Expert Group on Sustainable Maritime Economy

At the 15th Ministerial Session in Elsinore, Denmark on the 4th of June the Ministers welcomed the decision to set up an Expert Group on Maritime Policy intended to contribute to sustainable growth and employment in the maritime sector, to combine and better coordinate all sea-related activities and tasks, as well as to strike an appropriate balance between economic, social and ecological aspects.  In 2018, the Expert Group revised its Terms of Reference and changed its name to Expert Group on Sustainable Maritime Economy (EGSME).

As an intergovernmental group of experts, the EGSME will through knowledge sharing seek to provide politically coordinated support to relevant efforts, concrete initiatives, actions and projects aimed at:

  • Improvement of the Baltic Sea Region’s international competitiveness with regard to the development of a sustainable maritime economy
  • Positioning of the Baltic Sea Region as a model region for maritime best practice and for a balanced co-existence of a successful sustainable maritime economy taking also into account socio-economic aspects and adequate protection of the vulnerable marine ecosystem
  • Performing as an information hub for experience and knowledge exchange, providing a cross-sectoral approach and synergies between key actors in the field of maritime economy in the Baltic Sea Region.

International Association

Within numerous international associations and political developments which affect a maritime policy in the Baltic Sea region of particular importance are activities and policy developments of International Maritime Organization (IMO). Its main task is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping including safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping. All CBSS Member States are IMO members. All CBSS Member States are members of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), under which works also Multi-year expert meeting on transport and trade facilitation.

Pan Baltic Associations and Important Political and Sectoral Developments

There are many associations which work in variety of areas of cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. Some of them should be mentioned as important decision makers in relation to the maritime policy activities in the Baltic Sea Region.

  • The  Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) Working Group on Integrated Maritime Policy held its inaugural meeting in Rostock on 21-22 January 2010. The focus of the group is on infrastructure and logistics and it aims at elaborating joint BSPC policy recommendations within this policy area.
  • The Maritime Group of the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM MARITIME) works to prevent any pollution from ships – including deliberate operational discharges as well as accidental pollution.
  • The Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation (BSSSC) Working Group on Maritime Policy aim is to bundle and formulate the interests of the Baltic Sea regions in maritime policy and organize relevant political support.
  • Within the framework of the Northern Dimension Policy, the Northern Dimension Partnership for Transportation and Logistics (NDPTL or Partnership) was established in October 2009, and is one of the four existing partnerships of the Northern Dimension. The overall goal of the Partnership is to improve, in compliance with the ecological needs of the region, major transport connections and logistics in the Northern Dimension region in order to stimulate sustainable economic growth at the local, regional and global level by focusing on a limited number of priorities that reflect both regional and national priorities in balanced way.
  • VASAB is an intergovernmental multilateral co-operation in spatial planning and development between 11 countries of the Baltic Sea Region.
  • Baltic Ports Organization (BPO) aims to facilitate co-operation between the ports in the Baltic Sea Region. 40 or more of the most significant ports in the 9 countries on all sides of the Baltic Sea are members of BPO.
  • The CPMR Baltic Sea Commission is a forum for policy-oriented cooperation and a platform for cooperation amongst Regional Authorities in the Baltic Sea Region. Since 2015, the Baltic Sea Commission’s Maritime Working Group (MWG) has focused on Sustainable Blue Growth, linked to the main objectives of “Saving the Sea” and “Increasing the Prosperity” of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Regions.
  • BONUS, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme for years 2010-2017, was started by the BONUS member states together with the EU and officially launched in September 2010. It brings together the research communities of marine, maritime, economic and societal research to address the major challenges faced by the Baltic Sea Region.

EU Initiatives

Initiatives of the European Union relevant to Maritime Policy

By adopting a document for an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union – also called the Blue Book on 10 October 2007 the Commission recognized that all matters relating to Europe’s oceans and seas are interlinked, and that sea-related policies must be developed in a joined-up way.

Progress report, 15 October 2009, on the EU’s integrated maritime policy sets six strategic policy orientations for the future: integration of maritime governance, development of cross-cutting policy tools, defining boundaries of sustainability, development of sea-basin strategies, development of international dimension of the Integrated Maritime Policy, renewed focus on sustainable economic growth, employment and innovation.

