May 2016

Dear Baltic Sea friend,

The summer is fast approaching and Baltic Sea Region cooperation is in full swing. Below you will find an overview of our work in developing guidelines for municipalities to counter human-trafficking, research, innovation, child rights, energy efficiency and civil protection.

These are also the last few weeks in office for our Director General Jan Lundin, with visits from the German-Nordic Parliamentary Group, a celebratory reception at the Polish Embassy in Stockholm, as well as a concert by the Baltic Youth Philharmonic Orchestra at the CBSS Secretariat.

Wishing you a sunny week and a good read!


Warsaw Seminar on the Future of the Baltic Sea Region cooperation 

Challenges and opportunities in the Baltic Sea Region, as well as possible ways of improving governance and coherence in Baltic collaboration, were among some of the key topics at the seminar that took place in Warsaw on 9th March.

The seminar was hosted by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, back to back with the fourth Committee of Senior Officials meeting under the Polish Presidency of the CBSS.

The event was inaugurated by the Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Ms Katarzyna Kacperczyk. In her welcoming words, she emphasised that the Council of the Baltic Sea States is a leading regional organisation, which has the potential to bring all formats active in the Baltic Sea region closer together.

The participants of the seminar included the Committee of Senior Officials delegates and prominent experts nominated by the member states. The discussion was moderated by Mr Josef Janning, Head of the Berlin Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. The introduction to the seminar was made by the Polish expert Mr Olaf Osica.

You can read the main outcomes of the seminar here.


The Role of Municipalities in the Work against Trafficking in Human Beings: the STROM guidelines

The Council of the Baltic Sea States Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB) has recently finalised the STROM project (Strengthening the Role of Municipalities in the Work against Trafficking in Human Beings in the Baltic Sea Region). The project resulted in Guidelines for Municipalities on Stepping Up Local Action Against Human Trafficking, launched in the CBSS Member States.

The guidelines offer concrete measures on what cities can do to map out the local situation and identify populations at risk, as well as to improve assistance to victims and enhance prevention efforts at the local level. Several promising practices are also provided, to encourage municipalities to use innovative means to counteract human trafficking at the local level. The Guidelines are available in English, Estonian, Finnish, German, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Russian and Swedish on the CBSS website:

A follow-up project  named STROM II will commence in May 2016 in the Baltic countries and North-West Russia, with a focus on concrete implementation of the guidelines at selected municipalities.


Future trends in human trafficking: TRACE workshop & handbook

A number of new and emerging forms of human trafficking have been identified in the European context: including trafficking for forced criminality, begging and identity fraud. New forms pose challenges to a set of new actors in identifying cases and safeguarding the rights of victims. It is evident that especially migrants are vulnerable to exploitation, but the sheer number of migrants entering the EU in 2015 has overwhelmed and stretched limits of national and local actors. The “migration fatigue” experienced in many EU Member States further hinders the identification of trafficked persons.  There is a need for a renewed commitment to tackle this crime, making sure that relevant frontline authorities and actors have a proper mandate to identify victims and refer them to assistance. It is also a necessity to develop new tools for trafficking prevention and tailor preventive actions according to local circumstances with focus on flexibility and adaptability. 

To this end, the Council of the Baltic Sea States Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (CBSS TF-THB) organised a workshop presenting the overall results of the TRACE-project and policy implications of future trends in human trafficking in February 2016. Various stakeholders, including law enforcement officials, policy makers, civil society representatives, practitioners, and representatives of international organisations gathered in Stockholm to discuss new and emerging trends in human trafficking, the impact of the migration crisis on the trafficking situation and new and innovative means of trafficking prevention. The overall goal of the workshop was to conclude the TRACE project by developing and discussing the overarching and forward-looking recommendations on human trafficking as a criminal enterprise.

Based on the TRACE-project findings and the feedback and recommendations collected in the workshop, “TRACEing Human Trafficking - a Handbook for Policymakers, Law Enforcement Agencies and Civil Society” has been developed and will be launched at the end of April 2016.

See the e-book version here.


Science and research innovation in the Baltic Sea Region: Baltic TRAM & Baltic Science Network

An up and coming discussion theme in the Baltic Sea Region in the recent months has been science and research cooperation. Two initiatives which the CBSS has taken an active role in, Baltic Science Network and Baltic Transnational Research Access in the Macro-region (Baltic TRAM), can be highlighted here as valuable contributions to the establishment of closer ties among governing bodies as well as science and research institutions.

On 7-8 April 2016, Hamburg Ministry of Science, Research and Equalities hosted the first meeting of the Baltic Science Network project partners and associate organisations. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the division of work in the upcoming months and to plan the official launch of the BSN, which will take place during the CBSS Polish Presidency 1st Ministerial Session of the BSR Ministers of Science (on 15-16 June 2016 in Kraków, Poland). In the context of existing higher education and research initiatives in the region, BSN stands out as a forum, which gathers all relevant national ministries and/or governmental agencies responsible for defining and implementing science policy from all eight EU member states in the Baltic Sea Region (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden), with Russia represented by the St. Petersburg State University of Economics (UNECON) as an associate organisation.

Cooperation of Baltic Sea States in the science and research domain is also advanced by the Baltic Transnational Research Access in the Macroregion (TRAM) project. It is a project which capitalises on the findings of the previous Science Link project. Baltic TRAM seeks to strengthen the relationship between analytical research institutions and business, by establishing structures for cooperation between companies and researchers and linking expertise to concrete industrial needs. The project will develop a “Smart Cooperation” strategy on the basis of national research strategies. This strategy will be fed into the regional research and innovation agenda. The Baltic TRAM Kick-Off Event took place on 7-8 March 2016 in Zeuthen and the project will run until the beginning of 2019. Further consultations regarding the project implementation will be held at the beginning of June 2016 in Hamburg.


