Norwegian Presidency 2021-2022

On 1 July 2021, Norway replaced Lithuania as Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The Norwegian Presidency was led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms. Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Based on the three long-term CBSS priorities, the CBSS reform process concluded in 2020 and the new Vision for the Baltic Sea Region by 2030, the Norwegian Presidency 2021-2022 focused on three overall aims. All of these were relevant in the context of climate action, post-pandemic recovery and region-wide cohesion as well.

Norway will attach importance to:

  1. Accelerating cooperation on the green transition, with an emphasis on innovation and best practice in industry, sustainable transport, clean energy and the circular economy;
  2. Fostering regional identity and cooperation, working with young people, civil society, and city and subregional authorities across the Baltic Sea Region;
  3. Supporting the current mandates on civil protection, children at risk and trafficking in human beings, with a strong focus on organised crime and cybercrime.

Norway took over the presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continued to pose a wide range of challenges to the security, resilience, and openness of our societies. But recovery was under way. The CBSS continued to adjust to new opportunities and the Norwegian Presidency raised relevant issues as necessary.

In March 2022, the CBSS celebrated its 30th anniversary. The anniversary was used to focus attention on past achievements, successful integration and cooperation since the early 1990’s, but also on present challenges and on future opportunities in a region of 11 countries, 168 million people, with an area of 3.8 million km2  (including Northwest Russia) and 9 % of global GNP.

During its presidency, Norway sought to correlate activities with other cooperation frameworks active in the Region, such as the Northern Dimension and its four partnerships, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Arctic Council. Moreower, the Presidency sought to strengthen contact with the Baltic Sea States Sub-Regional Cooperation (BSSSC), Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC), Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions – Baltic Sea Commission (CPMR-BSC), other relevant networks. Along the same lines, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) and its new action plan was of key importance in the broader regional cooperation framework.

Norway chaired the CBSS Expert Groups on Sustainable Development, on Sustainable Maritime Economy, on Children at Risk, the Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings, and the Baltic Sea Region Civil Protection Network. Independent of the CBSS, Norway also chaired the Baltic Sea Task Force on Organized Crime.

“It’s important <…> not only to talk to young people, but to let them talk to us and to engage in a real dialogue”

foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide

The Norwegian Presidency gave particular attention to the engagement and involvement of young people in Baltic Sea Region activities, and on input from civil society in the development of policy recommendations and project activities.