Intervention by Mr Tauno Pesola, Chairman of the Committee of Senior Officials of the CBSS, at the seminar on the Northern Dimension, Lillehammer, 24 October 2002
Venue: The seminar on the Northern Dimension in the framework of Baltic Sea States Sub-regional Co-operation, Lillehammer, 24 October 2002
Mr Tauno Pesola,
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland,
Chairman of the CBSS (Committee of Senior Officials of the Council of the Baltic Sea States)
The Finnish Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the Northern Dimension (ND)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to address this meeting on the Northern Dimension which has been organized by our sub-regional partners.
As has already been stated here, we are looking forward to the preparation of the new Action Plan for the Northern Dimension. This will succeed the first one, which expires at the end of next year.
The Danish Presidency of the European Union has made a significant contribution to the work of the Northern Dimension. We have seen the successful conference on the Northern Dimension and the Arctic Window that took place in August this year. And at the beginning of this week, there was a meeting in Luxembourg to approve the guidelines for the next Action Plan.
I would like to present some short remarks on the scope of the Northern Dimension Action Plan, on the players involved and on monitoring of the work done in the framework of the Action Plan.
As a platform for the work, we have had the conclusions of the Feira European Council.
The text approved was, quote:
"The European Council endorsed the Action Plan for the Northern Dimension with external and cross-border policies of the European Union 2000-2003 as an important step towards implementing the Guidelines adopted in Cologne. It invited the Commission to take a leading role in implementing the Action Plan and to present appropriate follow-up proposals, including on the environment and nuclear safety, the fight against international crime and Kaliningrad.
It welcomed the intention of the future Swedish Presidency to prepare, together with the Commission, a full report to the Council on Northern Dimension policies in preparation for the Göteborg European Council in June 2001." Unquote.
We can see that the southern Member States of the EU have also done valuable work in this area, as it was the Portuguese Presidency which was behind the Feira conclusions.
We have had a lot discussion on how these conclusions should be interpreted. Are they to be taken as a conclusive arrangement, so to speak, or is there space for new ideas? From our point of view there has seemed to be a bit of both. We have seen the conclusions as guidance for the work that has to be done. But at the same time we have taken it for granted that those willing to take action in fields not mentioned in the conclusions will certainly be allowed to do so. This has been the case with the Northern eDimension Action Plan. Moreover, the work on the control of communicable diseases can be seen as such an endeavour. And, the full report prepared under the Swedish Presidency could be also seen as supporting this kind of thinking.
We naturally welcome the comprehensive approach of the Danish Presidency, which we can see in the guidelines prepared for the European Council for endorsement in Copenhagen in December.
At the very beginning of the work with the EU’s Northern Dimension we had some discussion on the role that regional structures could and should play in the whole process, that is in identifying the priorities, in implementation and in monitoring of the work. In the Finnish discussion we had several paths to follow. But today I feel confident that all the players willing to contribute are welcome to do so. It is perhaps more a question about in which phase and in which sectors the various players can deliver.
We have of course our special interest in the role of the CBSS. But Finland, in common, I’m sure, with many of its neighbours, would also like to take care of the interests of other regional actors, namely the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers. Of course, the CBSS has a special role as it encompasses all the partner states in the Northern Dimension. But to fulfil the expectations on this role would require ideas and proposals from the partners. The Russian Federation and the North-Western regions of Russia in particular are in focus.
What then is a CBSS issue and what is an ND issue? I think we can leave that question to the scholars. From our point of view it is important that our opportunities and threats are placed on the agenda and that ways are found to deal with these issues. This has been the case with the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership, which has made it possible to tackle some of the greatest concerns of the CBSS (for example the treatment of St Petersburg’s waste water). So it makes no difference if the BSREC, NeDAP or the Task Force on Organised Crime are, or have been, CBSS inventions or if they should be seen as ND endeavours.
Of course, we would like to see the EU Member States outside the region being active. But having said that, I would recall that the CBSS has observers outside both the region and the EU. How to raise their interest is a question for the presidency in particular as, according to common understanding, it represents the CBSS.
On various occasions we have expressed our wish for a common understanding on how the Action Plan should be monitored. On this matter we now have in the guidelines the following text:
“The Conference also invited all relevant actors to take an active role in the discussions on the new Action Plan and its implementation, to be reviewed and monitored at regular intervals according to the mechanisms foreseen by the Action Plan.” Unquote.
In addition to that, in the environmental chapter of the guidelines we have a clear statement that the Action Plan should address environmental challenges on the basis of monitoring reports by the European Union, HELCOM, Baltic 21 and the Arctic Council Monitoring and Assessment Programmes (AMAP). This sounds good as we have, for example in HELCOM, expertise and tradition in environmental studies.
We feel confident that in monitoring the Action Plan the European Commission, who will have the leading role, will make full use of the capabilities in the region, including the CBSS structures, HELCOM and other regional actors such as those in the Arctic Council. This would. of course, also enable those interested regional actors to take part actively in the process. This opportunity also concerns us in the CBSS as well as our partner organisations.
Thank you for your attention.