Carmen Gebhard, The Council of the Baltic Sea States in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 51 - 53

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

Bibliographic information
51 loose structures, voluntary membership and a flexible agenda. Anyway, just as the Baltic Forum, this version of a ‘new style’ regionalist formation never took shape. At the time it was presented to the public, in summer 1992, the CBSS had already been established as the model case of Baltic Sea regionalist cooperation. Looking at these inner-German events, two ‘German’ factors can be identified that dominated the “construction phase” of Baltic Sea Regionalism:133 – German party-politics; most importantly, disputes between social democrats and liberals; – internal struggles between the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein and the German Foreign Ministry. This study does not intend to focus on the specific role and importance of domestic discourse within the single states involved in the process of post-1989 regionalism. However, these observations help to characterise the general course of events in the BSR. This example gives important information about how Baltic Sea Regionalism evolved in its early stages, to what extent individual players shaped the development of cooperative links in the region. Interestingly, the emergence of the new inclusive ‘Baltic Sea Region’ occurred in a highly competitive political atmosphere. There is a certain degree of irony in the fact that instead of pooling the efforts in order to achieve common or at least very similar goals, some region-builders decided to mingle their regionalist ambitions with trite every day politics. However, this sort of competition between different region-building projects might have contributed to the number and variety of cooperative formations present in the region of today. While in the case of Engholm’s Baltic Forum, an innovative regionalist vision has actually been outperformed by its intergovernmental counterpart, in other cases, these dynamics might have inspired the creation of a parallel and competing region-building project. Today, the BSR allows both functional overlap and constructive competition. III. The Council of the Baltic Sea States The CBSS was founded in 1992 under the overall objective to create a regional forum for dialogue and coordination between the national governments of the Baltic Sea States. The establishment of the CBSS was based on a Danish-German initiative launched Genscher and Ellemann-Jensen, then liberal foreign ministers of Germany and Denmark.134 133 See ibd., here p. 5 and 18. 134 Catellani points out that the role of the Danish foreign minister was less proactive than it might have appeared. The fact that the CBSS was launched right after a bilateral meeting held in Copenhagen did support the impression that Denmark had been the driving force behind the initiative. “Uffe Ellemann Jensen [...] contributed substantially both to the creation of the CBSS and to the development of a more assertive stand by Denmark within the framework of the European integration process. However, the importance of his activism should not be overestimated, especially in the light of the role Germany played in connection with the launch of the initiative.” Genscher in turn was bound by the consideration that a German initiative in the BSR involving Russia as a partner would have appeared inappropriate for the geopolitical allocation of Germany in the New Europe. See CATELLANI Nicola: The EU’s Northern Dimension. Testing a New Approach to Neighbourhood Relations? Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Research Report 35, Stockholm 2003, p. 5. 52 Its very nature and structural constitution turns the CBSS into much more than ‘just another regional organisation’ as it unites the major regional actors on the governmental level, comprising all states bordering the Baltic Sea, including Russia as well as Norway, and the European Commission.135 Hence, the CBSS was the first organisation to bring the Commission, Russia, Germany, the Baltic republics and the Nordic countries together at one table. Given its direct institutional link to the European Union and the unique constellation of members, right from the beginning, the CBSS constituted a sort of umbrella organisation for all forms of cooperation in the BSR.136 In fact, the CBSS was officially intended to serve as a point of reference for all forms of Baltic regional cooperation. One of the constitutive factors of this special status of the CBSS results from its close links to the European integration process. The CBSS has considerably backed the EU enlargement process. After the accession of Sweden and Finland, the CBSS agenda has been gradually syntonised with the relevant EU policies. A similar effect could be observed following the 2004 enlargement round. Due to its close institutional ties with the European Commission, the CBSS also actively contributed to the development of the EU ND. After the launch of the policy in 1997, the CBSS was formally involved in the implementation process. The CBSS benefits from the fact that it has focussed on security issues from the beginning. It has a top-down logic much in line with that of the European Union, a central player in setting the dominant thinking of today’s security co-operation in Europe. […] The CBSS has a role to play as the catalyst of a security community much like Norden.137 Another decisive factor was the strategic potential that the formal involvement of Russia bore for the bilateral relations of the EU. Working closely together with the CBSS not least opened additional channels for communication and provided a multilateral forum for consultation and debate with this important strategic partner.138 Since 2001, the CBSS has also intensified the efforts of coordinating its activities with those of other regional organisations in the Baltic Sea area by way of annual coordination meetings. This should generally provide a more structured channel for the involvement of other stakeholders. The Council also has appointed a number of strategic partners that on these occasions get the opportunity to voice their concerns and coordinate their efforts with the CBSS and other organisations. In this regard, the CBSS has established particularly close links to the BSSSC, the UBC, VASAB 2010, and HELCOM.139 Today, the CBSS seeks to act as a hub between the European Commission and other regional organisations. In 2001, the CBSS has taken the initiative to hold annual 135 See PETERSEN Nikolaj: Denmark and the European Union 1985-96. