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UBC President's statement published at the Baltic Cities Bulletin, October 2004

Dear UBC Friends,

It has become a tradition for the Council of European Union to encourage people and organisations to undertake positive actions by promoting different ideas and values each particular year. This year the Council together with the European Parliament decided to announce the European Year of Education through Sport, whose motto is "Move your body, stretch your mind". The main objective of the Year is to sensitize European public to the importance of sport as an educational tool. This bulletin shows how many sport events promoting educational values are organised in the UBC member cities.

I'm writing these words shortly after the 41st UBC Executive Board meeting in Riga which raised a great interest among the cities - over 70 delegates from 32 member cities participated in open part of that meeting. The meeting treated several important issues. I am happy to inform you that the Union received an observer status to the Committee of the Regions which proves that Brussels recognizes the work carried out by our organisation. Through the participation in CoR Plenary Sessions UBC will have a chance to influence the work and policies of this important EU institution.

The Board in Riga decided that the theme of the VIII UBC General Conference to be held in 2005 in Turku will concern the transportation corridors in the Baltic Sea Region. UBC realises that improvement of transportation corridors is vital for further development of the whole region. UBC received the EC's consultation document on "Motorways of the Seas" concept to be financed through the revised Trans-European Network Transport Guidelines (TEN-T). UBC welcomes the Commission's implementation framework of the "Motorways of the Seas" and hopes it will contribute to the improvement of intermodal transportation system in our region. UBC Logistics Task Force invites all member cities to Brussels on 24 November to discuss how we can benefit from the EU resources allocated to this new initiative.

All member cities are also invited to the conference "Baltic Sea Region - Perspective 2010" to be held in Brussels on 23 November 2004 at the premises of the Committee of the Regions. The conference is co-organised by several Brussels offices of our member cities. The aim of this event is to promote the Baltic Sea Region amongst the Brussels policy actors - politicians, representatives of EU institutions, business community, NGOs, media. UBC will take active part in this important forum.

This summer UBC signed the cooperation agreement with our sister organisation Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities. Our cooperation with CAAC is twofold - lobbying for cities interests and joint projects between our cities. Acting together make our voice stronger in Brussels. UBC and CAAC prepared a joint comment on the EC communication "Dialogue with associations of local authorities on the formulation of EU policy". In this communication the Commission informed about launching annual hearings for associations to inform them about its annual program and major policy initiatives that have a significant local impact. In the joint statement sent to the EC President we welcomed an opportunity to meet the Commission on regular basis and at the same time we expressed our opinion that organisations should not only be informed about EU policies but also should be given an opportunity to influence these policies. Our reaction was noted in Brussels. Director General of Regional Policy replied in a letter that annual meetings "will offer the opportunity to the associations to inform the Commission about the expectations of their members concerning the development of EU policies".

The Executive Board in Riga once again raised the issue of maritime borders in the Baltic Sea Region. UBC calls the European Commission to treat the maritime borders in the BSR in similar way as the land borders. We oppose the limit of 150 km. In case of BSR such distance can not be set definitely. We expect a more flexible approach taking into account historical, social, cultural and economical factors, in order to support the cross(sea)border cooperation between the Baltic cities.

UBC cooperates closely with the Council of Baltic Sea States. At the Board meeting in Riga the chairman of CBSS Committee of Senior Officials presented the priorities of new CBSS Presidency (Poland) and informed about current CBSS initiatives. Also in Riga, the leaders of 11 UBC commissions/networks presented the annual activity reports since the General Conference in Klaipėda. For me it is very encouraging to see the vast range of projects, activities and events carried out by our commissions and networks.

Per Bødker Andersen

UBC President
Kolding, October 2004


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