33rd Executive Board meeting, Tønsberg, 2 February 2002

INTRODUCTION

The 33rd meeting of the Executive Board of the Union of the Baltic Cities was held on the 2nd of February 2002 in the City of Tønsberg, Norway, upon the invitation of Mr Harald Haug Andersen, Mayor of Tønsberg.

The meeting was attended by the Members of the Executive Board and invited guests.

The list of participants is attached to this report.

1.  Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda.

The 33rd meeting of the UBC Executive Board was opened by Mr Per Bødker Andersen, the President of the Union. Mr Andersen greeted all participants and wished them a successful meeting.

Mr Harald Haug Andersen, Mayor of Tønsberg, welcomed all delegates and wished them the fruitful discussions and a pleasant stay in Tønsberg. Mr Andersen made a short presentation introducing the city of Tønsberg, the oldest city on Norway.

President Andersen asked all participants to shortly introduce themselves, as it was the first meeting of the Executive Board elected at the VI General Conference in Rostock.

The meeting adopted the agenda.

2.   Election of two persons who, together with the President, will check the minutes.

Mr Arne Solhaug, Tønsberg and Ms Petra Hamann, Rostock, were elected to check the minutes together with the President.

3.   New Danish city in the Executive Board.

President Andersen informed that Mr Henning G. Jensen, Mayor of Aalborg, sent a letter informing that the city of Aalborg would no longer be able to be a member of the UBC Executive Board.

The Board expressed its thanks to the City of Aalborg and personally to Mr Kaj Kjaer, who was the member of the Board, for the outstanding contribution to the UBC work over the last several years.

Mr Andersen said the Danish member cities would elect the new Danish city to the Executive Board before the next Board meeting in June.

4.   Presentation of the report from the VI General Conference.

Secretary General Paweł Żaboklicki presented the report from the VI General Conference held in Rostock on 12-13 October 2001. The report includes the conference speeches, reports from the workshops, activity reports, statute, financial documents, conference resolutions and other documents. Mr Żaboklicki informed that the report has been sent out to the member cities, conference participants and to the numerous Baltic and European organisations and institutions.

5.  Information from the Council of the Baltic Sea States on the CBSS Ministerial Session in Svetlogorsk.

Ambassador Alexiej A. Obukhov, Chairman of the Committee of Senior Officials of the Council of the Baltic Sea States informed the Board, that the next CBSS Ministerial Session will be held in Svetlogorsk, on 5-6 March 2002. Mr Obukhov said that the session would be mainly devoted to the 10th Anniversary of CBSS. The CBSS shall assess whether it has fulfilled its goals in the last ten years. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Baltic Sea countries shall also discuss the current problems of the Baltic Sea region. Mr Obukhov informed that the invitation to attend the session was sent to President Per Bødker Andersen. UBC will be able to deliver the statement at the conference.

5.1  Report from the CBSS CSO meeting in Brussels, 25 January 2002.

President Andersen informed the Board that UBC was represented at the meeting by Mr Juhan Janusson and Mr Mikko Lohikoski.

Mr Juhan Janusson informed that UBC was invited to the special session of the Committee of Senior Officials of the Council of the Baltic Sea States devoted to the implementation of the Northern Dimension Action Plan CBSS list of priorities and project. UBC was one of organisations which assisted CBSS in compiling the mentioned list.

In the statement submitted at the meeting, UBC put forward the following proposals:

1. The development of the Northern Dimension must continue and should not yet be considered as something finalised - there are still several problems attached to the implementation of EU policies in the Baltic Sea Region. CBSS can be a co-ordinating partner in that work, taking into account the excellent and very friendly co-operation and openness towards sub-national organisations like UBC.

2. We might start thinking of the creation of an "Eastern Dimension", perhaps through a think-tank or informal working group that can discuss these issues. CBSS could be a very feasible co-ordinating partner also in that process, because UBC feels confident that in such a case also UBC would be invited to participate.

