Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region

Baltic Sea coast, Germany

Baltic Sea coast, Germany, © picture alliance / Zoonar

01.07.2023 - Article

Germany cooperates with its neighbours in the Baltic Sea Region in a host of international formats: the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the Northern Dimension. On 1 July 2023, Germany will hand over the Presidency of the CBSS to Finland.

Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS)

Family photo of the CBSS Foreign Ministers at the harbour of Wismar, 1-2 June 2023.
Family photo of the CBSS Foreign Ministers at the harbour of Wismar, 1-2 June 2023.© Janine Schmitz/photothek.de

On 1 July 2023, Finland succeeded Germany and took over the CBSS Presidency, which rotates between member states on an annual basis. Germany’s one-year Presidency (1 July 2022 – 30 June 2023) focused on three priorities – promoting offshore wind energy, clearing munitions dumped in the Baltic Sea as well as intensifying the participation of young people in the Baltic Sea Region.

At the end of Germany’s Presidency, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock hosted the Ministerial Session of the CBSS in Wismar on 1 and 2 June 2023. One of the issues discussed at this meeting was strengthening our joint security in the Baltic Sea Region.

The Council of the Baltic Sea States was established in 1992 at the initiative of the Foreign Ministers of Germany and Denmark, in order to stabilise the Baltic Sea region and support its political and economic transformation. Since its inception, the CBSS has evolved into a broad network of inter-state cooperation in many spheres affecting the Baltic. The CBSS has three long-term priorities:

  • fostering regional identity
  • developing a sustainable and prosperous region
  • creating a safe and secure region

It comprises eight Baltic Sea coastal states – Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Sweden – as well as Iceland, Norway and the EU. Russia’s membership was suspended in March 2022 in response to its war of aggression against Ukraine. The country subsequently withdrew from the Council in May 2022. The CBSS Secretariat is based in Stockholm.

Further information about the CBSS and its activities can be found at www.cbss.org.

EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) was launched in 2009 as a pilot project for a new form of cross-border regional cooperation within the EU. It is now one of four macroregional strategies. Its remit is regional strategic planning for the Baltic Sea states, coordinated through the EU. Overall direction is provided by the Council of the European Union; the Strategy and its Action Plan are evaluated every two years. The Action Plan on implementation places a strategic focus on three objectives:

  • saving the Baltic sea
  • connecting the region
  • increasing prosperity

As part of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, an annual forum is held to provide a platform for discussion between the stakeholders involved in implementing the Strategy.

Further information about the Strategy, its implementation and the annual forums can be found at www.balticsea-region-strategy.eu.

Northern Dimension

The Northern Dimension (ND) is a joint regional policy of four partners: the EU, Iceland, Norway and Russia. It provides a joint framework for dialogue and cooperation with a view to fostering integration, competitiveness and sustainable development. The Northern Dimension covers a broad geographical area in northern Europe, including the far north, the Barents Sea region, the Baltic Sea Region and north-western Russia.

The Northern Dimension is based on four partnerships: the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP), the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL), the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS) and the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC).

On 8 March 2022, the EU, Norway and Iceland released a joint statement announcing the suspension of their cooperation with Russia within the Northern Dimension in light of the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Further information about the Northern Dimension can be found at www.northerndimension.info.


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