Trelleborg, Sweden, 4 June 2010
The 58th meeting of the Executive Board of the Union of the Baltic Cities was held on 4 June 2010 in Trelleborg, Sweden, upon the invitation of Mr Ulf Bingsgård, Mayor of Trelleborg. The list of participants is attached to the minutes.
1. Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda.
The meeting was opened by Mr Per Bødker Andersen, Deputy Mayor of Kolding, President of the Union. Mr Andersen expressed his gratitude to the hosts of the meeting for inviting the UBC Executive Board to hold the meeting in Trelleborg. The meeting adopted the agenda - attached to the minutes.
2. Welcome by the Mayor of Trelleborg, presentation of Trelleborg.
Mr Ulf Bingsgård, Mayor of Trelleborg, welcomed all participants and wished them a fruitful meeting. He presented the city and its main attractions.
Trelleborg is Sweden's southernmost municipality. The area is 341 square kilometers of which 86 % is arable land, 10 % - built-up land, 1 % - forest. There are currently 42 040 inhabitants.
In 1995, "Trelleborgen", a reconstructed Viking fortress, was opened. The remains of the original fortress were found in the center of the city of Trelleborg. This unique fortress was probably built by the Viking king Harald Blue Tooth in the 10th c. A.D.
The vision of the municipality of Trelleborg drawn up in 2008 is that the city shall be a forward thinking municipality with a high standard of living and long-term sustainable growth.
Trelleborg is a seat of many companies e.g. TT-lines, Scandlines, Safeaero, Pergo, DUX, FMT. The Trelleborg Port is one of the Sweden's strategically important ports. Additionally, there are four marinas.
3. Election of two persons who, together with the President, will check the minutes.
Ms Charlotta Svanberg, Deputy Mayor of Växjö, and Ms Urve Tiidus, Mayor of Kuressaare, were elected to check the minutes together with the President.
4. Activity reports of the Commissions.
Mr Per Bødker Andersen reminded that one of the tasks of the UBC Strategy adopted at X UBC General Conference in Kristiansand, in September 2009, was to energize the UBC Commissions' work and optimize the use of resources. Following the recommendation of the Board of Audit, it was decided to invite 3-4 UBC Commissions to the Board Meetings to get acquainted with the Commissions' current activities and achievements.
At the 58th UBC Board meeting in Trelleborg four Commissions were present: Business Cooperation, Education, Energy, Environment.
Commission on Business Cooperation
Mr Wolfgang Schmidt, Chairman of the Commission on Business Cooperation, Kiel, presented the report and the action plan for the next months. The report is attached to the minutes.
He reminded that since October 2009 there had been discussions on the possible merger of the BizCom with the Commission on Information Society and the process would be continued.
Mr Schmidt listed the main ideas of the Commission. At the BizCom meeting in Kolding, it was decided that the Commission should focus on the following topics: reactivation of the Commission, marketing the BSR, science parks.
In April 2010 the city of Tallinn and the UBC Commission on Business Cooperation organized a joint roundtable on "Subsidized jobs in Europe - ideology, legislation and practice". The purpose of this meeting was to collect expertise about emergency measures to fight unemployment in different European cities. The roundtable showed that the Union of the Baltic Cities is an alliance that brings direct benefit to its members. Sharing experiences and collecting new ideas is an important measure to answer the challenges of current crisis and ongoing globalization.
Mr Schmidt referred also to the Flagship Project "Promote young entrepreneurs". The Chairman of the Commission participated together with Ms Annely Veevo, Head of the Commission on Education Secretariat, in the kick-off meeting on 20 May 2010 in Copenhagen.
Mr Schmidt admitted that the Commission's revival was a major and challenging goal. Its existence and activities must be re-born in the cities' awareness by providing regular information and meetings. Moreover, the questionnaire on the cities expectations and needs is planned. There have been also discussions about the future secretariat which is now placed in Kaunas.
Mr Andersen appealed to the Board members to spread out the information on the Commission's reactivation.
Mr Schmidt informed that one of the topical issues of the UBC Commission on Business Cooperation in 2010 had been the implementation and management of Science Parks. Sophia Antipolis, situated at the French Riviera near the city of Nice, has served as a model for Science Parks worldwide. In cooperation with Sophia Antipolis Science Park and back to back with an international cluster conference, BizCom will hold its annual meeting in November 2010 in Sophia Antipolis.
Mr Schmidt focused on the necessity of cooperation between cities, universities and business. He informed that there were 32 thousands of students in Kiel who could be a workforce in the region. The companies always follow the workforce. The city should provide the ground for the exchange between the science and the business.
Mr Schmidt emphasized that only the whole Baltic Sea Region could be competitive to Brazil, China or India in the globalized world. But it is necessary to consolidate a Baltic identity, to increase the region's visibility. Therefore, marketing BSR has become one of the focus areas of the Commission. Two EU funded projects Baltic Sea Identity and BaltMet Promo, in which BizCom participates, aim at defining the Baltic Sea Region identity and a brand. Mr Schmidt briefly presented the main ideas of the BaltMet Promo. This project is targeted at one market, e.g. Japan, at a specific group of people. The next step after distinguishing the target group is to find the arguments that convince the people from Japan or China to come to the Baltic Sea Region.
Mikko Lohikoski, the city of Turku, said that Turku wanted to actively join the Commission on Business Cooperation. Mikko Lohikoski added that the cooperation between Baltmet and UBC could be broadened. The UBC was offered to form an alliance with the Baltic Metropoles which could speak in the name of the Baltic cities towards Brussels. Mr Lohikoski suggested that the UBC should positively respond to that proposal. Maybe other UBC Commissions, following the BizCom example, could find possibilities of cooperation.