EU policy actions include also integrated maritime surveillance and maritime spatial planning. On 10 June 2009, the European Commission adopted Communication on EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region  first a comprehensive Strategy targeted on a ‘macro-region’ which addresses also maritime policy issues. The European Parliament resolution of 5 May 2010 on strategic goals and recommendations for the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018 emphasizes market, social, environmental and safety aspects of EU maritime policy.


The EGMP aims at initiating a network for marine science, research and development in the Baltic Sea Region, which seeks to increase know-how for the participants through the exchange of knowledge and experience, and can serve as a contact point for dialogue with political decision-makers. The EGMP invited to its meeting of 11 May 2010 in Klaipeda a representative from Baltic Organizations Network for Funding Science (BONUS), which brought together 10 research funding organizations around the Baltic Sea. The closer cooperation between EGMP and BONUS was the outcome of that meeting. The EGMP was invited to take part in BONUS Advisory Board meetings in the future.


In accordance with the Terms of Reference of the EGMP one of its tasks is to initiate a maritime economy cluster in the Baltic Sea Region. The first step to realize this task was taken. EGMP organized Maritime Cluster Workshop in Lithuanian port city Klaipeda on 11 – 12 May 2010, where representatives from maritime clusters in the Baltic Sea Region were invited to discuss possibility of establishing Maritime Cluster of the Baltic Sea Region. The outcome of that workshop is a clear message that cooperation between maritime clusters in the Baltic Sea Region is necessary and the clusters’ cooperation could make the Baltic Sea Region more competitive.

In accordance to the EGMP Terms of reference EGMP aims to propose and accompany cross-sector pilot projects in maritime policy within the framework of transnational cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. On the EGMP meeting on the 9th of March 2010 in Copenhagen it was decided to support following projects: Clean Baltic ShippingBaltSeaPlanEfficienSea  and SubMariner.

Virtual Communication Platform

In accordance to the Terms of Reference, the CBSS Expert Group on Maritime Policy (EGMP) works on developing a Virtual Communication Platform on maritime policy in the Baltic Sea Region. The aim of the Virtual Communication Platform is to increase common knowledge about the current developments within the maritime policy in the Baltic Sea Region. At this point, we have developed a databank phase of the platform. At later point the databank will be developed into more interactive Virtual Communication Platform.

The conference “Development of sustainable maritime economy: opportunities and challenges for small and medium ports in the Baltic Sea Region” organised by the Expert Group on Sustainable Maritime Economy and EU Commission’s Maritime Affairs and Fisheries DG MARE is taking place on the 3rd and 4th of April 2019 in Jurmala, Latvia.

The Baltic Sea Region is rich in maritime and fishing traditions. Small and medium-sized ports form a significant part of the Baltic Sea Region ports infrastructure. They operate as regional ports that are vital for municipalities. They provide jobs, as well as, opportunities for yachting tourism, boosting tourism development, cruising business alongside infrastructure for tourism and fishing.

The main topic of the conference is very much in line with the EU Blue Growth Strategy, supporting sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors, as well as focusing the Baltic Sea sustainable growth agenda.

The event offers an opportunity to discuss among stakeholders from the BSR the current opportunities, challenges, solutions and best practices of small and medium ports in the Region, as well as providing an appropriate space for networking among different cooperation platforms and fora. A dedicated session will explore avenues on how to further promote sustainable blue growth in light of the ongoing revision of the EUSBSR Action Plan.

In March 2018, the CBSS Member representatives from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the EU Commission were present alongside strategic partners and observers at the CBSS Secretariat in Stockholm for the meeting of the Expert Group on Maritime Policy.

The meeting was chaired by Mattias Rust from the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation and opened by Deputy Director General of the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat Maira Mora. In the morning session, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management and the WWF gave presentations and perspectives to the discussion on Maritime Sustainability Indicators to the participants including the Baltic Sea Commission CPMR, BONUS, BSSSC and the NDPTL.

At the meeting, the name of the Expert Group on Maritime Policy was formally decided by the group to be updated to the new name of the Expert Group on Sustainable Maritime Economy.

Read more about the meeting and find the presentations here.

On 5 September 2017, the CBSS Expert Group on Maritime Policy (EGMP) meeting was organized in the framework of the Donsö Shipping Meet (DSM) at Donsö Island, Sweden, in close cooperation with HELCOM and Zero Vision Tool (ZVT) and as an integral part of the Regional Cooperation Day, devoted to green shipping, technology and alternative fuels, the Blue Growth Agenda and the UN Sustainable Goals’ implementation in regard to maritime economy.

