Empowering cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region

The Council of the Baltic Sea States is an overall political forum for regional inter-governmental cooperation. The Members of the Council are the eleven states of the Baltic Sea Region as well as the European Commission. The states are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and a representative from the European Union. The Council consists of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs from each Member State and a member of the European Commission. The Presidency of the Council rotates among the Member States on an annual basis. The role of the Council is to serve as a forum for guidance and overall coordination among the participating states. The foreign minister of the presiding country is responsible for coordinating the Council’s activities and is assisted in this work by the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO). The Council does not have a general budget or project fund. Members are responsible for funding common activities and/or for seeking and coordinating financing from other sources. Since 1998, the CBSS Member States have financed jointly the Permanent International Secretariat of the CBSS.

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Decision by the Council of the Baltic Sea States on a review of the CBSS long term priorities

20 June 2014

The Council has decided after an evaluation and review of the CBSS five long-term priorities approved at the 7th Baltic Sea States Summit, held in Riga in 2008, to mainstream three renewed long-term priorities for the Council of the Baltic Sea States – Regional Identity, Sustainable and Prosperous Region and Safe and Secure Region. The full document including Strategic activities and pre-amble can be downloaded here. The Council endorsed the renewed long-term priority Goals and Objectives for each of the three as follows –

Regional Identity

Goal: To foster a Baltic Sea Region identity and intensify contacts supporting its further development; Objective: To develop the concept of Baltic Sea Region identity for and a sense of belonging to the Baltic Sea Region through engagement, participation and multilevel governance, in a community spirit and to create a notion of regional unity across borders by developing people-to-people contacts through dialogue, macro regional networks and institutions;

Read more about the different activities under the Regional Identity priority here.

Safe and Secure Region

Goal: To enhance societal security and safety in the Baltic Sea Region and to ensure that people of the Region are protected from and resilient to violence, accidents and emergencies through preparedness, and safeguarded against harm caused by criminal exploitation and human trafficking; Objectives: To counteract all forms of trafficking in human beings, in the Baltic Sea Region via preventive and protective activities and projects based on a coherent and multidisciplinary approach; To promote comprehensive and sustainable child protection in order to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children through a multi-sectorial approach and increased cooperation between relevant authorities and other stakeholders in the Baltic Sea Region; To strengthen societal resilience to disasters and hazards in all stages of crises through adequate prevention, preparedness, response and recovery; To enhance interoperability and strategic macro-regional cooperation enabling assistance and rapid response to cross-border accidents and emergencies, including disasters that may have cross-border consequences and impact;

Read more about the different activities under the Safe & Secure Region priority here.

Sustainable and Prosperous Region

Goals: To develop the Baltic Sea Region as a model region of sustainable societies able to manage and use resources efficiently, to tap the economic, technological, ecological and social innovation potential of the region in order to ensure its prosperity, environmental protection and social cohesion; To contribute to the eradication of obstacles hampering the comprehensive and sustainable development of the region; Objectives: To improve the overall competitiveness of the Baltic Sea region through sustainable economic growth and labour markets, research and development, innovative infrastructure, an integrated maritime policy, transport and communications; To support the transition of the Baltic Sea region towards a competitive, green and low-carbon economy thereby ensuring sustainable development and inclusive growth; To support further action to reach a good environmental status and a healthy ecosystem supporting a prosperous Baltic Sea Region; To strengthen the region`s capacity to adapt to climate change and the resilience capacity of ecosystems and societies; To ensure further mainstreaming of sustainable development at all levels and in all policy sectors, integrating economic, social and environmental aspects; To promote sustainable and green technologies and initiatives in order to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity of the Baltic Sea region;

Read more about the different activities under the Sustainable & Prosperous Region priority here.

The CSO in Reykjavik 2016

The Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) consists of high ranking representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the 11 CBSS Member States as well as of the European Union. The CSO serves as the main discussion forum and decision-making body for matters related to the work of the Council between Ministerial Sessions. The CSO monitors, facilitates and aims to coordinate the work of all CBSS structures. The period chaired by each country rotates on an annual basis and follows the Council Presidency. The CSO Chairman is a representative, usually at ambassadorial level, appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country which holds the Council Presidency.

