Building collaboration & trust

The Council of the Baltic Sea States is an overall political forum for regional cooperation.

Consisting of 11 Member States (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia & Sweden), as well as a representative of the European Union, it supports a global perspective on regional problems.  These include politically and practically translating the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Palermo Protocol and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, into regional actions on the ground.

In addition, the CBSS functions as a coordinator of a multitude of regional actors in the areas of its three long-term priorities: Regional Identity, Sustainable & Prosperous Region, Safe & Secure Region.

It is a strength of the organisation, that political level agreements can be put into action through concrete projects. Set up in 1992 to ease the transition to a new international landscape, the organisation today focuses on themes such as societal security, sustainability, research & innovation, as well as countering human trafficking.

The CBSS work is guided by its three long-term priorities: Regional Identity, Sustainable & Prosperous Region and Safe & Secure Region.

The highest decision-making body of the CBSS, the Council, consists of the 11 Foreign Ministers of the Baltic Sea Region, plus the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy. The Foreign Minister chairing the Council, is the main speaker for the organisation.

The Chairmanship of the Council rotates on an annual basis, with Latvia holding the presidency until July 2019, when Denmark takes over.

The day-to-day decision-making of the CBSS is led by the Committee of Senior Officials, representatives from the Foreign Ministries of the CBSS Member States.

The CBSS also includes 5 expert groups, which focus on specialist topics such as: Sustainable Development Goals, children’s rights, human trafficking, nuclear & radiation safety and sustainable maritime economy. Alongside the expert groups there are several networks that work on cultural heritage, civil protection and border control.

The decisions are put into practice by the CBSS Secretariat in Stockholm. The Secretariat of about 30 employees is led by the Director General, who coordinates with the annual Presidency and the Committee.

See an overview of how the CBSS structures interact with each other here.

all-three small

In June 2014, the Council decided, after a review of the previous CBSS five long-term priorities approved at the 7th Baltic Sea States Summit in Riga in 2008, to renew the 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 can be downloaded here.

Regional Identity

Regional Identity aims to foster a Baltic Sea Region identity and intensify contacts supporting its further development. The priority seeks to build a sense of belonging to the Baltic Sea Region through engagement, participation and multilevel governance, in a community spirit through dialogue, regional networks and institutions.

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

Safe and Secure Region

The goal of this priority is to enhance societal security and safety in the Baltic Sea Region, and to ensure that people of the region are protected from violence, accidents and emergencies, as well as safeguarded against harm caused by criminal exploitation and human trafficking. The work in this priority focuses on counteracting all forms of trafficking in human beings in the Baltic Sea Region via preventive and protective activities, promoting comprehensive child protection in order to prevent all forms of violence against children, and strengthening societal resilience to disasters and hazards in all stages of crises through adequate prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.

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

Sustainable and Prosperous Region

Sustainable & Prosperous Region aims 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. This work is carried out through improving the overall competitiveness of the Baltic Sea region through sustainable economic growth and labour market cooperation, research and innovation, promotion of green and low-carbon economy and inclusive growth, as well as supporting healthy ecosystems and our capacity to adapt to climate change.

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

CBSS Chairmanships 1992-2018

Country holding the CBSS chairmanship:

  • Denmark 2019-2020 Ms. Ida Heimann Larsen
  • Latvia 2018-2019 Ambassador-at-Large Juris Bone
  • 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

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.

Denmark holds the 2019-2020 Presidency of the CBSS. Find more information about the current presidency here.

Past CBSS Presidencies

Latvian Presidency 2018 - 2019

The Latvian Presidency of the CBSS for the period 2018-2019 began on 1 July 2018 and prioritised Integrity & Social Security, Dialogue and Responsibility. Latvia focused on the implementation of practical projects that range from those supporting integrity and societal security in the region, to sustainability and climate change, to spatial development, to cultural heritage.

Read more about the Latvian Presidency here.

Swedish Presidency 2017 - 2018

The Swedish Presidency of the CBSS for the period 2017-2018 began on 1 July 2017 and focused on sustainability, continuity and adaptability, which are all under the umbrella of the Agenda 2030. Sweden considered it of importance to continue with work and projects that are successful in promoting the CBSS long-term strategies, addressing everything from human trafficking and organised crime to the quality of the Baltic Sea, climate change and migration.

Read more about the Swedish Presidency here.

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.

Russian Presidency 2012-2013

The Russian Presidency of the CBSS focused on continuity and modernization as an important stage in the reforming of the CBSS to more project oriented activities and further search for breakthrough innovative areas of regional cooperation.

Russia strengthened the active role of the CBSS in providing stability, partnership and good-neighbourhood in the Baltic Sea Region, stimulating the traditions of tolerance, promoting direct contacts between people, including facilitation of the existing visa regime.

Russia continued to work on the projects launched together with German partners and related to the modernization of the South Eastern Baltic Sea Area (SEBA) with special emphasis on the Kaliningrad region and its neighbours, as well as developing the CBSS Public-Private Partnership Cooperation Network.

Click here for more information on the Russian 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

Latvian 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

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

Observer States

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

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. To see a full list of organisations we have worked with in the past, click here.