Mr Mikko Lohikoski, Turku, noted that during the CBSS meeting several countries stressed the great importance of people-to-people relations, in addition to the hard investments and infrastructure projects. A bottom-up approach, stressing grass-roots contacts, NGO cooperation and sub-regional contacts, was much needed to promote Baltic cooperation on citizens´ level. For this purpose also the importance of small projects funding (Phare, Tacis) was emphasized in several statements. Mr Lohikoski proposed, that UBC could write to the CBSS about strengthening of these people-to-people relations. For example, it could be proposed that the Baltic NGO conferences would be included in the annual programme of the CBSS.

The representatatives of European Commission had invited comments and ideas on the White Paper on Governance before 31. March 2002. Mr Lohikoski proposed, that UBC should work out its own proposals on this important issue. These proposals could include concrete ideas about funding as well as participation - such as exchange mechanism of city experts with the EC, better mechanisms to voice the concerns of cities to the EC, etc. These should be coordinated with other organisations, notably Eurocities. Mr Lohikoski said Turku was interested to work on this issue.

One important issue of Northern Dimension was the emerging Northern eDimension and its action programme NeDAP. Various working groups are being established. Mr Lohikoski stressed it would be useful to involve UBC in some way in this process, especially as there was a need for coordination with the work of the proposed IT commission of UBC. He said he spoke about possible UBC´s role to Ambassador Palme of Sweden, who had initially reacted positively. UBC could possibly make a proposal about this to the CBSS.

Decision

The Board took note of the reports. The Board authorised the city of Turku to implement proposed actions.

5.2  Information on Baltic Sea Fund for Subregional Cooperation.

Mr Anders Engström reminded that the initiative to establish a financing facility for subregional and local cooperation in the BSR was launched within the framework of CBSS. The initiative was generally accepted at the 10th CBSS Ministerial session in Hamburg, June 2001. The initiative was warmly welcomed by UBC and other Baltic organisations. The heads of Baltic organisations sent a common of appeal (enclosed) to the ministers of foreign affairs of Baltic Sea countries to execute this much-needed financing instrument for decentralised cooperation in the region. Most of Baltic Sea countries pledged the resources to the fund except Finland, Germany and Sweden. The luck of support of mentioned rich states caused the failure of this attempt to launch the fund.

The Board took note of the information. The Board expressed its hope that rather sooner than later such fund for local cooperation in the BSR will be established by the governments of the Baltic Sea countries, as there is a strong demand from the cities to create such a fund.

6.  UBC Action Plan 2002-2003 - 1st draft.

Mr Per Bødker Andersen informed that the first draft of the UBC Action Plan 2002-2003 was prepared by Mr Juhan Janusson and Mr Paweł Żaboklicki. The President said that the Action Plan should be adopted by the Board at the next meeting in June. Mr Andersen went through the document point by point. The Board members proposed several amendments to the first draft of the Action Plan.

Decision:

The Board authorised Mr Janusson and Mr Żaboklicki to insert agreed amendments into the document. The second draft should be sent to the Board members in the next weeks. Afterwards the document shall be sent out to all member cities for comments.

7.  Possible political role for the UBC Commissions.

President Per Bødker Andersen put forward a question whether UBC Commissions should involve not only experts but also politicians in their work. The Board members received a background paper on this issue compiled by Mr Juhan Janusson.

Mr Andersen stressed that the UBC Commissions are excellent platforms for local politicians to influence for example EU policies in different areas. Moreover the politicians could use their contacts to lobby Commissions' projects for example in Brussels, that would help the Commissions to obtain funding for their projects.

In the discussion the Board members expressed opinions that involving city politicians in the work of the Commissions could be beneficial for the Commissions and for the UBC.

Decision:

The Board decided to send the background paper to the Commissions and Member Cities asking  city politicians to be more involved in the work of the Commissions.