Mr Schmidt ensured that the city of Kiel was interested in the Commission's development. However, it requires a lot of resources and travels and sometimes the restrictions of the UBC budget makes it difficult. (commissions receive 3500 EUR for travels/secretariat and 6500 for activities annually). The UBC has already a voice in the BSR and a good network of contacts. In the opinion of Mr Schmidt, the UBC has to make its work more concrete.
Mr Gunars Ansins, Deputy Mayor of Liepāja, reminded that in 2002 Liepāja and Kolding had been responsible for the Commission's reactivation but unfortunately their efforts had brought no results. He suggested increasing the Commission's budget. In his opinion, more intensive cooperation may bring more opportunities but the Commission's development would not be possible without money.
Mr Schmidt emphasized the problem was not only the money. The most important thing is to see the challenges and at the same time the chances that the UBC has as a network. It is necessary to find the common goals, share knowledge and then use the solutions in particular regions.
Mr Lohikoski pointed out that the new UBC Strategy provided the opportunity to raise the funds for those Commissions who would carry out the important work. He reminded that the funding should be based on the evaluation of the Commissions' work.
Mr Andersen added that it seemed to be a time for reflection on the UBC's structure. During the next meeting the Board should think how to modernize the way the Commissions' are treated. The conditions for evaluation of the Commissions' work have to be laid down and also the possible mergers of the Commissions should be discussed.
Commission on Education
Mr Kurt Pettersson, Chairman of the Commission on Education, Norrtälje, presented the Commission's activities. The report is attached to the minutes.
At the Commission's meeting in Tallinn on 3 April 2009 the board decided to start working on a network of nature schools in the Baltic Sea Region. The project successfully applied for support from the Nordic Council of Ministers. The first course for 20 participants will start at Erken Laboratory and Färsna farm in August. The project will last 3 years.
Another successful project is Erken Laboratory Research School. 15 participants aged 18-19 years old from nine countries around the Baltic Sea will take part in this year edition on 14 June - 10 July 2010. Also, a new application was made for 2011 to the Swedish Institute.
Mr Pettersson informed that the Commission planned the research for education systems in the UBC countries. UBC Commission on Education is the first place where people will ask about education in UBC cities and countries. It is elementary to have such information. The report will be uploaded to UBC webpage. The research will be finalized by the end of August 2010.
Moreover, the Commission is working on the environmental project "Interactive Baltic Sea Program for Youth" led by Kadri Randma, Kärdla. This program consists of five parts: coast survey, informative text reading, tests and quizzes, essays, drawing.
Mr Pettersson mentioned that Mr Anders Olander, Norrtälje had been working on creating a network for vocational education, similar to the network for nature schools and centers. He informed that UBC cities would be contacted in order to have a meeting during the annual meeting of the commission in September in Tallinn.
Mr Pettersson referred to the presentation of Mr Wolfgang Schmidt saying the vocational education is close to the interests and aims of the Commission on Business Cooperation. The universities can provide the educational programmes focused on specific skills demanded by the companies. Vocational education is a connecting point of business and science.
Mr Pettersson invited other cities to involve in the Commission's projects, to come out with the initiatives.
President Andersen concluded that educational questions were very crucial. He asked how we could do even more networking on the educational issues.
Mr Pettersson responded that it was possible to find connections with other UBC Commissions, e.g. Commission on Business Cooperation. There are many fields where the networking could be useful to improve the educational programmes.
Mr Schmidt pointed at three main areas where the interests of the Commission on Education and BizCom could meet - science parks, research on the skills required in the next 10 years in the BSR, exchange of international students between universities in the region.
President Andersen suggested asking the UBC members what skills would be expected from the workforce in the coming years. It would be necessary to find out if the universities are able to provide educational programmes responding to the needs of the companies.
Commission on Energy
Mr Stefan Windh, Co-chair of the Commission on Energy, Oskarshamn, presented the activities of the Commission. The report is attached to the minutes.
The Energy Commission's work is focused on the local municipal responsibilities and opportunities to provide the citizens and cities with sustainable and climate neutral energy. The customers are willing to invest in order to gain self-sufficiency, independence and control. This goes for individuals, families, house owners, SME operators and cities and other public entities. Clear guidance, viable offerings from the market and public incentives are strong drivers in this direction. The UBC Energy Commission is focused on providing this guidance in a BSR perspective.
The Commission has been active in different forums and EU-projects related to energy and environment. The ongoing project LED in public space has generated a lot of meetings and seminars where UBC has had the opportunity to present its view and strategies. Over 15 meetings and seminars has been attended in this capacity from Munich to Gdansk.
Joint Commissions' meetings has been conducted with the UBC Environment Commission and the Commission on Transportation. UBC Energy Commission has been present at the Energy conference in Stockholm gathering over 600 professionals and experts.
The Joint Energy and Climate Platform, of which the Commission is a member, has been coordinating the BDF summit in Vilnius in early June 2010. UBC Energy Commission had a seat at the panel discussion regarding the future energy system and Kaliningrad's integration into the energy market.
The UBC Environment Bulletin has been used on a regular basis for articles and information about different activities. The Commission is working on a new strategy that will be presented later.
Mr Windh informed the Commissions on Energy, Environment, Transport would like to cooperate more closely. The issues they deal with are intertwined. Combining the efforts, e.g. through the joint meetings, is necessary also to attract people. The Commission has a proposal for introducing the system of video conferences. Mr Windh said the infrastructure for having that kind of communication was available nowadays.
