What’s at stake
The eight EU member states surrounding the Baltic Sea face multiple common challenges where joint action will help yield positive results for energy and transport interconnection, environmental protection and
the broader security of the region.
Current major challenges include:
ECR Members consistently call for further coordinated efforts on the following:
We reaffirm our support for the integration projects that connect businesses, people and energy markets, protect the environment and assist the fight against cross-border crime as part of the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR).
We believe that there is an urgent need to improve the environmental sustainability of the Baltic Sea, given that its unique ecosystem is particularly vulnerable to increasing sea temperatures, certain invasive alien species and pollution. In addition to the environmental degradation and deteriorating fish stocks, there are serious concerns for the future viability of the fisheries industry, which is a crucial source of income for many communities along the Baltic coast.
We call for additional targeted support for Baltic fisheries, particularly those that are small-scale, which must include improvements to both harbour and landing infrastructure, distribution and processing. We believe support is also needed to help reduce pressure on the environment with more sustainable fishing equipment and a strategy to deal with pollution and marine litter to improve the overall ecosystem in the long term.
We are deeply concerned about the risk still posed today by the over 50,000 tonnes of munitions dumped on the Baltic seabed after World War II, containing toxic substances such as mustard gas and which continue to represent a severe hazard. Therefore, progress is needed to map the dumped munitions to either remove them or reduce the risk they pose to the marine environment, health and undersea infrastructure projects, such as gas pipelines.
We are firmly opposed to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which undermines efforts to diversify energy suppliers. Moreover, its construction is carried out with complete disregard for the concerns of the other EU Member States in the Baltic Sea area.
We share grave concerns about Russia’s strengthened military capabilities and activities in the Baltic Sea region. Our concerns include the Kaliningrad exclave, where nuclear weapons storage facilities were recently modernised, and Iskander missiles deployed, along with the continuing development of Anti-Access / Area-Denial capabilities.
We condemn Russia’s recurring pattern of violating the territorial waters of European countries and the blocking of maritime transport, as exemplified in the Vistula Lagoon. These acts are wholly unacceptable, as are attempts at GPS jamming against NATO during its recent exercises. We, therefore, continue to support NATO’s efforts to increase security in the region and their work with non-member partners. Consequently, we welcome the Readiness Action Plan (RAP) and the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and NATO’s ongoing Air Policing Mission to safeguard Baltic airspace.
We are alarmed by the threat to essential systems & data posed by cyber-attacks. Furthermore, we deplore the use by Russia of online media platforms to interfere in elections and spread covert hostile propaganda. Accordingly, cybersecurity must have the highest priority.