8. Proposal to establish the UBC Youth Network.

President Per Bødker Andersen informed that Ms Ina Werner from the Baltic Sea Secretariat for Youth in Kiel, sent a letter to UBC with the proposal to establish the UBC Youth Network.

Ms Ina Werner expressed an opinion that UBC should allow the young generation from member cities to influence and participate in the UBC work. This could be achieved through the creation of UBC Youth Network, which could be a platform for young citizens to express their views and carry out initiatives and projects. Ms Werner presented the potential goals and tasks of the UBC Youth Network, attached to the minutes.

Decision:

The Board was positive to the idea to create the UBC Youth Network. The Network should involve both representatives of youth as well as civil servants responsible for youth matters in the cities. The Board authorised the cities of Kalmar, Kiel, Kolding and Tallinn to work out, together with Ms Ina Werner, a final proposal including the goals, tasks and structure of the Network. The final decision will be taken at the next Board meeting in June.

9.  Proposal from St.Petersburg concerning the Commission on Information Society.

President Andersen reminded that the city of St.Petersburg put forward the proposal to establish the UBC Commission on IS already in February 2001. The UBC Board in Cesis in March 2001 authorised St.Petersburg to organise a conference to discuss the ways of UBC involvement in the IT sector. The conference has not been organised.

Ms Elena Ivanova, St.Petersburg, repeated the proposal to establish the UBC Commission on Information Society and proposed the main directions of activities for the Commission on IS.

Decision:

The Board authorised the cities of St.Petersburg, Stockholm, Tampere, Turku and other cities interested in IT sector, to hold a meeting and discuss the question whether UBC should create the Commission on IS.

10. UBC-LVRLAC cooperation - update.

Mr Juhan Janusson informed that in March he and Mr Anders Engström are planning to visit Uganda to discuss the further steps of the project. He added that SIDA shall employ consultant who shall be responsible for practical and procedural questions related to the project.

Mr Pertti Paltila, Tampere, informed that the City of Tampere is involved in the pilot project with the City of Mwanza, which is also the member of LVRLAC.

Decision:

The Board authorised Mr Anders Engström to represent UBC in the project.

11. Cooperation with Eurocities.

President Andersen reminded that the cooperation agreement between UBC and Eurocities was worked out but was not signed due to the shift of Eurocities authorities. The President proposed that UBC should contact Eurocities and ask whether they are still willing to sign the agreement of cooperation with UBC.

Decision:

The Board maintained UBC will to sign the cooperation agreement with Eurocities. The Board decided that UBC shall contact the Eurocities and ask whether Eurocities is still willing to sign the cooperation agreement with UBC.

12. Reports from the conferences and meetings attended by Union representatives.

  • Eurocities Conference, Malmö/Copenhagen, 25-26 October 2001
  • BSSSC Conference, Riga, 26-27 October 2001
  • Conference on Environmental Governance, Brussels, 3-4 December 2001
  • SALA Baltic Sea Forum, Stockholm, 13 December 2001

President Andersen reminded that the written reports from mentioned above conferences were sent to the Board members in advance. The Board took note of the reports.

13. Proposal from the Board of Audit.

At the VI General Conference in Rostock, 13 October 2001, the Board of Audit proposed to the General Conference to authorise the auditor to check in the annual auditor’s report, the accordance of UBC expenditure with the UBC budget, as it goes beyond the possibilities of the Board of Audit. The General Conference authorised the Executive Board to discuss this question.

Decision:

The Board authorised the auditor to check in the annual auditor's report, the accordance of UBC expenditure with the UBC budget.

14. Board meetings - weekends or weekdays ?

President Andersen informed the Board that the City of Stockholm put forward a question whether UBC Board meetings could be held on weekdays instead of the weekends.

Mr Andersen said that according to the calculation made by the secretariat, the cost difference for UBC, between the economy class tickets and business class tickets is minimum 16.000 Euro annually. Such resources are not available in the budget.