Mr. Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Mr. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen were the founders of the CBSS. Established by the region’s Foreign Ministers in Copenhagen in 1992, the organisation was a response to the geopolitical changes that took place in the Baltic Sea Region with the end of the Cold War.





cbss1992The CBSS developed into a flexible, demand-driven and result-oriented forum for regional cooperation. As Mr. Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations remarked, “the CBSS plays a key role in helping to underpin a stable, democratic, prosperous and undivided Europe.

Historical timeline


The Council of the Baltic Sea States as an organisation was founded in 1992 by the then Foreign Ministers of Denmark and Germany, who convened the meeting of establishment in Copenhagen. The Council was a first attempt to build confidence and relations based on trust, at the intergovernmental level between the 11 Member States and at the time the European Commission, in regards to the new political realities in the region. At the time, Denmark and Germany were the only Members States to be members of the European Union.

VASAB was created the same year at a Ministerial Conference.


In 1993 the Barents Euro-Arctic Council was formed.


In 1995 Finland and Sweden, alongside Austria, joined the EU. Iceland formally joined the Council.


In 1996 the Arctic Council was formally established by the Ottawa Declaration. The first Baltic Sea States Summit was convened in Visby, Gotland. The Agenda 21 initiative was officially established by the Ministers of Environment in 1996.


In 1998 the Council of the Baltic Sea States established an international Secretariat in Stockholm.


In 1999 on the initiative of Finland the Northern Dimension was formed.


In 2001 the Expert Group on Nuclear and Radiation Safety (EGNRS) agreement on the exchange of radiation monitoring data was signing. The Expert Group on Children at Risk was established by a high-level officials meeting dealing with the topic of Children.


In 2004 Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, among others, joined the EU.


In 2006 the Northern Dimension was renewed at the Helsinki Summit. The CBSS participated in the policy development alongside other regional actors, sister councils and financial stakeholders. A Northern Dimension political declaration and policy framework document were agreed.

The Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings was created by the Heads of Government in Iceland and the previous Nordic/Baltic Task Force on Foreign Minister level was amalgamated into the CBSS framework at the Expert Level.


In 2007 the Schengen land and sea borders were phased out for the ten member states that acceded to the EU in 2004, with airports following in spring 2008.


In 2008 the Council of the Baltic Sea States agreed upon the Riga Declaration on Reform. The organisation would become projectised across the organisation, not just in the specific specialised units.


In 2009 the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was launched. The Lisbon Treaty came into force and the membership of the European Commission became that of the European Union. The seat in the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials is held by the European External Action Service, alongside the Directorate General of Regional and Urban Policy.

Belarus became an Observer State alongside Spain and Romania, bringing the total number of CBSS Observer States to ten. France, Ukraine, the UK and the USA joined in 1999. Italy in 2000. The Netherlands and Slovakia in 2001.

The Working Group on Economic Policy and the Working Group on Democratic Institutions were dissolved.

The Expert Group on Maritime Policy was formed.


In 2010, at the 8th Baltic Sea States, the Vilnius Declaration was agreed upon, with a number of focus areas for the region until 2020. The Baltic 21 network was integrated into the structure of the CBSS as an Expert Group on Sustainable Development.


In 2011 the International Organization for Migration became a Strategic Partner of the CBSS.


In 2012 the Strategy of Social and Economic Development of the North West Federal District until 2020 was launched.

At the 9th Baltic Sea States Summit, under the German Presidency presided over by Angela Merkel, the CBSS adopted the Project Support Facility for seed money projects. For the first time, the organisation had a specific funding mechanism for external projects.

The year 2012 marks also 20 years of cooperation in a new political environment in the Baltic Sea Region. In connection to this, a publication was published in which ten women and men from across the region share their impressions on 20 years under three thematic subjects: Strategies for Sustainable and Innovative Future; Multi-Level Governance and Regional Cohesion; and Resilience and Inclusion in Times of Austerity.


In 2013 the European Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was revised with an Action Plan and the CBSS Secretariat, alongside other actors as coordinators or co-coordinators, became responsible for Policy Area Secure, Horizontal Action Neighbours and Horizontal Action Climate.


In 2014, under the Finnish Presidency, the CBSS priorities, set down in the Riga Declaration, were streamlined from five to three: Regional Identity, Sustainable & Prosperous Region and Safe & Secure Region. A mid/term assessment of the progress under the Vilnius Declaration was also undertaken.


In 2015 the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, containing a set of 17 Global Goals, was agreed at the UN.


In 2016 the CBSS convened the first Science Ministerial.

Baltic 21 became Baltic 2030.

Hungary became an Observer State to the Council.

The CBSS began work on joint projects with the Nordic Council of Ministers on child rights, migration and counter trafficking.


In 2017 the Council of the Baltic Sea States marked 25 years of the organisation, adopting the Reykjavik Declaration. In light of the 2030 Agenda, tasked the Committee to establish a group of wise women and men to take the organisation up to 2020 and beyond.


The Vision Group, made up of Baltic Sea Region’s academics, diplomats, experts, politicians and other public figures delivered their report on the future of the Baltic Sea Region beyond 2020.

The reform process was agreed to with the Stockholm Declaration during the Ministerial Meeting of the Swedish Presidency.

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