EU macro-regional strategy for the Baltic Sea region

strategia makroregionalna

Due to fall in the period from the second half of 2024 to the first half of 2025. Polish chairmanship of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, including the chairmanship of the Group of National Coordinators for the Implementation of the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region(SUERMB or EUSBSR), so it is worth recalling its assumptions, objectives and thematic areas under which activities are implemented.

The European Union Macro-Regional Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (SUERMB or EUSBSR) was the first European Union (EU) strategy to be adopted by the European Commission and endorsed by the European Council in 2009.

The EU macro-regional strategy in the Baltic Sea region, is not the only one. In addition to SUERMB, the following macro-regional strategies are still in place:

  • Strategy for the Danube Region;
  • Adriatic-Ionian Strategy;
  • Alpine Strategy.

Macroregional strategy – objectives

The EU’s macro-regional strategy for the Baltic Sea region aims to save the sea (Save the Sea), increase regional integration (Connect the Region) and increase prosperity (Increase Prosperity).

SUERMB’s horizontal activities are:

  • Spatial planning – encouraging maritime and land spatial planning in all member states in the Baltic Sea region and developing a common approach to cross-border cooperation;
  • Neighbors – creating added value to cooperation in the Baltic Sea area through joint activities between regions and neighboring countries;
  • Capacity-building and commitment;
  • climate.

The implementation of SUERMB is done through the Action Plan – we will write more about it in the next issue of Water Issues.

Who is affected by SUERMB

The EU’s macro-regional strategy links the eight European Union countries bordering the Baltic Sea, namely. Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Poland and Sweden.

The European Commission, i.e. Directorate General for the Environment. The Directorate General for Regional Policy (DG REGIO) provides strategic coordination of SUERMB and seeks to mainstream SUERMB into relevant EU policies and financial instruments.

In addition, it promotes dialogue between stakeholders of all existing EU macro-regional strategies (currently these are: EU Macro-Regional Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, Strategy for the Danube Region, Adriatic-Ionian Strategy and Alpine Strategy).

The European Commission prepares a progress report on the implementation of all EU macro-regional strategies every 2 years.

SUERMB Subject Areas

In pursuit of SUERMB’s goals, more than a dozen so-called “”SUERMB” were set aside. Thematic Areas (OTs), under which projects, platforms and processes are implemented and solution proposals are developed. Projects, platforms and processes implemented under the Strategy must have Flagship status. This status is assigned by the steering committee or steering groups in each OT.

Each OT has Policy Area Coordinators (PAC), Horizontal Action Coordinators (HAC) from 2 – 3 member states.

Poland recently served as co-coordinator of four SUERMB OTs:

  • PA (Policy Areas) Nutri – Biogens “Reduction of nutrient discharges to the sea to acceptable levels.”
  • PA Innowation – Innovation “Fully exploiting the region’s potential in research, innovation and SME.”
  • PA Culture – Culture and Creative Sectors.”
  • PA Tourism – Tourism “Strengthening the cohesion of the macro-region through tourism.”

Under SUERMB, in addition to the aforementioned. OT, functions:

  • PA Bio-economy – Bioeconomy “Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.”
  • PA Education – Education “Education, research and employability.”
  • PA Energy – Energy “Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP Action Plan) for Competitive, Secure and Sustainable Energy.”
  • PA Hazards – Hazardous Substances “Limiting the Use and Impact of Hazardous Substances.”
  • PA Health – Health “Improving and promoting human health, taking into account the social aspects of the issue.”
  • PA Safe – Safe Shipping “Creating exemplary conditions for ecological shipping in the region.”
  • PA Secure – Civil Security “Achieving the region’s leading position in maritime safety and security.”
  • PA Ship – Clean Shipping “Creating exemplary conditions for green shipping in the region.”
  • PA Spatial Planning;
  • PA Transport – Transportation “Improving internal and external transportation links.”

Macroregional strategy vs. existing operational programs

The macro-regional strategy does not have its own fund. Its beneficiaries apply for funds under publicly available programs. To date, the funds that have supported SUERMB’s implementation are:

  • Operational Program Infrastructure and Environment (OPI&E)

OPD 2014 – 2020 contributed to all three of SUERMB’s goals of protecting the sea, improving the region’s accessibility and increasing prosperity.

  • Operational Programme Eastern Poland 2014 – 2020 (POPW).

POPW is an instrument supporting 5 provinces: lubelskie, podlaskie, podkarpackie, warmińsko-mazurskie and świętokrzyskie. He contributed to two SUERMB goals, viz. improving connectivity in the region and increasing prosperity.

  • Operational Program Intelligent Development 2014 – 2020 (OPIR).

POIR contributed to the construction of international cooperation networks under the SUERMB goal of Increasing Prosperity.

  • Operational Program “Fisheries and Sea” 2014 – 2020

Both the Operational Program “Fisheries and Sea” and the entire European Maritime and Fisheries Fund indirectly supported the implementation of SUERMB. The main lines of action are to promote environmentally sustainable, resource-efficient, innovative, competitive and knowledge-based fisheries, and to support the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy and the Integrated Maritime Policy.

  • Operational Program Knowledge Education and Development 2014 – 2020 (POWER).

POWER 2014 – 2020 was directly related to SUERMB’s thematic areas such as education, health and innovation.

  • Interreg Baltic Sea Region Program 2014 – 2020

The program was closely linked to SUERMB. Priority 4, “Institutional Capacity for Macro-Regional Cooperation,” funded activities to support the implementation of SUERMB, and Specific Objective 4.2, “Coordination of Macro-Regional Cooperation,” implemented the “Let’s Communicate!” project focusing on information and communication activities related to the implementation of SUERMB.

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