Ms Rönnmark was wondering about the problems with the distribution of the renewable energy and the conversion of Alternating Current into Direct Current. The development of the new wind farms, solar cells, etc. makes no sense without the DC distribution system. In her opinion the Commission on Energy should start a discussion on how to deal with this problem.
Mr Windh responded that there were certain programmes for interconnection, however they were decided on the high level as this issue concerned the whole European energy system. Municipalities have a limited resources within this area, though they have an interest in it. What the municipalities can do is to support them, but they cannot implement different electricity distribution systems. Mr Windh emphasized that this was a national and an international issue. He also informed that China had been introducing DC distribution which would result in enormous energy saving.
Ms Rönnmark asked why the cities and the UBC network could not be more powerful. Talking about the sustainability, also the energy must be taken into account. Mr Rönnmark suggested that the Commission should work on it.
Mr Windh ensured the Commission would be working with the energy efficiency matter which was considered as the most important issue.
President Andersen suggested initiating a dialog with the national energy suppliers.
Mr Windh noticed that in Europe the energy companies tend to separate the power grids from the electricity production. But the cities can produce their own energy making them less vulnerable and less dependent on the outside sources. That is why we are talking about the solar energy, wind farms or biomass, etc. That is a political decision of the cities. And the Commission must guide in that process.
Mr Andersen suggested then that the energy matters should be considered as a main theme of the next UBC General Conference. Ms Rönnmark supported this idea stressing the fact that the cities should be more powerful also in terms of the energy distribution. The conversion of AC into DC costs too much energy. In her opinion Europe should understand that.
Mr Gunars Ansins noted that in the Baltic Sea Region everybody was dreaming about the new energy sources. But the analysis on the needs for energy in 10, 20 years as well as on the savings for the city is highly demanded.
Mr Windh said that such analyses had been already prepared. Nordic Council of Ministers together with Baltic Development Forum made the comprehensive analysis of the future energy needs in the BSR including St. Petersburg and Ukraine up to 2050. This analysis predicts that the energy demand will be increasing.
Mr Jørgen Kristiansen informed about the new system in Kristiansand that turns off the electricity in the municipal buildings after the working hours. 20% of energy has been saved.
Mr Andersen asked the Commission on Energy to prepare the paper with the information on the future organization of the Commission's work so that the cities could sign up. Mr Windh ensured that the information would be disseminated.
Commission on Environment
Mr Björn Grönholm, Head of the Environment and Sustainable Development Secretariat, Commission on Environment, Turku, presented the EnvCom activities. The report is attached to the minutes.
Mr Grönholm presented the challenges for a sustainable BSR, namely geographic & economic concentration, aging population and migration, inefficient energy consumption and availability, traffic, transport and accessibility problems, state of the Baltic Sea, climate change and last - but not least - global financial crisis.
The mission of the UBC Commission on Environment is to tackle those challenges by all the means provided by the efficient network through sharing of problems, information and knowledge, approaches and solutions. Plans and activities for the UBC Sustainability Action Programme 2010 - 2015 have already taken place. 37 measurable goals have been listed, e.g. 50% of UBC cities use strategic sustainability city leadership and sustainability management systems by 2015; UBC is actively involved in mainstreaming a set of common sustainability indicators including local, national and EU level; all UBC cities prepare local sustainability programmes and action plans; all UBC cities should by 2015 have integrated risk management plans.
Mr Grönholm informed the Sustainability Action Programme refers to the EU Strategy for the BSR which was a new phase in the development and integration of the Baltic Sea Region. The Commission on Environment evaluated the EU BSR Strategy Flagships and is now involved in the following flagships: "Reduce nutrient inputs to the sea to acceptable levels", 4. "To become a model region for clean shipping", 5. "To mitigate & adapt to climate change", 5.3 "Create a network of sustainable cities and villages", 8.4 "Make the Baltic Sea an Eco-efficient region".
Mr Grönholm informed the Commission ran 11 projects with the budget appr. 9,9 m €. It is also involved in the preparation of a Sustainability Conference in 2011. Moreover, the applications are submitted in the field of climate change, sustainable maritime policy, ships and ports, sustainable transport and traffic, reduction of nutrients from rivers, etc.
During the reporting period a joint UBC Commission on Energy, Environment and Transport meeting took place in March 2010 in Gdynia with approximately 60 participants.
Mr Grönholm informed about the UBC Good Practice Database working to better serve and collect information, data, good practices, etc. from projects, meetings and UBC member cities. Over 430 good practice cases are listed in the database (www.ubcwheel.eu).
Baltic Cities Environmental Bulletin "Sustainable Solutions for cities" 1/2010 has been published with the editorial written by the Danish Minister of Environment Mrs Karen Ellen Ellemann. The Bulletin is made together with UBC Commission on Energy. Mr Grönholm informed the discussions have been held with the Commission on Transportation on its contribution to the Bulletin.
Mr Andersen mentioned about the 6th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns, in Dunkerque, on 19-21 May 2010. People were interested in the UBC stand asking questions on the UBC organization and activities. Mr Grönholm added that they were responsible for four sessions at this conference and received the positive feedback from participants.
Ms Charlotta Svanberg, Deputy Mayor of Växjö, asked if the merger of the Commission on Energy and Environment could be possible in the future as the problems they had been dealing with were just two sides of the same coin.
President Andersen suggested asking both Commissions to discuss the opportunities for the merger, what the advantages and disadvantages would be.
