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30.8.SPEECH AT BSPC, MARIEHAMN/2010, MP Antti Kaikkonen

 

Honourable Chair,

All of us have a common concern: the Baltic Sea. The pollution of the Baltic Sea is a gloomy reality. For most of the people, unfortunately, it is maybe a distant reality. What you don't see is what you don't have to care about. Small things in everyday life can have big effects on our environment. The effects might be good – or they might be bad.

 

I have been the rapporteur of the report 'Fostering the socio-economic potential of the Baltic Sea region' on Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. To be a rapporteur has given me a vantage point on the Baltic Sea issues and I am very thankful of that as the problem is so fundamental. The Baltic Sea region’s countries have to rethink their strategic development orientations in many areas. Rethinking is important in global context and in the economic crisis which is, unfortunately, still ongoing.

 

The national parliaments and the regional parliaments should play a major role in preparing relevant Baltic Sea protection projects and overseeing their implementation. The region needs more solidarity in terms of working out joint participation mechanisms for the realisation of projects driven by their shared interests such as energy supply, cross-sector partnerships and the pooling of know-how.

 

A variety of regional structures forming solid grounds for fostering socio-economic development and stability in the south-eastern part of the Baltic Sea region have emerged since 1990s. These co-operation systems, like this conference, have had positive effects on regional exchanges concerning environmental problems and economic challenges. I want to stress that to achieve the goals in environmental issues requires countries’ mutual consent and genuine will.  It also requires awakening of the people for example in forms of environmental knowledge campaigns.

 

European Union funding which is earmarked for projects in favour of environmental sustainability, transport and energy sectors should be made good use of. There are assets for the environmental projects of the Baltic Sea region, they just should be distributed wisely. The national parliaments and regional parliamentary assemblies of the Baltic Sea region should play an active role in this and in overseeing their implementation. The increase in energy security and the pursuit of a greener development not only offer new possibilities for pragmatic collaboration in the Baltic Sea region but also vast opportunities for enhancing competitiveness.

 

The economic rise and environmental protection don’t exclude each other. As an example, many environment projects create new jobs in the field of renewable energy. Ecology and economy are two sides of the same coin. There is no economic activity which would not pollute the environment. The changes are needed in economic behaviour of the people, communities and companies to improve the situation. More efficiency in the use of energy, the lowest possible level of pollution in all economic activity and recycling of resources are all needed to really make a change.

 

Lot of work is needed to improve the situation of the Baltic Sea. The region needs closer political and economic partnership at all levels of governance additional to that what has already been achieved. It also should be ensured that European funds for priority projects in the Baltic Sea region receive sufficient additional input at national level. Mr Chair – we have to keep on workin’! Thank You very much.