Click below for the contact list:

Committee of Senior Officials 2017-2018

CBSS Chairmanships 1992-2018

Country holding the CBSS chairmanship:

  • Sweden 2017-2018 Ambassador Hans Olsson
  • Iceland 2016-2017 Ambassador Gudmundur Árni Stefansson
  • Poland 2015-2016 Ambassador Michał Czyż
  • Estonia 2014-2015 Ambassador Raul Mälk
  • Finland 2013-2014 Ambassador Satu Mattila
  • Russia 2012-2013 Mr. Sergey Petrovich
  • Germany 2011-2012 Ambassador Gerhard Almer
  • Norway 2010-2011 Ambassador Dag Briseid
  • Lithuania 2009-2010 Ambassador Neris Germanas
  • Denmark 2008-2009 Ambassador Karsten Petersen
  • Latvia 2007-2008 Ambassador Valdis Krastins
  • Sweden 2006-2007 Ambassador Christer Persson
  • Iceland 2005-2006 Ambassador Kornelius Sigmundsson
  • Poland 2004-2005 Ambassador-at-large Józef Wiejacz
  • Estonia 2003-2004 Ambassador-at-large Tiit Naber 
  • Finland 2002-2003 Ambassador-at-large Tauno Pesola
  • Russia 2001-2002 Ambassador-at-large Alexey A. Obukhov
  • Germany 2000-2001 Ambassador Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth
  • Norway 1999-2000 Ambassador Harald Neple
  • Lithuania 1998-1999 Ambassador Dalius Cekuolis
  • Denmark 1997-1998 Ambassador Dan Nielsen
  • Latvia 1996-1997 Ambassador Jānis Ritenis
  • Sweden 1995-1996 Ambassador Ingemar Stjernberg
  • Poland 1994-1995 Ambassador-at-large Józef Wiejacz
  • Estonia 1993-1994 Ambassador Alar Olljum
  • Finland 1992-1993 Ambassador Arto Tanner

Annual Reports

Polish Presidency Annual Report 2015-2016

You find all other Annual Reports under the Communications section.

Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States

The Council Presidency rotates between the eleven Member States on an annual basis. Each Presidency lays down a set of specific priorities to guide the works of the Council for the Presidency year.

The 2017 – 2018 CBSS Presidency is held by Sweden – Please click here for more information on the Swedish Presidency.

Please click here to get to the Summits and Council Ministerial documents

Past CBSS Presidencies

Icelandic Presidency 2016 - 2017

The Icelandic Presidency of the CBSS for the period 2016-2017 began on 1 July 2016 and prioritised children, equality and democracy, which Iceland believes form the foundation for a shared, sustainable and secure future for the region and its people. These priorities therefore underpinned the CBSS strategies for a stronger regional identity, a prosperous & sustainable region and a safe & secure region.

Read more about the Icelandic Presidency here.

Polish Presidency 2015 - 2016

The Polish Presidency of the CBSS for the period 2015 – 2016 began on 1 July 2015. During its presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, Poland focuses on areas of cooperation, which are in line with the three long-term CBSS priorities agreed in June 2014: Regional Identity, Sustainable & Prosperous Region, Safe & Secure Region.

Click here for more information about the Polish Presidency.

Estonian Presidency 2014-2015

The Estonian Presidency of the CBSS for the period 2014 – 2015 began on 1 July 2014. Following the new guiding documents approved at the culmination of the Finnish Presidency – Decision by the Council of the Baltic Sea States on a review of the CBSS long term priorities & Declaration of the Council of the Baltic Sea States on the implementation of the Vilnius Declaration  A Vision for the Baltic Sea Region by 2020, the Estonian presidency has been particularly committed to the practical implementation of the three renewed CBSS long- term priorities ‘Regional Identity’, ‘Sustainable & Prosperous Region’, and ‘Safe & Secure Region´.

Click here for more information about the Estonian Presidency.

Finnish Presidency 2013-2014

The Finnish Presidency of the CBSS for the period 2013-2014 began on 1 July 2013. Besides continuation of the major initiatives undertaken by the Russian Presidency, the Finnish Presidency is putting particular stress on working on issues related to maritime policy, civil protection and people to people contacts. The main event of the Finnish Presidency is the CBSS Summit, to be held in Turku in June 2014.

Click here for more information on the Finnish Presidency.

German Presidency 2011-2012

The German Presidency of the CBSS for the years 2011-2012 began on 1 July 2011 The German Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Council and of numerous other fora for cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. Over this time, the Council has done a great deal towards achieving the aim it set itself: “to recreate a genuine democratic community around the Baltic Sea”. The Baltic Sea Sates Summit on 30/31 May 2012 provided an opportunity to acknowledge these developments. The German Presidency was committed to the decisions of the 2008 Baltic Sea States Summit in Riga on the reform of the Council and of the 2010 Baltic Sea States Summit in Vilnius on “Vision 2020 for the Baltic Sea Region”. It was determined to make progress on the five agreed long-term priorities:

  • economic development,
  • energy,
  • environment and sustainability,
  • education and culture,
  • civil security and the human dimension

Norwegian Presidency 2010-2011

The Norwegian Presidency of the CBSS for the year 2010-2011 was initiated on the 1 July 2010. The Norwegian Presidency had three specific priorities:

  •  Maritime policy
  • Fight against trafficking in human beings
  • Further development of the CBSS as an organization to become more efficient, relevant and operative.