5. Proposal from Elbląg to take the lead in the Commission on Health & Social Affairs.
Mr Per Bødker Andersen informed the Board members that the city of Elbląg applied to take a lead in the UBC Commission on Health and Social Affairs that had been run by Kristiansand until the X UBC General Conference.
Mr Krzysztof Sulkowski, representing Elbląg, confirmed that the city was interested in reactivation of the Commission. He ensured the city would prepare the action plan and the budget soon.
Mr Andersen asked the Secretary General to stay in contact with Elbląg.
Mr Jørgen Kristiansen, city of Kristiansand, informed that Ms Hilde Engenes who was in charge of the Commission, was supposed to be at the Board meeting in Trelleborg but due to the strike she was not able to arrive. He declared the readiness to share with Kristiansand's experience and advices.
The Board asked the City of Elbląg to prepare an action plan of the commission.
6. Proposal to establish the UBC Task Force on local safety & public order. (Gdańsk)
Mr Leszek Walczak, Chief of the Gdańsk Municipal Guard, presented the proposal to establish the UBC Task Force on local safety & public order.
He introduced briefly the main tasks and priorities of the municipal guard in Gdańsk, namely: maintaining safety and order in the city, enforcing traffic law in restricted areas, protecting citizens and visitors life, securing place of crime or accident, preserve outdoor events, escorting intoxicated people, etc.
Mr Walczak reminded about the survey made in November 2009. 34 cities from the Baltic Sea Region responded. The questionnaire confirmed that public order and safety were main priorities for examined cities. Additionally, analysis of findings showed that safety problems were common and affected all inhabitants of BSR.
On 25-27 March 2010 the first meeting of the working group took place in Gdańsk. The meeting was attended by representatives from nine cities: Botkyrka, Elbląg, Gdańsk, Nacka, Riga, Sopot, Tukums, Tallinn and Vilnius.
The participants agreed that an organizational framework was necessary. Therefore, the city representatives signed the Letter of Intent (attached) to create the Task Force on local safety & public order.
Mr Walczak informed about the main areas of interest: cooperation & experience exchange in the field of local security, common conferences, joint projects to increase level of security & public order, cooperation with other local organizations (police, fire brigade, emergency, crises management departments, social welfare centres, etc).
He presented the framework of the action plan for 2010-2011 and the budget for second half of 2010. The second meeting, devoted to the approval of the detailed action plan, election of Chairman and V-ce Chairmen, was planned to be held in Riga, in October 2010. Two more meetings were planned for 2011 as well as the work on projects concerning the local safety.
Mr Andersen thanked for the initiative, however he was wondering if the cities had a legitimacy for dealing with the safety and security problems. He said that in Denmark this was a competence of the police and the national level.
He suggested carrying on the work of the group without establishing a formal UBC structure. The results could be presented in Liepāja during the next UBC General Conference and then the decision could be taken.
Mr Maciej Lisicki, Deputy Mayor of Gdańsk, pointed out that there were various forms of safety structures in different cities. He emphasized that the answers received from the cities showed the great interest in the safety and security matters. Mr Lisicki noticed that this area had not been touched on by UBC so far.
Mr Ansins supported the idea of the task force. He emphasized that the discussion concerned the safety as a common problem of the cities, not the structures. Safety is an important issue in all cities no matter whether they have the city guard or not.
The Board approved the budget of the working group and authorized the group to continue its work.
7. EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
7.1 Information on latest developments
Ms Catharina Sørensen representing the DG Regio, European Commission, made a presentation on the EU Strategy for the BSR and its latest developments.
Recalling the background of the Strategy, Ms Sørensen emphasized that this had been a first ever European macro regional strategy. All 27 EU members decided to focus on the cooperation within a one region. It was no coincidence that it was the Baltic Sea Region chosen as a first forum for such strategy. There are well-organized networks and structures which make the necessary basis for the implementation of the Strategy.
The European Council endorsed the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in October 2009 under the Swedish EU Presidency. The Strategy provides an integrated approach uniting all concerns of the BSR into the Strategy. It has four pillars: Environment, Economy, Accessibility and Safety. The Action Plan specifies 15 Priority Areas and 90 Flagship Projects. The implementation system seems to be simple and it assumes better use of existing institutions, funding and legislation.
Ms Sørensen focused on the added value of the EU Strategy. It can mobilise projects across borders and sectors, serve as a catalyst for strengthening cooperation mechanisms within Member States and among countries in a Region. Moreover, by involving all relevant policy areas and countries, it can promote balanced regional development and contribute to channel existing funding instruments so their potential can be fully utilised. The flagships listed in the Action Plan show the diversity and the large scale of the Strategy.
Ms Sørensen presented also the current status and a road ahead of the Strategy implementation. Most kick-off meetings have already been held. The coordinators of the priority areas are taking an increasing ownership and they are looking for new perspectives and integrating more partners. Some results could be already seen e.g. in transportation, universities cooperation, wastewater management.
Ms Sørensen informed about the High Level Group first meeting devoted to the Action Plan. Since June 2009, there have been a lot of suggestions on the AP and implementation of the Strategy. This resulted in the revision of the AP during the HLG meeting on 12 April 2010. The annual updates of the AP are expected to enable broad participation of various actors in the implementation process. The progress check will take place at the Annual Forum in Tallinn on 14-15 October 2010. The stakeholders will have an opportunity to comment on the annual report from the implementation of the Strategy.