Together with other Baltic Sea Region maritime actors, the expert group members discussed maritime collaboration in the Baltic Sea Region, introduced the Integrated Maritime Sustainability Indicators and concretised the actions taken on the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 which the Sweden chose as the main focal point of EGMP’s work during its Presidency year.

Mattias Rust, Swedish Chair of the EGMP, assured that the future will be sustainable: “The one who delivers the solutions first will have the market – and our region is well placed to deliver [these solutions].

Following up on this, a second EGMP meeting is envisaged in March 2018. At this meeting, the work done so far in regards to the Integrated Maritime Sustainability Indicators will be presented and elaborated. The aim is to get useful insights on how to measure maritime sustainability with the help of the SMART criteria (Specific – Measurable – Assignable – Realistic – Time-related) , to get an overview of who is doing what, and which national project might be of special interest for each entity represented.

During the day, the Green Team Network intended to bring in relevant shipping industry, cluster and research stakeholders from the BSR and to introduce them to the project, its work plan and the next steps taken. Additionally, HELCOM and the CBSS co-hosted a session on cooperation on alternative fuels, green ship technologies and incentives in the Baltic Sea, in which CBSS Senior Adviser, Daria Akhutina, presented the Swedish Presidency priorities and key questions on maritime policy in the framework of the CBSS long-term priority “Sustainable & Prosperous Region”.

The Regional Cooperation Day also included a site visit to the newly-built ship-to-ship LNG bunkering ship ‘Coralius’ which is the first one of its kind built in Europe and will be mainly operating in the North Sea, the Skagerak area and the Baltic Sea, providing  the ships with the most viable alternative fuel (LNG) for the reduction of emissions.


During the Icelandic Presidency, the annual meeting of the EGMP took for the first time since its establishment place in Iceland. Under the title “Maritime Policy: Sharing Knowledge“, the meeting gathered on 14 March 2017 about 20 participants from the different spheres connected to maritime economy such as representatives from the ministries, transport authorities, research and academia. Pursuing a cross-sectorial and multi-disciplinary approach, the meeting discussed topics ranging from maritime/coastal tourism, energy efficiency to green shipping, renewable fuels and innovative ship technology.

It was confirmed that the Baltic Sea Region has long-lasting rich maritime traditions and experience in close interaction and therefore, the cooperation in the field of maritime policy/economy has a vast potential and should be further developed and supported. The CBSS EGMP shall play an important role in this process, providing politically coordinated support to relevant efforts, concrete initiatives, actions and projects which improve the BSR’ international competitiveness in the sustainable maritime economy.

Moreover, the EGMP members acknowledged the great value of Iceland in the expert group’s work. The participation of Iceland in the EGMP was confirmed to be on permanent basis from now on.

Concluding, the upcoming Swedish Presidency informed the participants about the intention to hold two meetings of EGMP during its presidency period, in autumn and in spring, focusing on UN Agenda and the UN SDGs (namely, goal No. 14).

Following the decision of the Committee of Senior Officials on the prolongation of the EGMP mandate until mid-2018, the Expert Group on Maritime Policy revised its Terms of Reference in order to reshape its ability to serve as a value-added tool for regional cooperation. Key tasks will focus on keeping maritime issues on the member-states policy makers’ agenda, including initiating meetings of Ministers of Transport, exchanging information on the member-states’ national maritime policies and strategies, and promoting clean shipping in the Baltic Sea.

Three regular meetings and a thematic seminar have been held under the Polish EGMP Chairmanship, where amongst others Norway, Poland and Sweden presented their newly adopted national maritime policy documents. The Expert Group was present at the Barents Euro-Arctic Council Transport Ministerial Meeting in Arkhangelsk, Russia on 21 June 2016.

The EGMP continues positioning the CBSS as a valuable partner in Baltic Sea Maritime Dialogue, taking full account of the activities within the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (PA Ship and PA Safe) and the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics. Within the frame of the Dialogue, the EGMP together with HELCOM Maritime Working Group organised the workshop Partnerships for Green Shipping during the European Maritime Day 2016 in Turku, Finland, which  aimed at promoting blue growth in shipping through partnerships, both public-private and business-to-business, whereas the business-to-business partnership was addressed by Zero Vision Tool (Sweden) and Napa Oy (Finland).