Decision:

Having in mind above, the Board decided to maintain the present system to hold the meetings at the weekends. The Board agreed that if possible the part of the meeting shall be held in Friday afternoon and part of the meeting on Saturday morning, so they participants who wish so could leave on Saturday afternoon.

15. Questions raised at the meeting.

15.1 Application for UBC membership. 

Mr Tõnu Karu, Tallinn, informed the Board about the application for Union membership submitted by the city of Maardu, Estonia. Maardu is located 15 km from Tallinn and has 15.700 inhabitants.

Decision:

The Board decided to accept the city of Maardu as 101st Member of the Union of the Baltic Cities and wished Maardu a fruitful cooperation with other UBC member cities. The updated list of member cities is enclosed.

15.2 Proposals from the Commission on Environment.

President Andersen informed that the Commission on Environment secretariat submitted the following proposals:

1. To add more partner organisations into the UBC Agenda 21 Action Program 2002-2003

2. To nominate UBC representative to the Political Board of the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign

Decisions:

1. The Board authorised the Commission secretariat to add mentioned organisations to the Program. The Board authorised the Commission secretariat to make all necessary amendments in the program in the future.

2. The Board decided to nominate President Per Bødker Andersen to the Political Board of the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign.

15.3 Membership fees.

Secretary General Paweł Żaboklicki informed the Board that all member cities paid the membership fees for the year 2001, except the city of Sestroretsk. The table showing the amounts and dates of payments is enclosed to the minutes.

Ms Elena Ivanova, St.Petersburg, informed the Board that the fee for 2001 for the city of Sestroretsk is to be transferred to the UBC account on 6 February 2002.

The Board took note of the information and encouraged all member cities to transfer the membership fees in time.

15.4 External requests for projects support.

The German Ministry of Economics in Berlin asked for UBC support to the project named "Internet Gateway Conception - a Baltic Sea wide Internet portal, an instrument for marketing tourism destinations and travel products". The request letter is enclosed to the minutes.

Decision:

The Board decided to ask the Commission on Tourism for the opinion whether UBC should support this project.

The Association for Housing, Urban and Regional Development from Berlin asked for UBC support to the project named "EuRoB - European Route of Brick Gothic". The request letter is enclosed to the minutes.

Decision:

The Board decided to ask the Commission on Culture and the Commission on Tourism for the opinion whether UBC should support this project.

15.5 President Andersen informed about the extension of engagement of Mr Juhan Janusson till 31 October 2002, with the function Adviser to the President. Mr Andersen reminded that the costs of employment and travels of Mr Janusson are to be covered from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and from the SIDA-LVRLAC project.

15.6 Mr Tõnu Karu informed that:

  • the city of Narva offered to host the meeting of the Commission on Sport in October 2002, and to organise the UBC salmon fishing competition on Narva river at the same time;
  • the city of Paldiski offered to host the meeting of the Commission on Transportation in October 2002.

Mr Karu also informed the Board about the IASP European Conference on Science and Technology Parks to be held in Tallinn on 9-11 June 2002. More information at http://iasp2002tallinn.tuic.ee

16. Next meeting of the Executive Board.

President Andersen informed that the UBC Board member city from Estonia - the city of Kuressaare, proposed to hold the next UBC Executive Board meeting in the city of Viljandi, following an invitation from Mr Peep Aru, the Mayor of Viljandi.

Decision:

The Board decided to hold its 34th meeting in the City of Viljandi, Estonia, on 6-9 June 2002.

17. Closing of the Meeting.

Mr Per Bødker Andersen expressed his thanks to all participants for the fruitful meeting and to the City of Tønsberg for its warm hospitality and closed the 33rd Meeting of the Executive Board of the Union of the Baltic Cities.

Mr Per Bødker Andersen  - Chairman
Mr Paweł Żaboklicki - Secretary
Mr Arne Solhaug  - Adjuster
Ms Petra Hamann - Adjuster