The Board members were also informed about the Seminar co-organised by the Nordic Council of Ministers, informal Baltic Sea Group, European Commission entitled "Realising the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region through Nordic-European synergies in co-operation". It will be held in Brussels, on 29 June 2010. The seminar will discuss opportunities for generating synergies between regional, Nordic and European collaboration on working towards realising the objectives of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy and Action Plan.
Also, Ms Sørensen focused on the lessons learnt so far from the work on the Strategy. She reminded that the Strategy did not provided any new funds, but aimed at better use of the existing ones. However, there are difficulties with limited meeting costs, for instance. Ms Sørensen ensured that the Commission would be working on that. Also, the creation of the "trust fund" to support the Strategy is being discussed.
Ms Sørensen informed that the EC had been working on the Strategy for the Danube Region. Also, the Mediterranean, Adriatic, North Sea, Alpine Regions are interested in such macro-regional strategy.
Finally, Ms Sørensen encouraged to visit the website dedicated to the EU Strategy for the BSR: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/cooperation/baltic/index_en.htm
President Andersen suggested that the UBC website should be linked with the EUSBSR website.
He asked what was the importance of the flagship projects.
Ms Sørensen responded that the flagship projects were an absolute core of the Strategy. By giving the political attention of the highest level, the DG Regio hopes that the flagships would get the conditions for their work. Getting the maximum support for these projects is essential.
The Baltic Sea Strategy would serve as an example for the other macro-regional strategies.
The results of the flagships will be noted in different time perspectives. Ms Sørensen mentioned that there are 3 types of projects with 3 different time perspectives, namely fast track projects, lasting 1-3 years, projects with 5 year duration and long term projects, lasting 10 years and longer.
Mr Andersen, recalling that the UBC had a great experience in cooperation with the Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Cities, Arco Latino or the International Black Sea Club, offered to serve as a source of contacts with those organisations when the EU would be working on the next macro-regional strategies.
Ms Sørensen admitted that it would be helpful when the time comes. She emphasized that the Baltic Sea Region was chosen to have a macro-regional strategy as it was remarkable how the region developed in a short time.
Mikko Lohikoski said that the great input from the region during the creation process of the Strategy showed the potential of the BSR. In his opinion, one of the weakest points of the Strategy was a governance which in fact was not clearly defined. As a result, the role of such organisations as UBC might be confusing. He asked where the place would be for UBC in the implementation process. He pointed out that the success of the Strategy would not lie in Brussels but in the region. Therefore, the role of the cities and regions should be clarified, as expressing the interest and contacting the priority coordinators would not be enough.
Ms Sørensen agreed it was a challenge. European Commission hoped that all interested stakeholders at any level would be contacting some relevant leaders. However, EC realised that this was not the way how it should work. This question will be addressed at the meetings in June and October.
She noticed that the EC created the best possible conditions for the projects. If there are any difficulties in contacting the leads, they should be forwarded to the Commission or national contact points.
President Andersen asked what should be done to avoid confusing the interests of different levels and to ensure they all would be responded. All structures representing different levels should respect each other, not to interfere.
Ms Sørensen said that there were different actors in different priority areas and the one who would be appropriate in one area, might not be relevant in another. She stressed that the Strategy is open for various stakeholders and if this approach would not work efficiently, it would be revised.
Ms Marie-Louise Rönnmark asked how long the Strategy is open so the new contributions and ideas could be brought in. Ms Rönnmark also was wondering if the EC took into consideration the cold climate when coordinating the Strategy.
Ms Sørensen referred to the time schedule stressing that there was no expiry date. The Strategy is ongoing, although relevance of priority areas is different and the decision on it lies in the region. The biannual update of the Action Plan is expected to discuss the ideas, comments and suggestions of the stakeholders.
Ms Sørensen said that the climate issue was reflected in the Strategy upon the suggestions of the stakeholders. She advised that if UBC found something missing in the Strategy, it should express it. However, she was of the opinion that all specific features of the Baltic Sea Region also concerning the climate were covered.
President Andersen noticed that the Action Plan had just been revised.
Ms Sørensen said that there were no major changes. The remaining gaps were filled. The important development was to include LNG shipping possibilities as a flagship.
Mr Björn Grönholm commented on the flagship projects concept which could be misleading. There is a list of flagship projects different in scope and there are also concrete projects. He suggested that the flagship projects could be replaced with the flagship actions. In his opinion it would clarify the situation when the action proposal is confused with the project. He asked if the goals were formulated for each flagship.
Ms Sørensen said that the Action Plan contained actions, projects and ideas. The flagships are based on the suggested projects to the Strategy.
Mr Grönholm expressed also the opinion that the funding instruments should be correlated with the Strategy.
Ms Sørensen explained that the Strategy was endorsed in the middle of the financing period. The funding process is decentralized and the EC could only encourage the managing authorities to change the selection procedures in the funding programmes.
Mr Lohikoski positively referred to the wide range of activities and projects listed in the Action Plan. However, he noted that the UBC's problem was to choose the ones where it could make the best possible contribution either through the UBC Commissions or through the joint efforts and own resources. He suggested that the EC should keep the governance in mind planning the actions to get not only the state level, but also other levels involved. He emphasized that it was important that the local and regional authorities were a part of the implementation process.
The EU Strategy for the BSR is a central point of the new UBC Strategy and UBC should know how to contribute in the best possible way. Mr Lohikoski recommended to the Board to get acquainted with the newest BDF State of the Region report as a background for the EU Strategy.
Ms Sørensen stressed that the UBC was a very important forum for the EC. She ensured that the dialog with the UBC would be continued. The down-up consultation process is ongoing.
