By casting the role of the first EU macro-region to the Baltic Sea region, the European Commission has acknowledged its potential and possibilities. However, it is also a huge responsibility to prove that such a new method of European regional cooperation is viable, says Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis.
On 23 February, Foreign Minister participated in the public discussion “The Baltic Sea Region in the European Union”, organised by the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Institute of International Relations and Political Sciences of Vilnius University.
According to the Minister, endorsed by the European Council in 2009, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is the first macro-regional strategy of the EU aimed not only at a more intense integration and development of the Baltic Sea region, tackling common challenges in a more effective way, but also at making this regional approach a model for other EU regions to find inspiration in.
“Accomplishing the role of the first EU macro-region is a sign of acknowledgment of our potential, but it also means a huge responsibility, to prove that such a new method of European regional cooperation is viable,” Ažubalis said.
When speaking about deeper regional integration, the Minister singled out four priority areas: energy independence, enhancement of competitiveness of the region’s economy, improvement in transport in the Baltic Sea States, improved accessibility of the region and closer dialogue with the third countries.
Participants of the event also discussed a political and economic development of the Baltic Sea region, trends and perspectives for development, and sought to evaluate the impact of the EU Baltic Sea Region Strategy on Lithuania.
The guests at the seminar – Professor Bernd Henningsen from Humboldt University in Berlin and his colleague Dr. Tobias Etzold from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs – gave a lecture on the state of the political situation in the Baltic Sea region.
Participants had a discussion on the evaluation of the EU Baltic Sea Region Strategy impact on Lithuania and other countries of the Baltic Sea region. The final report includes proposals regarding the reforms of cooperation mechanisms and measures that are set out in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and that could help enable better representation of Lithuania’s interests.
The event was also attended by members of academic community, governmental institutions, foreign diplomats who reside in Lithuania, students of political science.
The seminar-discussion was organised as part of the project of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs entitled “The assessment of the participation of Lithuania in the EU initiatives.” The project is financed from the EU structural funds. Its main aim is to analyse the impact of Lithuania’s participation in various strategic initiatives of the EU.