Everyday tales and stories from the border regions of Europe and beyond, with the aim of explaining why we border-crossers are as obsessed as we are about this subject, why it is important to all of us, and why the co-operation community needs a little bit more visibility than it normally gets.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Baltic Sea excitement

It's evidently Strategy time on the Tales from the Borderlands blog, as today the Baltic Sea takes centre stage. The Finns, in their usual quiet, effective way, put together the Baltic Sea Action Summit (http://www.bsas.fi/) which took place last Wednesday. The guest list was truly impressive, with at least 3 Presidents, 5 Prime Ministers (including Putin), not to mention the Swedish King, accompanied by his environment minister.

Also taking part was the new European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn. I can't help thinking that President Barroso should really have been there as well. Yes, there is the very good explanation that 10 February was the first day of work for the new Commission, but - if the event had been covering the south of Europe, do we still think Barroso would not have been present?

On content, there were strong messages from all participants, demonstrating a genuine commitment to cleaning up the Baltic. The Border-crosser is not often considered an idealist, so here's hoping that my feeling - that a lot of what was said went further than is normally the case - is accurate. There will be a need to link up many of the individual commitments to the EU's Baltic Sea Strategy, and also to the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, but that looks doable.

The one off-note of the day came from Putin, who delivered a longish lecture about how wonderful the Nordstream gas pipeline is going to be for the Baltic environment. He was a little short on proof for backing that up, unsurprisingly, but his very presence was still a positive signal, and he had a whole series of bilateral meetings in the margins which can only have helped as well.

No comments: