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Interreg III BSR and Baltic 21: A mid-term assessment


and its Reflection of the

Baltic 21 Action Programme

A Mid-Term Assessment


Angela Schultz-Zehden

Sustainable Projects

Berlin, March 2006


1. Introduction 3

1.1. Baltic 21 3

1.2. Interreg III B BSR Neighbourhood Programme 3

1.3. Purpose of this Report 6

1.4. Assessment Method 6

1.5. Report Structure 7

2. Executive Summary 9

3. The Baltic 21 Action Programme and its reflection in Interreg projects 11

3.1. Joint Action relevant Interreg projects 11

3.1.1 Increased production and use of bioenergy and other renewable energy 11

3.1.2 Use of regional fora and networks for sustainable development 12

3.1.3 Establishment of demonstration areas and pilot projects for proving sustainable development in practice 15

3.1.4 City co-operation and sustainable development issues in cities and communities 15

3.1.5 Procurement of technologies for sustainable development 16

3.1.6 Information for sustainable development 17

3.1.7 Increasing consumer awareness of sustainable development 18

3.2. Sector Action relevant Interreg projects 18

3.2.1 Agriculture Sector 18

3.2.2 Energy Sector 19

3.2.3 Fisheries sector 20

3.2.4 Forests Sector 20

3.2.5 Industry Sector 21

3.2.6 Tourism Sector 22

3.2.7 Transport Sector 24

3.2.8 Education Sector 29

3.3. Spatial planning actions relevant Interreg projects 30

4. Best Practice, Policy Impacts and Tools for SD 34

5. Conclusions 36

5.1. General Conclusions 36

5.2. Summary of Gaps identified 37

5.2.1 Introduction 37

5.2.2 Joint Action Gaps 37

5.2.3 Sector Action Gaps 39

5.2.4 Spatial Planning Action Gaps 40

5.3. LHP Development 40

5.3.1 Upgrading current projects 40

5.3.2 Current Status of Programming for New EU Facility 41

5.3.3 New LHP Themes proposed by Baltic 21 Sectors / Joint Actions 42

5.3.4 Other Possible New LHP Themes as derived from Gap Analysis 44

6. Concluding Remarks 47

7. Annexes 48

7.1. Overview of INTERREG projects 48

7.2. Sample Questionnaire 51


Table 1: Overview on Macro-regional INTERREG projects 13

Table 2: Geographic Scope of INTERREG macro-region projects 14

Table 3: Overview on Tourism Related INTERREG Projects 23

Table 4: Overview on Transport Projects 26

Table 5: Geographic Scope of Transport Projects 28

Table 6: Overview on SD Results of Finalised INTERREG Projects 34

Table 7: Overview on expected SD results of ongoing INTERREG projects 35

Table 8: Overview on relevance of INTERREG projects to B21 Sectors / Joint Actions 48

  1. Introduction

    1. Baltic 21

The Baltic Sea Region was the first multi-country region in the world to adopt common goals and actions for sustainable development. The vehicle for that cooperation is Baltic 21, formally “An Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region”, a multi-stakeholder process linking government, industry, finance and civil sector actors, together with the European Commission, around a specific program for action.

The emphasis of Baltic 21 is on regional cooperation and on the environment and its bearing on economic and social aspects of sustainable development. The work focuses on seven sectors of crucial economic and environmental importance in the region. For each sector, goals and scenarios for sustainable development have been elaborated as well as sector action programmes. In addition Joint Actions have been defined which address issues concerning several sectors.
After a review of the first five years of the Baltic 21 process and the challenges ahead Baltic 21 refocused and streamlined its work around the following four action areas:

  1. Supporting the CBSS and its processes in the pursuit of sustainable development

  2. Strengthening the involvement of Baltic 21 sectors and Spatial Planning in cross-sectoral work, and working towards achieving the agreed goals and visions;

  3. Adopting and acting as the umbrella for a focused set of “Lighthouse projects” designed to demonstrate sustainable development in action, and

  4. Identifying funding sources to support the Lighthouse Projects and other region-level sustainable development initiatives.
    1. Interreg III B BSR Neighbourhood Programme

The Baltic Sea Region INTERREG III B Neighbourhood Programme (2000-2006) is the Community Initiative concerning transnational co-operation on spatial planning and regional development (including two cross-border cooperation priorities) for the Baltic Sea region.

The Programme was prepared by a Joint Programming Committee (JPC) in a close consultation process with the Member States' ministries. The total eligible budgets for the EU part of the programme was 214,6 MEUR. In addition Norway contributed 12,7 MEUR for the participation of Norwegian partners in the programme. The EU Commission approved the Programme on 14th September 2001 and within the same month the first call for project proposals was launched. Since then eight different calls for applications have been launched and 126 projects approved. With the last call in September 2005 all programme funds have been allocated and no more projects can be accepted in the framework of INTERREGIIIB BSR.
While the projects of the last application rounds have only started with their activities and will still be running until the end of 2007, some 40 projects of the first calls have in the meantime already been closed.
The projects of the first five application rounds were only eligible to the “old” EU BSR countries, but often co-operated with project partners from the non-EU E-BSR countries in the framework of the Phare facility. This facility was, however, neither streamlined with the INTERREGIIIB BSR programme nor with its implementation procedures. This is for instance demonstrated by the fact that projects approved under INTERREGIIIB BSR did not automatically receive the approval of Phare; whereas INTERREGIIIB BSR projects normally run for a three year period many of the Phare small-scale projects only run for one year and reporting/financing procedures differed widely. Nevertheless also many of the earlier INTERREGIIIB BSR projects include partners from the E-BSR countries as it was at least possible to finance their participation in know-exchange initiatives through INTERREGIIIB BSR partner funds.
Since their accession to the European Union in 2004, the INTERREGIIIB BSR programme has also been opened to the new EU member states in the E-BSR. Furthermore cooperation with the remaining non-EU E-BSR countries was facilitated in 2005 for the 7th and 8th application rounds by the introduction of a joint application / project approval process.
The overarching strategic objective of the INTERREGIIIB BSR programme was to
Strengthen economic, social and spatial cohesion by promoting transnational economic relationships in order to reach an increased level of BSR integration and to form a region with sustainable growth prospects.”
This objective should be achieved through1:
1. Expanding the BSR economy and strengthening its position in the global economy

