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UBC Political Platform

The Baltic Sea Region is undergoing tremendous changes that a few years ago seemed almost unthinkable. The changes involve every governmental level in the region, from local municipalities to national governments, besides all other private or public networks, NGO's and the business community.

UBC is a well functioning and organised network of 100 member cities from 10 countries. In this capacity, UBC is an important platform to be a spokesman for the interests of the member cities level at first hand, but also for the Baltic Sea Regions as such.

UBC promotes and is a tool for city activities in a wide spectrum of spheres of interest. Political leaders meet in the board and commissions, and city experts of all kind meet in commissions and networks. UBC is a co-operation forum and a tool to express city level opinions in the BSR.

Strengthening the Baltic Sea region
The Baltic Sea Region has emerged after the fall of the Iron Curtain. It is in many ways unique in the world, considering the stable economic, political and environmental development. The cities of the region benefit from a strengthening of the region. UBC is therefore promoting closer ties with the governmental (CBSS), regional (BSSSC and CPMR/Baltic Sea Commission) and specialised sectoral organisations.

The Baltic Sea Region is also characterised by large economic differences between some of the wealthiest nations in the world and the struggling post socialist countries. Strengthening of the UBC network leads to increased cohesion and is an important contribution to continued development of the region.

Strengthening the local authority level
Most citizens in the Baltic Sea Region live in cities and have daily contact with at least some of the responsibilities of cities like schools, waste water or any other city activities. The democratic city institutions make priorities that affect many persons. Sometimes they have to make difficult choices, for example between streets or schools or other city activity. Cities often implement or are greatly affected by decisions taken at European or national government level.

UBC has several times stated the need to strengthen cities. In order to enhance democracy and efficient cities, it is necessary that the local authority level shall be powerful and have a constructive dialogue with the national and the European level where the opinions and views of cities are taken into account. Far too often cities have to implement decisions or processes in which the opinions and experience of cities have not been taken into account.

Supporting the EU Enlargement
One of the most important tasks is to prepare the city level for the EU enlargement. Almost all aspects of the wide palette of city activities will be affected, some more and other less. Some changes are general and affect all authorities and organisations in the candidate countries, while other changes have their main impact on city activities and the way they are implemented.

When the Baltic Sea Region will be an inland sea of the European Union, the strategic and geopolitical situation of cities, also in the European Union countries in the BSR, will change dramatically, especially compared with the situation before the fall of the Iron Curtain only ten years back.

It is important to include the cities in the enlargement process and not only treat cities as subjects. Until now, the processes in Europe have been carried out almost totally on the national level, or between the European Union and the national level.

Local level is far too often taken into account too late. The local level must be enhanced in the political decision making process in Europe. With an appropriate involvement, the transition will be smoother, problems will be detected earlier and the risk of decreasing popular support for the European Union is smaller.

Sustainable development
An equally important task is to promote the implementation of Local Agenda 21 locally in the Baltic Sea Region. The Baltic Sea is a very special sea with no other comparable conditions anywhere in the world. It is the world's largest brackish-water reservoir. At the same time it is shallow and has limited capacity for change of water. It is thus very vulnerable for environmental threats.

The awareness of the importance for sustainable development for our and coming generations is growing. Cities play a crucial role since Local Agenda 21 is based on activities on local level. Governments and governmental authorities can support sustainable development by legal provisions and financial aid, but the concrete work must be carried out locally, in cities and other communities. UBC is an excellent tool and platform for the cities and other governmental levels to co-ordinate implementation of Agenda 21 locally.

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