The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) is one of four macro-regional strategies implemented within the EU. EUSBSR was approved by the European Council in 2009 following a communication from the European Commission. It covers eight EU countries bordering the Baltic Sea (i.e., Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland) and four neighboring countries (i.e., Belarus, Iceland, Norway, and Russia).

EUSBSR is based on three main thematic pillars: protecting the sea, connecting the region, and increasing prosperity. The objectives of the EUSBSR from the perspective of the first pillar are as follows: save the sea, clear water in the sea, rich and healthy wildlife, clean and safe shipping, and better cooperation. Taking the second pillar into consideration, namely connecting the region, the following objectives were adopted: good transport conditions, reliable energy markets, connecting people in the region, and better cooperation in fighting cross-border crime. The third thematic pillar entitled increasing prosperity relates to the following objectives: improved global competitiveness of BSR, climate change adaptation, risk prevention, and management. EUSBSR is achieving leadership in deepening and completing the single market, contributing to the EU 2020 strategy.

Within each pillar and on a horizontal basis, 13 so-called thematic areas have been identified. (1) bioeconomy—agriculture, forestry, and fisheries; (2) culture—culture and creative industries; (3) education—education, research, and employability; (4) energy—Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (i.e., BEMIP Action Plan) for competitive, secure, and sustainable energy; (5) hazards—to reduce the use and impact of hazardous substances; (6) health—to improve and promote human health including social aspects of health social aspects of this issue; (7) innovation—to realize the full potential of research, innovation, and SMEs using the digital single market as a source of attraction for talent and investment; (8) biogens—to reduce marine discharges of nutrients to acceptable levels acceptable levels; (9) safety—to put the region at the forefront of maritime safety and maritime security; (10) security—to protect against emergencies and accidents on land and cross-border crime; (11) shipping—to create exemplary conditions for environmentally sound shipping in the region; (12) tourism—to strengthen the cohesion of the macro-region through tourism; and (13) transport—to improve internal and external transport links.

The aforementioned 13 thematic areas include four horizontal actions, which are as follows:

  1. Spatial planning: to encourage maritime and land spatial planning in all Member States in the Baltic Sea and terrestrial spatial planning in all Member States in the Baltic Sea area and develop a common approach to cross-border cooperation;
  2. Neighbors: to create added value to the Baltic Sea cooperation through the collaboration of regions and neighboring countries;
  3. Capacity: to build capacity and commitment; and
  4. Climate.

The four horizontal actions are focused on capacity building, climate change, cooperation with neighboring non-EU countries, and spatial planning.

Each thematic area and horizontal action (i.e., 17 in total) has its own coordinator (Policy Area Coordinator/PAC, Horizontal Action Coordinator/HAC). Poland acts as a coordinator for three EUSBSR thematic areas:

  1. Thematic Area Nutrition “Reduction of nutrient discharges to the sea to an acceptable level”—National Water Management Authority;
  2. Thematic Area Innovation “Exploiting the full potential of the region in the field of research, innovation and SMEs”—Ministry of Science and Higher Education; and
  3. Thematic Area Culture “Culture and creative industries”—Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

According to the three main thematic pillars mentioned, namely the objective entitled protecting the sea, the European Commission has designated the sub-goal: ecological and safe sea transport. The importance of this issue is caused by the fact that the maritime transport in the Baltic Sea is growing steadily, ecological, and safe transport is becoming increasingly important for the whole area—both sea and land.

In terms of the second pillar, connecting the region, the sub-goal good transport conditions have been appointed by the Commission. In the European Commission document on the EUSBSR it was highlighted that transport plays a particularly important role due to very long distances (within the region, in relation to the rest of Europe and to the rest of the world) and very difficult transport conditions (i.e., forests, lakes, snow and ice in winter, etc.) in the BSR. The BSR area is located on the periphery of the economic center of Europe. It is largely dependent on foreign trade in goods, which makes a well-functioning transport infrastructure essential for the economic growth.

In the context of possible input of CT into the strategy implementation it is worth to take a look at the four important challenges of the EUSBSR.

Of the many challenges requiring an agreed action across the BSR, the four most important challenges are:

  1. To create conditions for a sustainable environment;
  2. To develop prosperity in the region;
  3. To increase the accessibility and attractiveness of the region; and
  4. To ensure safety and security in the region.

According to the European Commission, accessibility is still low in many areas of the region: northern Finland, Sweden, and the Baltic States have the lowest accessibility rates in the whole Europe, both in terms of internal and external connections. This is due to the size of the region and the associated long distances and travel times, as well as geographical and climatic conditions. The low density of infrastructure and services is associated with high prices. Improvements in this area should be made in the form of sustainable modes of transport.