Save the Baltic Sea for real!

Text: Dämien Bolinius

On the 5th of September, the Baltic Eye participated in the meeting “Save the Baltic Sea for real”, held at the European parliament in Brussel. Organized by SEARICA, the European parliament intergroup on Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas, the goal of the meeting was to present results from recent projects in the Baltic Sea and to discuss upcoming issues relevant to policy.

The research results covered topics in marine plastics as well as hazardous substances in the Baltic sea. Both are issues which are regularly covered by the Baltic Eye. All of the presentations are now available on SEARICA’s website.

On the policy side, the highlights of the meeting were the upcoming revisions of the Baltic Sea action plan (BSAP, HELCOM) and the EUSBSR action plan.

Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM’s executive secretary noted that future efforts would be focused on strengthening the implementation of the actions listed under the BSAP at national level. The revised BSAP will also take into account the potential impacts of climate change and the sustainable development goals. It was recognised that only a small fraction of all potentially hazardous chemicals in the Baltic Sea is currently included as indicator. Additional indicators will therefore need to be developed to help assess the chemical status of the Baltic Sea.

Regarding the revision of the EUSBSR, Maxi Nachtigall, priority area coordinator for EUSBSR Priority Area Hazard, noted that while the main focus for the EUSBSR will still be on pharmaceuticals, highly fluorinated chemicals are likely to be included in the future as well. She also stressed that there is still a large gap between the results from flagship projects and their impacts on policy. A priority under the revision process will therefore be to increase “cross-policy cooperation”.

The Baltic Eye, as a university-based boundary organisation, is a good example of how this cross-policy cooperation can take place. A research paper, co-authored by Marie Löf from the Baltic Eye, discussing the benefits of investing in such boundary organisations will soon be published in the journal PLoS one.

Uncertainty regarding the funding of projects related to the Baltic Sea was another topic that received a fair share of attention at the meeting. One the one hand there was uncertainty regarding Horizon Europe, the successor of horizon 2020, and how the 100 billion euros set aside for it, would be divided. On the other hand, both BONUS and INTERREG, two EU programs through which a wide range of successful projects in the Baltic Sea have been funded, are reaching the end of their term and it is not certain yet how projects after 2020 will be funded.

During the discussions, EU sanctions against Russia were also mentioned as a potential obstacle for investment banks to invest in Baltic Sea projects that involve Russia. An issue that the MEPs promised to look into.


All the presentations from the meeting are available online:

Horizon Europe: