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Carmen Gebhard, Policy Outline in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 104 - 108

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5 https://doi.org/10.5771/9783845212395

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

Bibliographic information
104 grammes.”352 The institutional design of the ENP has been criticised for its “optimistic reliance on the well-established model of enlargement” even though the circumstances conditioning the success of the ENP are very different from the pre-accession situation of the Central and Eastern European States.353 Another structural reference can be identified for the EU ND. The ENP built on the policy model of the EU ND, with particular emphasis on the advantages of the structural openness in the context of regional and sub-regional cooperation. The Northern Dimension currently provides the only regional framework in which the EU participates with its Eastern partners to address trans-national and cross-border issues. […] New initiatives to encourage regional cooperation between Russia and the Western NIS [Newly Independent States – Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus] might also be considered. These could draw upon the Northern Dimension concept to take a broader and more inclusive approach to dealing with neighbourhood issues.354 Another instance where the EU ND was explicitly mentioned as an exemplary model was the combat of environmental threats in the ENP framework. Efforts to combat trans-boundary pollution – air, sea, water or land – should be modelled on the collaborative approach taken by the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership.355 These structural references notwithstanding, the institutional role the ENP has taken over within the CFSP of the Union has nevertheless derogated the visibility of the North and the Northern agenda. The ENP stands for the general tendency of the EU of rather turning to the East and the unsettled South than to the decent and uncontroversial North. In fact, the challenges emerging from these geographical areas are far more acute, and thus, more essential for the Union to be tackled. The success of the EU’s performance in its disconcerted neighbourhood must be seen as a key factor to determine its international standing as well as its legitimacy and acceptance on the global scene. B. The EU Northern Dimension – A General Overview Policy issues specifically addressing the Northern ‘near abroad’ of the Union first entered the EU agenda when the Nordic Countries, and especially Sweden and Finland began to shift their political attention from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the more comprehensive European integration project and their future membership in the EU.356 However, not even the preparations for the Swedish and the Finnish accession in 352 General approach to enable ENP partner countries to participate in Community agencies and Community programmes. Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. COM(2006) 724, 4 December 2006. 353 See GEBHARD Carmen: Assessing EU Actorness Towards its ‘Near Abroad’. The European Neighbourhood Policy. Conference Paper, presented at the Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge in April 2007. Maastricht/Stockholm 2007, p. 18. 354 Wider Europe – Neighbourhood. A New Framework for Relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours. Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. COM(2003) 104 final, 11 March 2003, p. 8. 355 Ibd., p. 12. For a critical discussion of the structural references to the EU ND, see VAHL Marius: Models for the European Neighbourhood Policy. The European Economic Area and the Northern Dimension. In: CEPS Working Document No. 218/ February 2005. 356 See CATELLANI Nicola: The EU’s Northern Dimension. Testing a New Approach to Neighbourhood Relations? Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Research Report 35, Stockholm 2003, p. 2. 105 1995 directly resulted in a distinct policy framework for this part of the continent. The establishment of the EU ND dates back to a Finnish initiative that was first brought up and circulated in late 1996, and officially promoted in 1997 by the then Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen. The formal launch of the official EU policy occurred in November 1998, in the form of a communication by the European Commission.357 The following chapter provides an introductory outline of the ND, focusing in particular on the content of the statutory documents and the most important steps in the course of the implementation process. This will be followed by a critical discussion of the policy.358 I. Policy Outline The official communication on the EU ND was launched in response to a request posed by the European Council held in Luxembourg in December 1997, which resulted from the above-mentioned Finnish Northern Dimension Initiative (NDI). The policy is a common undertaking by the European Commission and the EU Member States together with a group of partners. The Commission plays the leading role in the implementation of the policy. It is responsible for project programming according to the EU ND action plans and for the proposition of appropriate follow up measures. The policy was designed as a regional dimension within the external and cross-border policies of the EU, intending to cover the Baltic Sea Region, the Arctic Sea Region including Iceland and Norway and North West Russia. It seeks to address the specific challenges of these regions, which result from specificities like the harsh climate, the long distances and the extreme disparities in living standard and welfare as well as the ecological sensitivity of the Baltic