SOLIDARITY in Europe: "We’re all sitting in the same boat!"

The icy wind stirred up the Baltic seabed near the coast of Helsinki by whipping up soft white waves in the bluish-green water… It was a fresh summer in Finland when new and fresh ideas on regional innovation strategies were presented at the SMART REGIONS 2.0 CONFERENCE!

THE HIGH-LEVEL EVENT gave participants the unique opportunity to learn about national and regional innovation strategies for smart place-based specialisation in Europe. During two days, numerous regions were able to showcase their smart specialisation in areas such as: energy transition, digital growth, circular economy, agro-food and industrial modernisation.

High-level guests were also present including, for example: the President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) MARKKU MARKKULA, who was happy about welcoming the guests in his home country. Coming originally from a sparsely-populated region in Finland – where there appears to be “more deer than inhabitants”, he likes to joke occasionally – the President of the CoR knows by experience about the need for greater social, economic and territorial cohesion especially as regards peripheral regions in Europe.

The European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, JYRKI KATAINEN and CORINA CREȚU, my favourite European Commissioner, were also present at the conference in Helsinki. Beaming with optimism, she can be described as a convincing and highly competent woman in charge of Regional and Urban Policy at the EU-level. As a female Commissioner, Mrs. CREȚU also acts as a great role model for young women in Europe.

Taking part in the CITIZENS’ DIALOGUE at the European Commission Representation in Finland, both Commissioners travelled all the way to Helsinki to also engage directly in a face-to-face dialogue with citizens “on the ground”.

Going afterwards on a BOAT EXCURSION IN THE BALTIC SEA together with Commissioner CREȚU and Commission Vice-President KATAINEN as well as numerous journalists from different countries, I am happy to have had the unique opportunity as an Interreg Youth reporter to be on board with all these fascinating people. All of us were invited to a presentation given on a new and exciting EU co-financed project called ChemSAR.

"we’re all sitting in the same boat"
....when it comes to transnational challenges that do not stop at national borders
and that require
joint European solutions!

Where then is the solidarity aspect in the CHEMSAR PROJECT? – you may wonder. The project’s solidarity aspect shows itself, I believe, in a spirit of partnership among different countries (Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, Germany and Estonia) creating synergies and joining forces all for the benefit of citizens “on the ground”.

9 project partners from different areas of expertise cooperate transnationally in the ChemSAR project:

  1. University of Turku, Centre for Maritime Studies (Finland)

  2. Finnish Border Guard

  3. Novia University of Applied Sciences (Finland)

  4. City of Helsinki

  5. Estonian Police and Border Guard Board

  6. Swedish Coast Guard

  7. Klaipėda University (Lithuania)

  8. Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (Germany)

  9. Central Command for Maritime Emergencies Germany

Coming up with shared procedures for maritime search and rescue operations, the transnational cooperation project shall help safe lives of citizens having accidents involving hazardous chemicals in the Baltic Sea. What makes the ChemSAR project so special is also its status as a flagship project of the macro-regional strategy for the Baltic Sea region. Feel free to find out more about greater coordination efforts in the Baltic Sea region by following this link here.

Being part of the wider “Baltic family”, the South Baltic cross-border cooperation programme takes a keen interest in innovative projects like the one described above of its programme partners – the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) transnational cooperation programme. As an Interreg Youth reporter, I wish our partners lots of success with their project that can help save lifes through cooperation!

Ending two unforgettable days on a positive note, I hope that my experiences shared here with you on this blog will encourage in the future many more young Europeans like me to join the growing “Interreg Youth family” of the EUROPEAN SOLIDARITY CORPS. ❤

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