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 2/1996, pp. 185-210, here p. 189. 136 See CATELLANI Nicola: The EU’s Northern Dimension. Testing a New Approach to Neighbourhood Relations? Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Research Report 35, Stockholm 2003, p. 4. 137 BONNÉN Preben/SØSTED Michael: The Origin, Development and Perspectives of Nordic Cooperation in a New and Enlarged European Union. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Nr. 1/2003, pp. 19-32, here p. 29. 138 See HUBEL Helmut/GÄNZLE Stefan: The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) as a Sub- Regional Organisation for ‘soft security risk management’ in the North-East of Europe. Report to the Presidency of the CBSS, 18 May 2001, p. 19. 139 Other strategic partners are the Baltic Development Forum (BDF), the Baltic Sea Chambers of Commerce Association (BCCA), the Baltic Sea Forum ‘Pro Baltica’, the Baltic Sea NGO Forum (BSNF), and the Baltic Sea Trade Union Network (BASTUN). For details see official CBSS website [26 November 2007]. 53 coordination meetings with the heads of a group of subregional organisations. Six such meetings have been held to date: 2001 in Riga/Latvia, 2002 in Lillehammer/Norway, 2003 in Klaipeda/Lithuania, 2004 and 2005 in Malmö/Sweden, and 2007 in Bornholm/Denmark. In addition to providing a more structured channel for CBSS Special Participants, these meetings were also thought to allow the partner organisations to voice their concerns and coordinate their efforts with the CBSS and other regional actors. Two specific agenda issues have dominated the meetings so far: coordination of input to the elaboration and implementation of the EU Northern Dimension Action Plan (ND AP), and improved coordination of activities and information flows among the participating organisations. The CBSS tries to fulfil the function of communicating the collected positions to the European Commission. The CBSS has also launched an internet portal for the BSR in order to provide a single entry point and information source on the wide range of Baltic Sea regional cooperation activities.140 IV. Visions and Constructed Realities – The History Tool The post Cold War discourse on the emergence of a ‘new’, ‘comprehensive’ and ‘inclusive’ BSR was dominated by visionary and elocutionary images. Generally, many of the regional and sub-regional initiatives that emerged in the BSR after the end of the Cold War were based upon rather enthusiastic ambitions, stressing the normative power of the cooperative spirit of the past. Many promoted Baltic Sea Regionalism by preaching the existence of some sort of natural habit or inclination to cohesion and togetherness present in the area, and occasionally helped themselves with the history tool: Various initiators of regional and sub-regional cooperation referred to history, presenting a carefully selected set of historical events of regional cooperation in order to support their regionalist visions. Trade relation or political domination in the pre-nation state era was employed to present region-building as a natural process. A specific version of history suggested a certain naturally founded, generic community of destiny in the BSR. Hanseatic trade or the geopolitical figure of Dominium Maris Baltici or Mare Nostrum were among the most spectacular constructs.141 In 1990, for example, a number of leading politicians, journalists, authors, academics and intellectuals met in the Finnish town of Kotka in order to discuss the perspectives of a ‘New Hansa’, and thereby created another label for the vision of a peaceful and prosperous BSR that would tie in with its historical antecedents: the “Spirit of Kotka”.142 The discursive creation of a certain cohesive spirit is an important factor in most region-building projects. Region-building begins in the field of ideas and public debates, and is supposed to convince participants of a common background by making common values come into force.143 140 See Official Website of the Baltic Sea Portal [28 December 2007]. 141 MUSIAL Kazimierz: Education, Research and the Baltic Sea Region-building. In: Id. (ed.): Approaching Knowledge Society in the Baltic Sea Region. Gda?sk/Berlin 2002, pp. 42-60, here p. 47. 142 See SUNDQVIST Ulf: The Spirit of Kotka. In: Framtider international, 1/1991, p. 4. 143 MAKARYCHEV Andrey S.: Where the North Meets the East. Europe’s ‘Dimensionalism’ and Poland’s ‘Marginality Strategy’. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 3/2004, pp. 299-315, here p. 301.

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Seit 1989 ist es im Ostseeraum zu einer explosionsartigen Entstehung einer Vielzahl von regionalen Initiativen und Zusammenschlüssen gekommen. Der Ostseeraum weist bis heute eine europaweit einzigartig hohe Konzentration an kooperativen regionalen Strukturen auf. Diese bilden gemeinsam ein enges Netzwerk von Vereinigungen, die unter dem Überbegriff der "Ostseezusammenarbeit’ interagieren.

Diese Studie analysiert die Hintergründe dieses regionalen Phänomens oder so genannten „Ostsee-Rätsels“ auf Basis eines Vergleichs zwischen den Regionalpolitiken zweier staatlicher Schlüsselakteure, Schweden und Finnland, wobei der europäische Integrationsprozess als übergeordneter Bezugsrahmen für die Untersuchung dient.