Shipping and related maritime activities are most central for the economic development of the region. There are also several negative environmental effects and challenges to be met: air emissions, discharge of oil and other waste and introduction of organisms through ballast water. The Norwegian Presidency wade use of the CBSS Expert Group on Maritime Policy to develop the sector and to meet the challenges. The Norwegian Presidency continued to implement the strategy and project activities that had been set for 2010 and developed a strategy for 2011 based on further enhancing cooperation between law enforcement and the civil society. The CBSS Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings was most central in this work. The Norwegian Presidency continued to work for a restructuring of the secretariat, further efficiency of the organization and to seek consensus among all members in building a project portfolio with other actors.

Lithuanian Presidency 2009-2010

Danish Presidency 2008-2009

Lativian Presidency 2007-2008

Swedish Presidency 2006-2007

Icelandic Presidency 2005-2006

Polish Presidency 2004-2005

Estonian Presidency 2003-2004

Finnish Presidency 2002-2003

Russian Presidency 2001-2002

German Presidency 2000-2001

Norwegian Presidency 1999-2000

Lithuanian Presidency 1998-1999

Danish Presidency 1997-1998

Polish Presidency 1994-1995

Swedish Presidency 1995-1996

Latvian Presidency 1996-1997

Swedish Presidency 1995-1996

Polish Presidency 1994-1995

Estonian Presidency 1993-1994

Finnish Presidency 1992-1993

Permanent Secretariat

A Permanent International Secretariat of the CBSS was established following a decision taken at the 7th Ministerial Session of the CBSS in  1998 in Nyborg, Denmark. The Secretariat was officially inaugurated at its premises on the island of Strömsborg in Stockholm on 20 October 1998. In November 2010 the Secretariat moved in to its premises located in Räntmästarhuset at Slussplan 9. The mandate of the Secretariat is as follows:

  • to provide technical and organisational support to the Chairman of the CBSS and the structures and working bodies of the Council;
  • to ensure continuity and enhanced coordination of CBSS activities;
  • to implement the CBSS Information and Communication Strategy;
  • to maintain the CBSS archives and information database;
  • to maintain contacts with other organisations operating in and around the Baltic Sea region, the national authorities of Member States and the media.

The budget of the core part of the Secretariat is financed by annual contributions from the CBSS Member States according to annual budgets approved by the CSO. Since its establishment in 1998, the following specialised units have been integrated to the Secretariat: January 2001 – the Baltic 2030 Unit (servicing the Baltic 2030 Expert Group) and March 2002 – the Children at Risk Unit (servicing the Expert Group on Children at Risk) and the Task Force against Trafficking on Human Beings.

Director General of the Permanent  Secretariat


Ambassador Maira Mora is the Director General of the Permanent International Secretariat of the Council of the Baltic Sea States as of 1 September 2016.

With more than twenty years of diplomatic and foreign policy experience, Ambassador Mora will be working with the 11 Member States of the Council of the Baltic Sea States alongside the European Union, coordinating the work of the organisation in line with the three CBSS long-term priorities – Regional Identity, Sustainable &Prosperous Region and Safe & Secure Region and managing the CBSS Secretariat in Stockholm.

Previous to joining the CBSS, Ambassador Mora was the Head of the EU Delegation in Belarus. As the representative of the EU, she coordinated and pursued EU policies in all areas, promoting EU principles and values, ensuring EU visibility and developing cooperation projects.

Within the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs she has held the position of Ambassador at Large, Head of the Policy Planning Unit, as well as having been Ambassador to Belarus, to Lithuania and the Deputy Head of the Latvian Delegation to the OSCE in Vienna. She has also been Councellor within the Latvian State Secretary’s Bureau, the European Correspondent at the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as a member of the crisis control expert commission at the Latvian Prime Minister’s Bureau.

Ambassador Maira Mora holds a degree from the University of Latvia, Department of Foreign Languages, and has been educated at the Swiss International Relations University, Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva and the International Security Studies College in Germany. Her expertise is linked to security policy, development and economic cooperation, as well as neighbourhood policy.

Alongside her native Latvian, Maira Mora is fluent in English, Russian, French, German, and has knowledge of Italian, Belarusian and Lithuanian.

