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5th Committee of Senior Officials Meeting and the 3rd Joint Meeting with the EUSBSR National Coordinators under the Polish Presidency

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the fifth Committee of Senior Officials meeting on 12-13 April 2016.

It was preceded by a Joint Meeting between the CSOs and National Coordinators of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) and a delegate of the Commission’s DG REGIO. Representatives of the European External Action Service joined the discussion via video link.

Both meetings were chaired by Ambassador Michał Czyż from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Along with the CBSS Presidency, Poland is chairing the EUSBSR National Coordinators, here represented by Ms Joanna Wojtkowska from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Participants of the Joint Meeting discussed how the European Union and the CBSS could work closer together, building on potential and existing synergies.

The Chair emphasized in the beginning that in order to address developments and challenges, which have emerged in the Baltic Sea area over the last two decades (e.g. globalization, the financial and economic crisis, climate change, the growing accessibility of the Arctic), we need to coordinate our actions within different regional formats. Therefore we should move to a holistic, macro-regional and objective-driven approach, based on all-inclusiveness, and equal footing.

One of the focus areas of the discussion was the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

It was stressed that the CBSS Ministerial Meeting on Culture (September 2015) and the forthcoming Ministerial Meeting on Science (June 2016), organized during the Polish CBSS Presidency period, in close cooperation with the relevant EUSBSR Policy Areas, can be cited as positive examples of the role that CBSS plays in regional cooperation.

The role of the CBSS Secretariat, coordinating the EUSBSR Horizontal Action Climate and co-coordinating Policy Area Secure and Horizontal Action Neighbours, was also emphasized.

The CBSS Member states that are not members of the EU presented their engagement and involvement in EU processes relevant to the region. Iceland, Norway and Russia referred to the Northern Dimension. Moreover, Russia referred to the North-West Russia Development Strategy and its links to the EUSBSR, as well as to the process of joining the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme.

Iceland briefed the participants of the Joint Meeting on the Icelandic preparations for the CBSS Presidency, starting 1 July 2016, and the Icelandic Presidency priorities.

The Committee of Senior Officials meeting focused on evaluating the results of the Seminar on the Future of Baltic Sea Region Cooperation, held in Warsaw, 9 March 2016.

The Future of the EuroFaculty project and BSR youth cooperation possibilities were also discussed.

Furthermore, the mandate of the Expert Group on Sustainable Development – Baltic 2030 was endorsed by the CSOs, as adopted by the Group by silence procedure.

A representative of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Mr Tomasz Jałukowicz, briefed the members of the CSO on the upcoming Ministerial Session of the BSR Ministers of Science, to be held in Kraków, Poland, on 15-16 June 2016.