The EESC supports the aims embodied in the BSS and approves the comprehensive consultation process that preceded its finalisation.
The Strategy, which represents a novel approach for the European Union to look at and deal with economic, social and territorial cohesion has laudable aims and objectives in tackling a set of complex structural issues in the Baltic; it nonetheless faces a number of challenges that have to be overcome for it to prove effective. These challenges relate to its value adding potential, the governance arrangements, the cohesion of the EU and the external effectiveness of the Strategy.
The governance arrangements are the subject of some critical comment. The Strategy encompasses the remit of 21 Directorates General as well as 8 Member States plus Russia. When these are combined with the 4 pillars, 15 priority actions and numerous horizontal actions, there are such complex governance structures at the work that they make the Strategy unworkable. The EESC believes that greater effort should be made to simplify the governance and administration arrangements for the Strategy.
This opinion re-iterates the proposal previously contained in REX/262 & ECO/251 to establish within the EESC an ad hoc Baltic Sea Region observatory or study group so that the entire EESC can participate effectively in the development and evolution of the Strategy.
The EESC also underlines that the Strategy is not just a single document; it is above all it is a process and work in progress that will be implemented over time and evolve as and where necessary, thus offering organised civil society the possibility to continuously influence its formulation.