Maira Mora has a keen interest in classical music, particularly opera. She plays tennis regularly and is quite the downhill skier.

Contact the Secretariat

Currently the Council of the Baltic Sea States has designated eleven countries with Observer Status. These are Belarus, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Council further cooperates with seventeen Strategic Partners so that regional cooperation in and with the Baltic Sea area can continue to advance and intensify. For a detailed list, see below. You can read the principles and guidelines for 3rd party participation in CBSS activities by clicking the link below: Principles and Guidelines for 3rd Party Participation in CBSS Activities and Meetings


CBSS Observer States

In 1999, the Council adopted its Principles and Guidelines for Third Party Participation which permits the designation of Observer status. The 1999 Principles and Guidelines were further elaborated in decisions taken by the CSO in March and December of 2002. In line with these decisions, Observer States are encouraged to actively participate in the work of CBSS structures and working bodies as appropriate, on an ad-hoc basis and according to their expressed interests. The following states enjoy official status as Observer in the CBSS:

  • Belarus
  • France,
  • Hungary,
  • Italy,
  • Netherlands,
  • Romania,
  • Slovakia,
  • Spain,
  • Ukraine,
  • United Kingdom
  • the United States of America.

Since 2002, Observer States are invited on an annual basis to a CSO meeting, (normally held in Stockholm, as several Observer States cover the CBSS from their Stockholm embassies), at which they are expected to inform the CSO about their activities, both planned and completed, in the CBSS framework in particular and in the Baltic Sea Region in general. Some examples of past participation by Observer States include the following: support for projects initiated by the EGNRS; support for the EuroFaculty projects in the Baltic countries, and in the Kaliningrad and Pskov regions of the Russian Federation.

Further information regarding the Observer States ministries:

Strategic Partners

cbss member states map

As of the 18. November 2009 the Baltic University Programme (BUP) was officially accepted as the seventeen Strategic Partner of the CBSS. The programme is a network of about 225 universities and other institutes of higher learning throughout the Baltic Sea region. The network is coordinated by the Baltic University Programme Secretariat a part of the Uppsala Centre for Sustainable Development (Uppsala CSD) at Uppsala University, Sweden. Since the 10th Ministerial Session of the CBSS in 2001, the Council has intensified efforts to coordinate CBSS activities with other organisations actively working to advance regional cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. The CBSS has taken the initiative to organise annual coordination meetings, (organised and presided over by the CSO Chair), with the participation of Baltic Sea regional organisations, thus providing a more structured channel for involving the strategic partners to voice their concerns and coordinate their efforts with the CBSS and other organisations.  

Strategic partners of the CBSS (click to read more):
B7 Baltic Seven Islands
Baltic Development Forum
Baltic Sea Forum
Business Advisory Council
NGO Forum

Mr._Hans-Dietrich_Genscher Mr._Uffe_Ellemann-Jensen Mr. Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Mr. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen were the founders of the CBSS. The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) is an overall political forum for regional intergovernmental cooperation. The members of the Council are the 11 states of the Baltic Sea region as well as the European Commission. The CBSS was established by the region’s Foreign Ministers in Copenhagen in 1992 as a response to the geopolitical changes that took place in the Baltic Sea region with the end of the Cold War. Since its founding, the CBSS has contributed to ensuring positive developments within the Baltic Sea region and has served as a driving force for multi-lateral co-operation.


CBSS – 1992

The CBSS is a flexible, demand-driven and result-oriented forum for regional cooperation. As Mr. Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations has remarked, “the CBSS plays a key role in helping to underpin a stable, democratic, prosperous and undivided Europe.” To this end, the CBSS identifies political goals, creates action-plans, initiates projects and serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas concerning regional issues of common interest. The CBSS is responsible for overall co-ordination of intergovernmental cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region in accordance with the organisation’s Terms of Reference. The Council of the Baltic Sea States continues to demonstrate success in a number of fields such as, i.a.: removing regional economic barriers to trade and investment; improving nuclear and radiation safety; confidence building through the promotion of democracy and human rights; faciliting crossborder cooperation (e.g. as project partner of the former INTERREG III B-Project Baltic Euroregional Network, a joint endeavour of the CBSS, Nordic Council of Ministers and other partners); transforming curricula and teaching methods at the three main universities in the Baltic States and at Kaliningrad State University by way of the EuroFaculty Programme; and finally, contributing input to the EU’s policy frameworks for Northern Europe such as the Northern Dimension. Since 1998 the CBSS has been serviced by a permanent international Secretariat that is located in Stockholm, Sweden and funded by the Member States.