EU’s Baltic plan requires Russian help

11th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Environmental development in the Baltic Sea region is only possible if Russia cooperates, says the European Commission.

Brussels – The European Commission Wednesday launched a plan to promote environmental and economic development in the Baltic Sea region, while admitting cooperation with Russia would be vital.

Eight of the nine countries bordering the sea are EU member states, but "many of the challenges can only be met by good cooperation with Russia," the EU executive recognised in a statement outlining the scheme.

The scheme is championed by Sweden which will assume the rotating EU presidency in July.

However EU Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Huebner said the EU is "well-placed to coordinate the work that needs to be done" in the Baltic region, since the proposed projects will require communication among many European countries.

The strategy seeks to reduce the Baltic region's geographic and economic isolation from the rest of Europe and improving the water quality of the Baltic Sea.

The EU initiative identifies protection of the environment as the foremost concern.

The plan would reduce the amount of polluting nitrates and phosphates in the sea, which encourage oxygen-consuming algae at the expense of fish and other marine life.

Phosphates would be removed from detergent in all 27 EU nations to help this process.

Under the strategy, more efforts would be made to create natural reserves and encourage biodiversity.

Remoteness and accessiblity is identified as a key hurdle to economic progress and both internal and external relations. One mooted response to this problem 'Rail Baltica' to run between Warsaw and Tallinn by 2013.

The plan also aims to fund regional innovation and research, heighten oil tanker accident response, and better connect Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia to the European energy market.

Many of the 80 projects identified by the commission will be covered by the EUR 50 billion in existing EU funding for the region planned for 2007-2013.

The commission hopes that by the end of the year the European Parliament and member states will approve the Baltic Sea plan, which is a priority for the Swedish EU presidency.

The nine countries bordering the Baltic Sea are EU members Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden plus Russia.

AFP / Expatica

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