Dear UBC Friends
issue of the bulletin is devoted to Culture. Even
if only a minor part of the city spending is for culture,
it is nevertheless an important and strategic issue.
Culture is important for the wellbeing of our citizens,
and for the development of the city. A city without
an attractive cultural life will not attract much
needed business or skilled work force in the new economy
– on the contrary, the city will slowly suffocate
without intellectual stimulation from culture. So
I am happy that this issue gives a rather bright picture
of the culture in the cities!
The year 2000 is soon ended. It has,
among others, been characterised by an increased recognition
of the role of local authorities in the enlargement
process in Baltic Sea Region. The voice of UBC is
heard and it also gives results.
We have for some time argued for the
need of financing of small and medium sized cooperation
projects between local and regional authorities. Three
years ago there were a lot of such programs, but there
has been very little such EU programs since then.
We have also argued for better co-operation between
Phare and other EU programs.
There has been a need for a better
adaptation of the rules for cross-border co-operation
with maritime borders. The lack of land borders in
the Baltic Sea Region has been a serious disadvantage
for our region when creating cross-border co-operation
The latest news from Brussels is that
very much of our demands have been partly met in the
coming Interreg III. There will be a facility for
small and medium sized projects for the Baltic Sea
Region within Interreg III B. This means in practice
that EU has adapted to the lack of landborders in
the Baltic Sea Region. And there are signals about
better co-ordination between Phare and cross-borders
programs of EU.
But we are not alone in the arguing.
BSSSC has experienced similar needs among the regional
authorities, and has argued in Brussels for similar
things. The matter has been brought up in many meetings
in connection with CBSS, where the EU Commission is
a member. The response from CBSS has been very positive.
This shows that co-operation and co-ordination pays.
UBC has for some years now argued for
an increased co-operation among the actors in our
region in order to get a stronger voice, especially
in the light of the enlargement process. Council of
Baltic States has emerged as kind of an umbrella organisation
for this process. It is probably needed since I have
a feeling that the EU Commission looks at our region
with wonder and perhaps a little of confusion. The
level of co-operation in our region is unique in Europe
and even in the world. I have for example met the
idea that the organisations in our region should merge
in order to decrease the number of voices from our
Of course this cannot be done. Our
organisations represent their own interest and each
of them are needed. But it is also true that some
co-ordination is needed in order to give strength
to our arguments and opinions. We have to co-operate
in order to be successful.
The Nordic Dimension will be an important
issue the next year. Today it is rather unknown and
abstract among our cities, but I believe that we will
notice it more and understand it better in the coming
The next UBC General Conference will
take place in October 2001. The city of Rostock is
already well ahead with the plans. The theme will
be "Social Justice in the new Millennium". It is very
important that we bring up the social issues on such
a high level as our General Conference. It is important,
not only for the sake of solidarity, but also for
continuing stable political and economic development
in the Baltic Sea Region.
I wish you all a very pleasant Christmas
and a fruitful New Year!
With Baltic Sea Greetings
Kalmar, December 2000