The CPMR’s Baltic Sea Commission (BSC) held a special session on the Future of Europe during its General Assembly on 12 June, which took place at the Federal Representation of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Berlin.

Discussions focused on the importance of building suitable cooperation and partnerships for a prosperous and well-functioning EU, including in the Baltic Sea Region.

The messages arising from the discussions marked the starting point in the preparation of the Baltic Sea Region’s input into the reflection process on how to shape the Future of Europe Project, feeding into the CPMR’s overall reflection on the crucially important topic.

The Baltic Sea Commission’s contribution will feed into the overall CPMR Manifesto planned for adoption in autumn 2018, which will outline a vision placing regions at the heart of EU reforms.

Lorenz Caffier, Minister of the Interior and for Europe from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, opened the session by stressing that the European Union remains the best instrument to support cooperation across Europe. Speaking about Brexit, he expressed his regret that for the first time in the EU integration process, a Member State, the UK, has expressed its wish to leave the Union.

He also emphasised that Euroscepticism, populism and nationalism trends continue to threaten Europe. He emphasised the importance of a strong future Cohesion Policy, which reflects European solidarity and unity.

He pointed out that European Territorial Cooperation programmes should be reinforced, as they help to bring people together. He also praised the CPMR’s and its Baltic Sea Commission’s active role in the Future of Europe debate, as it is key for the integration of a regional perspective in the European Commission’s reflection process.

After the introductory words of Mr Caffier, a panel discussion, moderated by Silke Hasselmann, from Deutschlandradio, discussed how could the EU can better communicate its goals to its citizens.

The panel was made up of Ms Meit Fohlin, vice-President of the Region of Gotland, Mr Jacek Bendykowski, Councillor of the Pomorski Sejmik, and Dr Mart Laanemäe, Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia in Germany.

Annika Sandström, Vice-President of the CPMR BSC and President of Stockholm County Council, concluded the session by warning about the risks involved if Europe is dismantled. She said: “It is crucial to increase cooperation and raise the visibility and awareness of the European Union”.

She stated that the challenges and opportunities in the Baltic Sea region can only be met through joint action and deepened cooperation.