and the Arctic sea regions. It aims to create security and stability in this part of the continent, putting special emphasis on the enhancement of a safe, clean and accessible environment. Another major aim is to increase cooperation between the EU Member States and the European neighbourhood, most particularly Russia. In fact, the early working documents circulated in the EU ND context showed a clear focus on the EU policy towards Russia. In its conclusions, the European Council of Cardiff (June 1998) emphasised the significance of “the commitment of the EU to help Russian efforts to tackle the problem of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste in North-West Russia and notes that such work might be taken forward under the proposed Northern Dimension”359 as the single priority at this point of the policy development process. The EU ND Communication launched in November 1998 then sought to – recall the Union’s activities and instruments with regard to the northern dimension; – set out the challenges facing the region; – identify areas where the EU could provide added value; – establish guidelines and operational recommendations for future action. While highlighting the human and economic potential of the region, the document put again particular emphasis on the significance of the bilateral relations towards Russia. 357 Northern Dimension for the Policies of the Union. Communication from the Commission. COM(1998) 589 final, 25 November 1998. 358 See chapter “The EU Northern Dimension – Showcase for the Swedish-Finnish Divide?”, p. 132-, and chapter “Evaluation: The EU ND Reconsidered” (p. 148-) for a critical reconsideration of the policy in view of the Swedish-Finnish comparison. 359 Presidency Conclusions. Cardiff European Council, 15 and 16 June 1998. SN 150/1/98, pt. 79. 106 The Northern region is also the Union’s only direct geographical link with the Russian Federation and, as such, is important for co-operation between the EU and that country.360 The EU ND Communication expressed the clear intent that the EU ND was going to be based upon existing activities and policy instruments. The EU ND should by no means lead to the duplication of current structures and policies. The policy tools at hand should be employed in a coordinated way in order to serve the essential objectives of facilitating economic and political cooperation, and to enhance the development of networks in the fields of infrastructure, telecommunications, energy and transport. The European Union strongly supports regional co-operation across the continent of Europe. In Northern Europe, regional co-operation is promoted by existing regional fora, notably the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the Barents Euro Arctic Council (BEAC), in which the European Commission participates, and the Arctic Council. The Northern Dimension ensures that the Union’s activities and available instruments continue to focus on this region. [...] It can contribute to the strengthening of the Union’s external policies and reinforcement of the positive interdependence between Russia and the Baltic Sea region and the European Union, notably by achieving further synergies and coherence in these policies and actions.361 The Commission identified the dramatic disparities in living standards as one of the most pressing challenges to be tackled in the region. Again, the official threat assessment in this context largely focussed on Russia. Differences in border areas between the Union and the Russian Federation are considerable. In the Russian Federation the infant mortality rate is today approximately six times higher than in neighbouring Finland. Life expectancy at birth is below 57 years in Russia, 77 in Finland. Narrowing down the disparities in living standards is today one of the major challenges for the Northern region.362 The communication also pointed at the important issues of energy, transport and natural resources. On the one hand, the region is said to bear enormous potential for further oil and gas exploitation, on the other, the Northern European environment is very vulnerable to progressive ecological degradation. Once again, Russia is mentioned as the primary example given the extent of environmental risks emanating from outdated and inefficient technologies in oil extraction and mining.363 A similar distribution of priorities is given in the context of nuclear safety where Russia, most particularly its Western North, is perceived as a major source of potential threat. The treatment of nuclear waste in North West Russia is not at an adequate level of safety. Large quantities of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel are not properly managed or stored, especially on the Kola Peninsula. This is an important problem in which the European Community, Russia, the US, and Norway, are already engaged, for example in the framework of the Barents Euro Arctic Council.364 360 Northern Dimension for the Policies of the Union. Communication from the Commission. COM(1998) 589 final, 25 November 1998, pt. 5. 361 Ibd., pt. 9, 10 and 11. 362 Ibd., pt. 13. 363 See ibd., pt. 16 and 17. 364 Ibd., pt. 18. 