regional Council of Helsinki-Uusimaa

Jari Sainio, President of the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission, Vice President of the Regional Council of Helsinki-Uusimaa
Jari Sainio, President of the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission, Vice President of the Regional Council of Helsinki-Uusimaa