The Warsaw Roundtable on Deinstitutionalisation and Foster Care      

The Expert Group for Children at Risk has over the years focused on alternative care and family support. In 2015 the EGCC developed the Tallinn Recommendations and Action Plan on Alternative Care and Family Support for the Baltic Sea Region.

On April 20 2016, the Polish Presidency hosted the Warsaw Roundtable on Deinstitutionalisation and Foster Care. There members of the Expert Group and additional experts from Poland discussed the member states’ progress since the Tallinn Recommendations. The meeting was opened by Mr Bartosz Marczuk, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy, who presented the values, policies and priority of the new Polish government to strengthen the family and position of children.

The experts exchanged best practices in achieving deinstitutionalization, ensuring quality of child care facilities through monitoring and follow-up, and ensuring children’s views are heard. The governments and implementing agencies have made progress by adopting a strategic approach to continuing deinstitutionalization and encouraging foster care. Legal and policy reforms combined with additional resources for capacity building and early intervention are also helping families be better able to care for children, reducing the need for alternative care. Ongoing challenges include the increased need for foster careers in several of the member states, including those were many unaccompanied children are arriving, and the ability to monitor how the foster system works for the individual child. Investments are needed to increase the opportunities for children to voice their concerns and to be part of strengthening the child protection system.


New innovation partnerships and collaborations: Balticlab 4.0

Balticlab, the innovation and leadership programme for creatives and entrepreneurs, run in partnership by the Swedish Institute and the Council of the Baltic Sea States, has entered its 4th year of programme. With 41 participants from Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine and Germany the programme has once more embarked on a 3-module programme to explore interdisciplinary collaboration and how to improve the societies we live in.

The programme began in Vilnius. During 4 days in March 2016, the participants met, formed 6 project groups and started working on ideas linked to regional branding, sustainable lifestyles, artistic expression in everyday life, entrepreneurship education in rural areas, nature, festivals and the concept of home in the 21st century. The programme will continue with the second module in Kiev, 9-12 June, where the project groups will continue to develop their project prototypes with the help of experts in the field of prototypying, group dynamics, marketing and social media. The third and final module will take Balticlab to Moscow 8-11 September, where the 6 groups will evaluate and present the themes they have been working on throughout the summer.

This year Balticlab is also collaborating with new partners. For the first time Balticlab has German participants joining the programme through a new exciting new collaboration with the Goethe Institute on creative entrepreneurship. Balticlab is also involved in the new Goethe Institute initiative on creative industries and entering external markets called Creative Ports. Balticlab is also working with the Strelka Institute in Moscow, with whom the final module of Balticlab 4.0 will be organized in Moscow, 9-12 September 2016.


Energy efficiency in the Baltic Sea Region: EFFECT report

In collaboration with the Swedish Institute and the Nordic Centre for Spatial Planning, the CBSS published a new report on energy efficiency in the Baltic Sea region. The publication is a result of the EFFECT project, which aimed amongst others at communicating good practice solutions to relevant actors to develop and implement policies and concrete actions on becoming more energy and resource efficient. Giving an insight into the state of play and the work done so far in the Baltic Sea region, the report wants to encourage more cooperation in our region in the field energy and resource efficiency. You can access and download the report here.


Enhanced cooperation in the EUSBSR Policy Area Secure: Identifying and evaluating options

Representatives of the Civil Protection and Law Enforcement authorities, as well stakeholders from the private and public sector from across the Baltic Sea Region, gathered in Krakow the 11th -12th of May, to discuss and learn from each other’s experiences of best practice in the field of cross-sector and cross-border cooperation in societal security.

The workshop was initiated following the restructuring of EUSBSR PAs and PA Secure, and the resulting need for the development of a new conceptual basis for future cooperation. The new structure allows PA Secure to act in the societal security field regardless of whether the origins of hazards are natural, technological, or man-made, or a combination. During the workshop both malicious and non-malicious threats were considered.

The workshop made an important contribution in identifying some of the most promising areas and forms of enhanced cooperation in PA Secure in the gradual accumulation of common capacities and capabilities for societal security in the Baltic Sea Region. One of the more concrete outcomes from the workshop was the development of new guidelines on the implementation of transnational cross-sectoral cooperation in practice, as for how to establish the necessary mechanisms and practices to enable such. The workshop and its outcomes is one of the steps leading to a road map of detailed descriptions of the future focus areas of cooperation between civil protection, law enforcement agencies and stakeholders on all levels of governance.

The workshop was organised within the framework of the EUSBSR Policy Area Secure in partnership with the Polish Presidency in the Civil Protection Network and was co-financed by the Swedish Institute.

The PA Secure Steering Group Meeting

The 5th EUSBSR Priority Area Secure Steering Group Meeting took place at the International Cultural Centre Kraków Friday the 13th May 2016 following 2 extensive days of workshop on the enhanced cooperation in the EUSBSR PA Secure. The participants examined the progress achieved by the priority area flagships projects, discussed issues in relation to the Baltic Leadership Programme institutionalisation and formulated recommendations on this matter for the Directors General for Civil Protection. The steering group meeting further considered the  granting of flagship status to future  new projects. The next meeting of the PA Secure Steering Group will be held back-to-back to the 7th Strategy Forum of the EUSBSR – Vision 2030, on 10th November, 2016 in Stockholm.