107 This quotation does not only show again that the EU ND has a very strong focus on the relationship towards Russia but that it also builds on existing structures both within and outside the Union. References to regional organisations like the Barents Euro Arctic Council add a certain decentralising aspect to the policy since responsibilities appear to be “outsourced”, and thus, shifted away from the supranational level of action. In the context of the economic growing potential, the communication also emphasises the important role of the Baltic States, stressing that the EU highly acknowledges the Baltic efforts in light of their upcoming accession.365 The communication touches upon a set of challenges that the EU ND will seek to address, or at least, where it intends to contribute to the development and materialisation of regional counter-measures or long-term solutions. The document mentions illegal trafficking in drugs, nuclear material, illegal migration, criminal activities across borders, money laundering, social, training (managerial and vocational) and health issues, including reinforcement of consumer protection, veterinary and phytosanitary control as some of the most urgent threats that are to be addressed in the near future.366 The communication then proceeds to identify areas where the Union could offer an added value; priority is given to:367 – the exploitation of natural resources (especially gas and non-energy raw material), – the development of communications and transport, – environmental protection, – health (combat certain diseases) – nuclear safety, – trade and commercial cooperation, – research and technology, – fighting criminal activities across borders, as well as – social problems. The guidelines for the financial implementation of the EU ND strongly emphasise the institutional design of the whole policy undertaking, since it also suggests a structural reliance on existing structures and tools. Concerning the assistance programmes relevant for the Northern Dimension, the European Community will follow the existing procedures, within existing budgets. Assistance will continue to be provided through existing programmes.368 The EU ND is meant to operate through the existing EU financing instruments (TACIS, Phare and INTERREG), aiming to achieve added value of them. International financial institutions (IFI) (e.g. the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Nordic Investment Bank, the Nordic Environment Finance Cooperation, the Nordic Project Fund) and the private sector also play an important role in the financial handling of the policy. This implies in the first place that the policy is not provided with selfstanding allocations within the main EC budget. 365 See ibd., pt. 21. 366 See ibd., pt. 24. 367 See ibd., pt. 27. 368 Ibd., pt. 29. 108 Eventually, the document recommended that the Commission should develop institutional arrangements to enhance effective coordination of existing policy instruments and that studies should be undertaken and funded by the community in order to develop expertise and assess the potential and needs specific for the region. By way of conclusion, the communication also offered concrete guidelines to frame the implementation process. Special emphasis and detailed instructions were given in the fields of energy, environment and nuclear safety, cross border cooperation, trade, transport and health. II. Policy Implementation and Progression Since its formal launch almost one decade ago, the EU ND has gone through an extensive development of implementation and further conceptual modification and innovation. The course of progression has generally been rather erratic with distinguished activist phases followed by long periods of stagnation. Given the numerous stages that the policy framework has gone through, the following overview cannot be exhaustive. It focuses on major achievements in the overall implementation process, and briefly indicates the respective formal consequences. 09/97 Launch of the Finnish Northern Dimension Initiative (NDI) 12/98 Vienna European Council adopted formally acknowledged the Finnish initiative 06/99 Cologne European Council adopted “Guidelines for the implementation of the ND” “The implementation and further development of the ND should be done in close consultation with the partners through the existing agreements and within regional bodies such as the CBSS and the BEAC. Council recommends that the relevant bodies should consider how to create synergies between the existing EU-programmes.”369 11/99 Commission Communication “Strengthening the ND of European Energy Policy” “Energy has been identified as one of the key sectors in which significant added value of the EU ND is expected. The long term potential for the exploitation of oil, gas and non-energy raw materials (e.g. non-ferrous metal) is huge, but will require substantial improvements in energy and transport infrastructure.”370 11/99 1st Ministerial Conference on the EU ND, initiated and hosted by the Finnish EU Presidency; adoption of an “Inventory of current EU ND activities” 12/99 Helsinki European Council, invited the Commission to prepare a ND Action Plan (AP) 06/99 Feira European Council adopted the 1st “Action Plan for the ND in the external and cross-border policies of the EU (2001-2003)” (ND AP) 2001 The EU ND enters the operational phase 03/01 Establishment of the “Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership” (NDEP) by the IFI active in the region (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Nordic Investment Bank, World Bank), intending to signal the endorsement of a new approach in promoting environmental investments, and in order to coordinate efforts to bring solutions to the legacy of environmental damage in the ND Area.. The European Investment Bank joined the NDEP, when their mandate was extended to environmental loans in Russia.371 369 Guidelines for the implementation of the ND, adopted by the Council of 31 May 1999. DOC 9034/99. 370 Strengthening the Northern Dimension of European Energy Policy. Communication from the Commission. COM(1999) 164, November 1999. 371 For in-depth information, see the official NDEP website www.ndep.org [23 January 2007].

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Zusammenfassung

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.