The 8th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was organised in Berlin on 13-14 June 2017 by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. The theme of the Forum wasconnectivity.

The Annual Forum was attended by over 800 participants of which 241 were from Germany, 175 from Sweden, 94 from Finland, 90 from Poland, 60 from Denmark, 40 from Latvia, 39 from Estonia, 32 from Lithuania, 29 from Russia, 22 from Norway and 4 from Belarus. Altogether 26 nationalities attended the Forum.

PlenaryFirst Plenary Session with Sigmar Gabriel, Martti Ahtisaari and Sara Mazur was packed.

Trust - key to more connected region

In the opening Plenary Session building trust in the Baltic Sea region was discussed. The German Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, stated that the European Union has brought the region’s countries together and considered the region as a pioneer of regional cooperation:

"This region enables us to feel the EU’s peacebuilding capacity very clearly. Where once we had the Iron Curtain, which also divided the Baltic Sea, eight EU member states now work together as Baltic Sea countries."

The speech of Minister Gabriel can be read online on the website of the Foreign Office.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, talked about strong trust in the region which has resulted in a variety of networks and organisations working across borders. He also emphasized the essential roles of both people and institutions in the region by quoting Jean Monnet:

“Nothing is possible without man, but nothing lasts without institutions. In the Baltic Sea region we have both”.

The speech of President Ahtisaari will be made available online on this website.

Third speaker of the Opening Plenary was Vice President and Head of Research at Ericsson, Sara Mazur, who considered connectivity in the Baltic Sea region in terms of new technological solutions. As “innovation happens when you work across borders”, Mazur strongly supports increased cooperation in the region.

The other two Plenary Sessions of the Annual Forum discussed blue growth and transport.

More than 30 seminars and workshops

The Annual Forum programme consisted of more than 30 seminars. All three objectives of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, saving the sea, connecting the region and increasing prosperity, were well covered in them. 

The seminars and workshops approached the Forum theme, connectivity, from different perspectives. For instance, connecting with the neighbouring countries, Russia and Belarus, was discussed in several sessions. One of the workshops focused on connecting the Baltic with the Arctic. Also more concrete transport issues, such as TEN-T corridors and autonomous shipping, were addressed.

Presentations form the workshops will be shared on the website of each workshop.

Next Annual Forum in Estonia

The 9th Annual Forum will be organized in Tallinn, Estonia, on 4-5 June 2018. The thematic focus will be “After 2020”. The event website will open under the EUSBSR website during autumn 2017.

The European Commission DG Regio communication team has compiled tweets posted during the Annual Forum into a story. See the story here.