Baltic and European news
EU plan to improve Baltic marine environment
Efforts to tackle the severe environmental degradation of the Baltic Sea will receive political support at the highest level under a plan for the development of the region unveiled by the European Commission on Wednesday.
The EU Baltic Sea strategy was originally requested by European heads of state and government in December 2007 (EE 17/12/07 http://www.endseurope.com/14460). The leaders demanded a regional development strategy including measures to help address the region's "urgent environmental challenges".
The plan will give new impetus to efforts to stop the sea's degradation, commission officials said on Wednesday. Previous initiatives such as Helcom's Baltic Sea action plan have had "limited effect" on their own, but will be incorporated into the new strategy, EU commissioner for regional policy Danuta Hubner told a press conference in Brussels (EE 09/04/09 http://www.endseurope.com/21110).
Wednesday's strategy is built on four pillars, one of which is to make the region environmentally sustainable. An action plan lists 80 initiatives agreed by member states following a consultation. For example, the region aims to phase out phosphates in detergents by 2012 to combat eutrophication.
The strategy's objectives will be achieved through "much deeper coordination" of institutions, policies and investment in the Baltic Sea region. It does not propose new structures, legislation or funds. The EU has earmarked E10bn for the Baltic environment for 2007-13. The commission will have a strong role, for example in monitoring.
Speaking in Brussels, Ms Hubner said the strategy was the EU's first "macro-regional" plan and a first step towards the regional implementation of the EU's integrated maritime policy (EE 06/02/09 http://www.endseurope.com/20587).
EU leaders meeting in Brussels next week are expected to call for the commission to present a similar strategy for the Danube region by 2010. Draft conclusions for next week's meeting state they want to adopt the Baltic strategy at their next summit in October. Sweden has already said the Baltic will be a priority under its EU presidency from July (EE 07/04/09 http://www.endseurope.com/21095).
Follow-up: European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/index_en.htm plus press release
See also strategy homepage http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/cooperation/baltic/ for more information including examples of projects.
ENDS Europe Daily is Europe's leading environmental news service. A free trial is available by clicking on the following link: http://www.endseuropedaily.com/web/helcom.