The programme should prepare framework conditions for a stronger BSR economy and lay the ground for following investments in that respect.

2. Promoting a territorial balance by supporting weak points and building on strong points

The programme should address disparities and should develop strategies, actions and exemplatory solutions on how to overcome them in a balanced way:…. Continuing disparities can in the long run result in marginalisation of some nations, uncontrolled migration, depopulation and ageing of lagging regions left in semi-permanent dependency on governments’ transfers, over utilisation of non-renewable resources and growing political tension.

3. Facilitating efficient utilisation of limited resources

The programme should demonstrate ways and means of how a more efficient use of BSR resources can be achieved while paying attention to minimising possibility of spatial conflicts by developing common criteria for the protection as well as the exploitation of the BSR resources: Transnational co-operation helps in the efficient utilisation of limited resources not only through exchange of experience but also through identifying the externality problem at regional level (e.g. with regard to nature: swamps, forests). This is in particular important in some countries.. where focus on short-term benefits…prevails…. Spatial planning also contributes to better utilisation of limited resources…thanks to diminishing physical barriers of distance, improving ICT connections…providing synergy….and ensuring cross-sectoral and Key issues:….efficient use of water resources.. more efficient exploitation of the natural resources.., sustainable tourist products exploiting but at the same time sustaining BSR nature; more efficient and more sustainable use of coastal zone...

4. Forming a sustainable part of Europe

The programme should contribute to legal and planning solutions as well as deliver best practice examples and investment proposals on how sustainable development of the region can be better achieved: Spatial planning contributes to a strengthening of integrated cross-sectoral management by providing a framework for balancing ecological, social and economic aspects of sustainable development. Special attention shall be taken to use, protect and improve the valuable natural and cultural landscapes. Efforts shall be taken to support and contribute to the implementation of the Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region. Sustainable development in the region is challenged by the rapid growth in traffic, air and water pollution, inadequate waste disposal etc. and endangered through economic imbalances and social segregation.

The objectives and strategies of the INTERREGIIIB BSR programme were supposed to achieved through the following priorities and measures:
Priority 1. Promotion of spatial development approaches and actions for specific territories and sectors

Measure 1.1. Supporting joint strategies and implementation actions for macro-regions

Measure 1.2. Promoting sustainable spatial development of specific sectors

Measure 1.3. Strengthening integrated development of coastal zones, islands and other specific areas

Priority 2. Promotion of territorial structures supporting sustainable BSR development

Measure 2.1. Promoting balanced polycentric settlement structures

Measure 2.2. Creating sustainable communication links for improved spatial integration

Measure 2.3. Enhancing good management of cultural and natural heritage and of natural resources

Priority 3. Transnational and bilateral institution and capacity building in the Baltic Sea Region

Measure 3.1. Promotion of transnational institution and capacity building

Measure 3.2. Bilateral maritime cooperation across the Baltic Sea
Priority 4. Special support for regions bordering candidate countries*

The vision and objectives of the INTERREGIIIB BSR project were generally – as in all INTERREG strands - based on the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) and more in particular – for the BSR - on VASAB and its new vision programme VASAB 2010+.

The programme itself notes Baltic 21 as one of several other co-operation activities within the BSR2 from which it took guidance3, but did not further specify whether or how the INTERREG programme should contribute to the further development of those existing co-operations.
Within the Ex-Ante Evaluation Report attention was already drawn to the benefits of a close co-operation between INTERREG and Baltic 21:”…a linkage between INTERREG IIIB and Baltic 21 regarding the motoring of environmental effects might be considered” and further “the Baltic 21 Action programme is an elementary part of the Baltic Sea co-operation and thus it should be co-ordinated with the INTERREG IIIB programme”4.
Concerning the issue of “sustainability” the Ex-Evaluation Report noted, that …”the question of sustainability should be an underlying and integrated aspect of the programme and not be reduced to certain measures….as the priorities and measures are designed, they give various opportunities for projects focusing on environmental issues... The use and meaning of sustainable development varies in the programme, as different aspects of sustainability are stressed related to the context and topic discussed. … a clear distinction between the concept of sustainability and environmental consideration is useful for making the aims of the programme consistent…. In order to support the environmental aspect in all projects, the evaluator recommends to include a “sustainability guideline for project design and management” into the “start package”.
For easy reading purposes the following report will refer to “INTERREG” only, always meaning in the framework of this report the specific INTERREG IIIB BSR facility.

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