President Andersen concluded that being active meant getting the ownership. No one is granted with the ownership but everyone has to work to get it. He informed about the flagships selected by UBC: 5.1 "Anticipate regional and local impacts of climate change through research", 8.1 "Promote young entrepreneurs", 8.4 "Make the Baltic Sea an Eco-efficient region", 11.1 "Complete the agreed priority transport infrastructures".
Secretary General Paweł Żaboklicki informed that the UBC Board was considering to have its next meeting in Tallinn in connection with the EU Strategy for BSR Annual Forum in the middle of October. He asked if it would be possible for the Board members and also for several mayors to participate in the whole conference.
Ms Sørensen informed the EC aimed at broad participation of BSR stakeholders in the conference. She suggested writing an e-mail to DG Regio with information how many UBC cities would be interested to attend the event.
7.2 Actual information on 4 flagship projects selected by UBC
Secretary General Paweł Żaboklicki reminded that at the meeting in Naestved, on 17 February 2010, the Executive Board went through the flagship proposals sent in by the member cities and commissions. The Board decided to select four flagship projects and partners representing UBC.
Mr Żaboklicki presented the list of selected flagships and information on latest developments.
Flagship 5.1 "Anticipate regional and local impacts of climate change through research", coordinated by the Danish Energy Agency. Umeå was appointed to represent UBC in the project.
Mr Żaboklicki informed that project Baltic Sea Region Climate Change Adaptation Strategy BALTADAPT is being prepared within flagship 5.1. The project is coordinated by s.Pro sustainable-projects GmbH, Berlin.
Mr Żaboklicki informed that BALTADAPT project application was submitted under the 3rd call of the Baltic Sea Region Programme, third priority: „Management of the Baltic Sea as a common resource". Decision was expected on 9-10 June 2010 during the Monitoring Committee meeting in Helsinki. (the decision was positive, project will get funding).
Flagship 8.1 "Promote young entrepreneurs", coordinated by the Danish Ministry of Education. Commission on Education was appointed to represent UBC in the project. Also Commission on Business Cooperation expressed an interest to participate in the project.
Mr Żaboklicki informed that the Kick-off meeting was held on 20 May 2010 in Copenhagen. UBC member cities were invited. Ms Annely Veevo, Head of the Secretariat of the Commission on Education and Mr Wolfgang Schmidt, Chairman of the Commission on Business Cooperation participated in this meeting.
Ms Veevo said it was an interesting meeting. There were four workshops devoted to entrepreneurship education and culture, trade and investment promotion, entrepreneurship in green businesses and labour mobility.
Flagship 8.4 "Make the Baltic Sea an Eco-efficient region", EcoRegion Baltic Sea Programme Project, coordinated by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature, Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Commission on Environment was appointed to represent UBC in the project
Mr Żaboklicki informed the Eco-Region conference had just been held on 1-3 June 2010, in Næstved. The UBC cities were invited. Mr Søren Revsbæk, Councillor, city of Næstved, attended the conference.
The purpose of EcoRegion project was to strengthen relations between stakeholders and contribute to the implementation of good practices. Mr Revsbæk informed that the focus was on how to coordinate the political and administrative process of the project implementation.
Mr Grönholm added that the Commission on Environment had been involved in the EcoRegion project and would participate in the next project conference.
Flagship 11.1 "Complete the agreed priority transport infrastructures", coordinated by the Lithuanian Ministry for Transport and Communications, Transport Policy Department. Liepāja was appointed to represent UBC in the project.
Mr Żaboklicki informed that the Transport Annual Progress Conference would be held in the second half of 2010 in Lithuania. Lithuanian Ministry for Transport informed the secretariat that the UBC member cities will be invited.
Mr Grönholm informed that the Commission on Environment was involved in some other flagship projects and asked what would be the procedure for UBC to work within mentioned flagships.
President Andersen said it was very good for UBC to be involved in the flagship projects also those which were not selected by the Board.
Mr Grönholm informed that the Swedish Ministry for Environment asked UBC for assistance in the flagship project 5.3 ‘Create a network of sustainable cities and villages' as UBC was regarded as an appropriate experienced organisation. Mr Grönholm suggested that this flagship could also be selected as an official one that UBC joined. UBC Commission on Environment is a lead partner in the Baltic Sea Programme project New Bridges. The project aims to improve the management of the urban-rural interactions and to strengthen the quality of life within these interactions (www.urbanrural.net). Mr Grönholm said the representative of Swedish Ministry for Environment would visit EnvCom secretariat in Turku next week.
Mr Lohikoski said this flagship was actually the only one where the UBC could be a lead partner.
President Andersen suggested the Board decision would depend on the outcome of next week meeting in Turku.
8. UBC Strategy 2010-15 - proposals on implementation.
Appointment of Strategy Co-ordinator.
The UBC Strategy 2010-2015 was adopted at X UBC General Conference in Kristiansand, on 25 September 2009.
Mr Mikko Lohikoski presented the proposals on implementation of the Strategy.
Mr Lohikoski said the key task of the UBC Executive Board was to fully engage itself in the new, emerging cooperation structure in the Baltic Sea Region and to find a central place for local authorities in the implementation of the EU Strategy for Baltic Sea Region.
Concerning energizing and streamlining the work of the UBC Commissions Mr Lohikoski said the Executive Board should start preparing this issue for its next meeting by inviting Commissions to submit proposals concerning implementation of this task. This should be linked to a request to send their 2011 plans for action to the Executive Board for appraisal. UBC funding should be based on that evaluation, according to Strategy. He remarked that the Commissions went in a good direction cooperating more intensively with each other which should be appreciated.
