The Anniversary 10th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region this year took place in sunny Polish city of Gdansk. The main emphasis of the forum was on the topic of the circular economy opportunities and its possible effect on the environmental and demographic challenges in the region. Over 700 participants and experts gathered from around the region to discuss and improve their knowledge on the topics such as safe nutrient recycling, smart specialization, digital bio economy, blue economy investment, lifelong learning and others. HA Neighbours was present at the Annual Forum as well by co-organising seminar on sustainable working life in the Baltic Sea region, as well as holding back-to-back Coordination Group meeting on June 13th, where current activities and future plans of HA Neighbours were presented to and discussed with the HA Neighbours coordination group.

Promoting sustainable working life in the Baltic Sea Region

Population ageing has been brought up during at the Annual Forum in Gdansk as one of the major challenges affecting the regional development and prosperity in the Baltic Sea Region today. Hence CBSS, together with Centrum Balticum Foundation (HA Neighbours) and Norden Association in Sweden (PA Education) have organised a seminar on sustainable working like in the Baltic Sea Region in the framework of the Annual Forum. The seminar aimed to give a holistic overview of the current challenges on the labour market, and provided opportunity for discussion and knowledge exchange regarding effective use of resources at hand to facilitate healthy ageing and increasing the participation of older people in the labour market.

Increasing share of retired people as compared to working population prompts countries of the Baltic Sea region to seek for ways to prolong working life, as well as to equip ageing population with skills sets that correspond to the modern labour market needs. This can be facilitated, for instance, by lifelong learning.

There is huge macro-regional potential in adapting to the new working conditions, as was mentioned by the panelist Pyry Niemi from Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference. Older people are often considered a burden for the state and social security system. However, if considered as valuable resource instead, it can also change the perception of what should be done to enhance modern labour market.

Another important aspect mentioned was good and fair working conditions. Solid working environment related legislation and lifelong learning possibilities are the guarantee for people to stay longer on a labour market.

The summary report of the seminar can be accessed from the 10th Annual Forum website here.

There is huge macro-regional potential in adapting to the new working conditions

Seeking for ways to strengthen non-EU participation at HA Neighbours coordination group meeting

Besides active participation in the Annual Forum, HA Neighbours also held a back-to-back coordination group meeting, where current activities and progress of the project have been presented. The meeting was chaired by HA Neighbours coordinators Juhani Ailio from Centrum Balticum Foundation and Daria Akhutina from CBSS Secretariat.

The main points discussed at the meeting were the results of recently conducted EUSBSR stakeholder survey, as well as progress on updating the HA Neighbours Action Plan. As the mission of HA Neighbours is to increase involvement of the non-EU states around the Baltic Sea region in EUSBSR cooperation, the updated Action Plan is being designed in the way that best suits the objectives of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), as well as reflects on the current needs for cooperation in the region. Currently on the agenda – analysing the data gathered from various funding programmes on the topic of non-EU partners participation, as well as continuing with the process of the EUSBSR stakeholder study.

HA Neighbours got plenty of valuable feedback and recommendations from the coordination group during meeting. Among those, for instance, the need to increase the visibility of the EUSBSR focal points in the EUSBSR member states, as well as to speed up the full participation of partners from non-EU countries in the financial instruments where possible (e.g. participation of Russia in Interreg financial instrument). HA Neighbours will continue to work for the better and more inclusive cooperation in the Baltic Sea region bringing together both EU and non-EU partners of the region.

Read more information about the 10th Annual Forum from EUSBSR website.