During the Polish CBSS Presidency the EGMP accepted the invitation to become an observer to the Reference Group of Zero Vision Tool (ZVT) – a collaboration method and tool for a safer, more environmental-friendly, energy efficient as well as more profitable transport at sea. The ZVT, developed in 2011, has its roots in Sweden, when in 2009 the Swedish Shipowners’ Association committed to the goals of the European Maritime Policy, as well as to the objectives of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

The ZVT Reference Group consists of representatives from government agencies and administrations, as well as industry representatives. Two other institutions that currently have the observer status are the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communication and the Swedish Ministry of Environment.

The Expert Group’s project orientation has been pursued though its participation in the International Steering Committee of the EUSBSR PA Ship, as well as by pre-selecting and suggesting relevant projects to be financed through the CBSS Project Support Facility (PSF). The “Small and medium-sized ports development challenges” project, led by Turku University, was approved for PSF funding during the Polish CBSS Presidency.

The Estonian chairmanship of the EGMP was carried out under the slogan “The Baltic Sea Connects” with the main focus on developing maritime transport links between small and medium size cargo ports, promoting the cruise industry in the region and creating a network and marketing strategy for yacht harbours.

14 June 2015, Jurmala, Latvia. Back-to-back with the EUSBSR Annual Forum, the EGMP co-organised the event “Promoting the Maritime Dimension in the Baltic Sea Cooperation” together with HA Neighbours, City of Turku, DG Mare, DG Regio, Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC), EUSBSR PA Safe and PA Ship. After welcoming words by Mikko Lohikosi, City of Turku, a panel discussion provided the delegation with a perspective from the European Commission. A number of key actors of the maritime sector spoke on ongoing actions and initiatives, which are dedicated to sustainable shipping, the digitalisation of maritime safety and regional cooperation. The event opened a discussion on issues, which also had a high profile during the Annual Forum in Jurmala 15- 16 June, where several panels and workshops addressed the topics of blue growth, maritime safety and initiatives for a cleaner Baltic Sea.

14 April 2015, Tallinn. Representatives of the EGMP Member States discussed the future work of the Group and concluded the drafting of the Concept Note.

30 January 2015, Tallinn. The 15th meeting of the EGMP took place in Tallinn on 30 January 2015, which hosted a number of guest speakers focusing on the cruise industry and maritime transport links in the Baltic Sea Region.

Development and use of green technology and alternative fuels in shipping in the Baltic Sea

Organised by The Finnish Presidency of the CBSS and HELCOM, in cooperation with the Baltic Development Forum (BDF) and the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL), a conference on “Sustainable Baltic Sea shipping, green technology and alternative fuels with focus on air emissions” took place on board the LNG fuelled passenger ship Viking Grace on 16th January 2014. The event brought together nearly 100 participants from the public and private sectors, policy makers, administrations, the business community, the finance expertise and research & development representatives. The aim of the conference was to develop a “Draft Roadmap for future actions”. The discussions focused on two main themes: technology development, and financial issues to promote pilot projects, acquisition of ships and retrofitting, as well as R & D in this field. A new cooperation forum, the “Green Technology and Alternative Fuels Platform in Baltic Sea Shipping” was also launched at the event. The Platform provides a forum for a structured dialogue between the public sector and the private stakeholders.

On September 28, 2012 the Expert Group on Maritime Policy convened in Moscow for its 10th regular meeting, which was the first one under Russia’s CBSS presidency 2012-2013. The meeting was chaired by the State Policy Department on Maritime and River Transport of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation. The Russian Chairmanship outlined its main priority topics for the Expert Group as well as its work calendar:

A. – Implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM) in the context of measures aimed at improving the ecological situation in the Baltic Sea region – 10th EGMP meeting, Moscow, 28 September 2012

B. – Maritime traffic management and surveillance in the Baltic Sea region as an effective safety and security component minimizing negative impact on the environment – 11th EGMP meeting, St.-Petersburg, 15 November 2012

C. – Implementation of annex VI of the MARPOL Convention-74/78 in the Baltic Sea region: first results and expectations – 12th EGMP Kaliningrad, 1st Quarter 2013 (March) back to back with a EGMP Workshop   Ms. Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary of HELCOM, has been invited by the Chair as guest speaker and observer.

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