Another important question raised by Mr Lohikoski was strengthening the member city participation. The Baltic Sea urban forum could help to engage the politicians from the UBC member cities. The mayors and city politicians should be mobilized also in connection with other events. Mr Lohikoski suggested starting the preparation to the next UBC General Conference that would be held in Liepāja in 2011.
Also, Mr Lohikoski mentioned about the reactivation of the UBC business partnership policy. UBC should be active in searching of the business partners.
Additionally, the communication and marketing strategy for UBC should be prepared. It is needed e.g. to identify the arguments for the members and potential members why they should be in UBC. Mr Lohikoski suggested forming a task force to work on this strategy.
The idea of promoting exchanges between member cities was also presented. The goal is a more systematic exchange programme between experts and various services. A task force/working group to work on this issue should be established to collect experiences, identify external funding mechanisms and also internal funding - cities could reserve a small fund for these activities in 2011 budget. Mr Lohikoski proposed the Mayor of Jyväskylä, Mr Markku Andersson, to coordinate the work of the group.
Mr Lohikoski focused, moreover, on the UBC's presence in Brussels. He advised to convene a meeting of UBC members' representations in Brussels to discuss how to jointly promote the UBC interests in Brussels. A Brussels-based steering group with a convenor who could attend Executive Board meetings could be established.
Last but not least, the cooperation with other organizations in BSR and in Europe was taken up. Mr Lohikoski suggested mapping the organizations, evaluating the cooperation and defining the key partners. UBC should have separate working meetings with each one of them about practical cooperation and possible agreements. He proposed to start with the Baltmet proposal of cooperation.
To ensure the UBC Strategy is implemented properly, the responsibility for the key tasks should be allocated among the Board members. Mr Lohikoski emphasized that the real test of the strategy lied in its implementation.
President Andersen suggested having a time for consideration of the proposals. Possible mergers of the Commissions, evaluation of their work and allocation of money should be discussed at the next Board meeting.
The Board appointed Mr Mikko Lohikoski as a UBC strategy coordinator and Mr Markku Andersson as a coordinator of exchange programme working group.
9. Proposal from four commissions on video- conferences.
Mr Stefan Windh, Co-chair of the Commission on Energy, presented proposal (attached) of four UBC Commissions on Culture, Energy, Environment, Information Society that UBC as a network could start to use technologies which allow participation via internet to different meetings and seminars.
Mentioned commissions are ready to prepare a detailed terms of reference and plan for UBC how this initiative could be started from the beginning of 2011.
Mr Windh explained and demonstrated how the system would work. It would allow to meet online in small groups (like boards) or with hundreds of participants. The conference systems are interactive and different kind of information can be transferred visually to both directions (documents, presentations, video clips etc), even hands can be raised (electronically), questions can be asked and voting can take place.
Taking in use and promoting net meeting technologies in UBC activities would be an important step from the sustainability point of view. It would save not only time and money, but also decrease ecological footprint without compromising peoples possibilities for effective communication. The common UBC conference system could be branded and configured with the UBC logo and layout.
The Board approved the proposal and asked the Commissions to work on this project so that it would be ready by the next UBC General Conference in 2011.
10. Latest conferences attended by UBC representatives.
President Andersen informed that below UBC representatives represented UBC at the following international conferences:
• The European Summit of Local Governments, Barcelona, 22-24 February 2010 (Maciej Lisicki, Deputy Mayor of Gdańsk)
• 84th Plenary Session of the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, 14-15 April 2010 (Per Bødker Andersen, UBC President)
• Conference of European Cross-border and Interregional Cities Network, Constitution Act, Santiago de Compostela, 23 April 2010 (Ingrid Tilts, Kuressaare)
• HELCOM Baltic Cities Summit, Moscow, 18 May 2010 (Maciej Lisicki, Deputy Mayor of Gdańsk)
• "Promote young entrepreneurs", kick-off meeting, Copenhagen, 20 May 2010 (Annely Veevo, Kärdla, Wolfgang Schmidt, Kiel)
• 6th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns, Dunkerque, 19-21 May 2010 (Per Bødker Andersen, UBC President)
• EcoRegion Conference, Region Zealand, Naestved, 1-3 June 2010 (Soeren Revsbaek, Councillor, Naestved)
The Board took note of the information. Reports from the conferences are attached to the minutes.
11. Latest meetings of the UBC commissions.
President Andersen informed about the latest meetings of the UBC Commissions:
• Meeting of the UBC Commission on Business Cooperation, 23 February, Kolding
• Joint meeting with UBC commissions on Energy, Environment and Transportation, 17-19 March 2010, Gdynia
• Meeting of the UBC Commission on Urban Planning, 14-17 April, Tampere
• Meeting of the UBC Commission on Sport, 22-24 April, Tallinn
• Roundtable "Subsidised jobs in Europe - ideology, legislation and practice", 29 April, Tallinn
• Meeting of the UBC Commission on Tourism, 20-23 May, Rakvere
The Board took note of the information. Reports from the meetings are attached to the minutes.
12. Baltic Cities Bulletin ‘Baltic Sea region as a tourist destination area'.
Secretary General Paweł Żaboklicki informed about the latest issue of the Baltic Cities Bulletin entitled "Baltic Sea region as a tourist destination area ". The Bulletin contains the articles on 44 UBC cities' tourism policies, projects and initiatives undertaken to attract more visitors.
In the Bulletin there is also information about the latest UBC activities, meetings and events, as well as the news from member cities. The Bulletin was published in 5.600 copies. Its cost was about 2.180 EUR. The Bulletin was sent out to 270 Baltic cities and to ca. 900 Baltic and European institutions.
