Baltic Sea Strategy
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was adopted in 2009 as the Union's first macroregional strategy. The updated action plan of the strategy lays out three overall objectives for the strategy:
- Save the Sea
- Connect the Region, and
- Increase Prosperity.
The key principle in the achievement of the overall objectives is smart specialisation, which means the identification of the region's strengths and their systematic strengthening so that an adequate critical mass can be achieved, especially in the region's small Member States, such as Finland. This requires the use of the diversity of all sub-regions of the region - historic regions, major regions and the Baltic Sea macroregion - and the development of cooperation between the regions at all levels.
The Baltic Sea Region is considered in the selection criteria of the structural fund projects. The authorities are encouraged to arrange targeted project application rounds connected with the priorities of the Baltic Sea Strategy.
From the perspective of the structural fund programmes, the key aim of the EU's Baltic Sea Strategy is to increase prosperity and well-being. Structural fund programmes can support this aim by supporting the growth and internationalisation of enterprises and by investing in the development and application of innovations. The rise of the cleantech sector as a new economic engine will strengthen cooperation between enterprises and researchers in the Baltic Sea region. With structural fund resources, system inventions supporting smart transport and energy solutions can be developed in the RDI sector. Particularly in these sectors, it is also necessary to seek partners in countries adjacent to the Baltic Sea region.
In addition to the structural fund programme, regional cooperation programmes carried out in Southern and Western Finland (Baltic Sea Region Programme, Central Baltic Programme and the Botnia-Atlantica Programme), the Southeast Finland - Russia ENI programme, the regional cooperation programmes carried out in Eastern and Northern Finland (Baltic Sea Region Programme, Northern Periphery Programme and Nordic Cross-Border Co-operation Programme) and the ENI programmes (Kolarctic and Karelia) are also important for the Baltic Sea Strategy.
The ESF will also be more closely involved in the implementation of the strategy. The ESF managing authorities are working to establish ways to cooperate more closely within the investment priorities chosen by each Member State. For example, the ESF managing authorities in the Baltic region have the chance to organise joint thematic project application rounds.
In order to strengthen the social dimension of the Baltic Sea Strategy, cooperation in the Baltic Sea region can be implemented by promoting closer cross-border cooperation between education institutions (such as higher education institutions and vocational institutions) in the field of lifelong learning and other types of learning. Especially for young people, there is potential in cooperation between education institutions and working life, in measures concerning transitional phases in education (especially application for upper secondary education) and in putting studying on a more effective basis. There is also cooperation potential in the promotion of the mobility of students and employees and the increase in their social inclusion, combating of poverty (especially among different ethnic groups) and in different development projects concerning working life and on-the-job learning.