13. Any other business.
13.1 Information about Turku 2011 Cultural Capital.
Information about Turku 2011 Cultural Capital was postponed to the next UBC Board meeting.
13.2 International Folklore Festival "Days of Kashubian Culture".
Director of the International Folklore Festival "Days of Kashubian Culture", Mr Władysław Czarnowski, requested the UBC to take the honorary patronage over the Festival.
This festival promotes the Kashubian culture in Poland and abroad, the tourist attractions in Kashubia and the Pomeranian Region. Also, the international cooperation, artistic education of the young generation, preservation of the cultural heritage, enriching the cultural offer, and cultural exchange are the main goals of the festival. The Baltic edition of the festival is planned in the forthcoming years. XVI International Folklore Festival will be held on 27.07-01.08.2010.
The Board decided to give the UBC honorary patronage to the festival.
13.3 UBC and Covenant of Mayors initiative.
The European Commission launched in 2008 the Covenant of Mayors, open to cities and municipalities of all sizes in Europe, with the aim of involving local authorities and citizens in the development and implementation of the European Union energy policy. The Covenant consists of the commitment of the signatory cities to go beyond the EU objectives for reducing CO2 emissions through energy efficiency measures, actions related to renewable energy sources and clean transport.
The European Commission recognizes the entities acting as 'Supporting Structures' as its main allies in conveying the message and increasing the impact of the Covenant. These structures are defined as those networks of local authorities that are in a position to provide strategic guidance and technical support to municipalities with the political will to sign up to the Covenant of Mayors, but lacking the skills and/or resources to meet its requirements, namely the preparation, adoption and implementation of the Sustainable Energy Action Plans.
The Commission on Environment proposed to sign an agreement between the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission and the UBC. The UBC would become a supporting structure committed to promotional activities.
The Board decided the UBC should sign the agreement. The agreement will be signed by the Deputy General Director of DG Energy and the UBC President.
13.4 Presentation of the WAB-project (Wetland, Algae, Biogas) - an eutrophication counteract project.
Ms Matilda Gradin and Ms Linda Wolski, Department of Environment, Trelleborg Municipality, presented the WAB-project .
WAB is a project of the South Baltic Programme with 11 cooperating partners in Sweden and Poland. The core areas for testing and implementation are Trelleborg (Sweden) and Sopot (Poland).
The project deals with the complex of interrelated problems, namely: eutrophication, climate change, species loss and air emissions. Eutrophication and algal blooms have a negative impact on tourism and quality of life in the Baltic Sea area.
The WAB project shows how to turn the problems into resources. It will allow to collect alga from coast and wetlands, and use it for biogas production. The biogas would reduce the dependency of other energy sources.
The biogas generated from algae can reduce the GHG emissions, decrease the use of fossil fuels, remove cadmium. Reconstructing wetlands will decrease nutrient leakage and stimulate the biodiversity. Harvesting algae is a method with several advantages. It will allow to remove nutrients from the system, restore shallow bay ecosystem structure, increase chances for fish larvae to hatch and survive, reduce smell. Additionally, it will make a better recreational use of coastal areas e.g. swimming, boating, and reduce climate impact (greenhouse gas emissions).
The principles of WAB project can be transferred to other locations around the Baltic Sea contributing to the more sustainable region's development.
13.5 Presentation of the Port of Trelleborg.
Mr Tommy Halén, Managing Director, presented the Port of Trelleborg, its vision and investments.
The Port of Trelleborg is one of the largest ports in Scandinavia. It handles approximately 20% of the Swedish foreign trade in terms of value.
The Port combines road-, rail-, intermodal and ferry transports. The geographic location of Trelleborg as Sweden's most southern port, creates good condition for timetables with high frequencies.
Today six ferry lines connect Trelleborg with Germany and Poland, one to Świnoujście, one to Sassnitz, two to Rostock and two to Travemünde. There are 38 ferry connections daily. In total 14 so called RoPax vessels provide the services. In addition, the port handles grain, fertilizers and oil/styrene.
The future cargo flows will be concentrated rather to fewer routes and, thereby, fewer ports. The Port of Trelleborg, as a strategic one, will be a part of the future transport corridor. In March 2008 an application for the further expansion of the Port was submitted. The vision 2010/2015 contains: moving the present port facilities out of the city centre, four new RoRo berths, new intermodal terminal, new brake waters further out from the city, new check-in facilities, new access roads.
13.6 Conference of European Cross-Border and Interregional Cities Network.
President Andersen informed that new organisation - the Conference of European Cross-Border and Interregional Cities Network (CECICN) - had been established on 23 April 2010 in Santiago de Compostela.
CECICN was established by six organisations: Iberian Network of Cross-border Entities (RIET), Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Cities, MedCities, Mission Operationelle Transfrontaliere, Union of the Baltic Cities, Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities (C.A.A.C.). The main aim of the new network is to get prepared for the period 2014+ in the EU and to provide cities, border-regions and interregional territories
• with a stronger voice and higher visibility in the context of the cohesion policies at an European scale
• to stimulate cross-border and interregional cooperation
• to foster the consolidation process of the EU.
14. Next meeting of the Executive Board.
The Board decided to have its next meeting in Tallinn on 13-14 October 2010 in connection with the EU Strategy for BSR Annual Forum to be held in Tallinn on 14-15 October 2010.
Mr Per Bødker Andersen Mr Paweł Żaboklicki
Ms Charlotta Svanberg Ms Urve Tiidus