C 139/42 EN 11.5.2001Official Journal of the European Communities
Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Northern Dimension: Action plan forthe Northern Dimension in the external and cross-border policies of the European Union 2000-2003’
(2001/C 139/11)At its plenary session of 1 and 2 March 2000, the Economic and Social Committee, acting underRule 23(3) of its Rules of Procedure, decided to draw up an additional opinion on the ‘NorthernDimension: Action plan for the Northern Dimension in the external and cross-border policies of theEuropean Union 2000-2003’.The Section for External Relations, which was responsible for preparing the Committee’s work on thesubject, adopted its opinion on 6 February 2001. The rapporteur was Mr Uno Westerlund.At its 379th plenary session of 28 February and 1 March 2001 (meeting of 28 February 2001), theEconomic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion unanimously.1.
Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway andIceland), Russia, the three Baltic States (Estonia, Lithuania andLatvia), Poland, Germany. The Northern Dimension initiativehas therefore contributed towards the historically important1.1.
The EU’s Northern Dimension and the Baltic Sea area
Baltic Sea area’s re-emergence as a regional entity in Europe. Ithas also drawn attention to the Barents Sea area and to thecooperation efforts in the most northerly part of Europe.1.1.1. As a political concept, the ‘Northern Dimension’ hasbeen on the European Council’s agenda since 1997. TheCologne European Council established the implementationguidelines in June 19184.108.40.206. The Council of the Baltic Sea States is the Baltic Seaarea’s political cooperation body. It was established in 1992and comprises the Foreign Ministers of the member countriesThe initiative springs from the break-up of the Soviet Union;plus a member of the Commission. Since 1995 Heads of the fact that following German re-unification, the former GDRGovernment-level meetings have been attended by the EUbecame part of the EU; Finland and Sweden became new EUpresidency. The latest summit was held in April 2000 inMember States and have a tradition of close cooperationKolding, Denmark. Cooperation is being built up step by step.with Norway and Iceland; and the forthcoming enlargementMinisterial meetings have been held in ever more areas. Thereincludes Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, thereby has been a permanent secretariat since autumn 1998, with itsextending the EU’s common border with Russia.headquarters in Stockholm. A Business Advisory Council isattached to the Council.The Baltic States and Poland have all made significant progressin preparing for EU membership, and the EU has stressed theimportance of relations with Russia in various ways, inter alia1.1.4. There are also other Baltic Sea area and Barents Seaby adopting a specific Russia strategy.region forums for governmental cooperation in specialistareas:The events of the lastdecade havethus lead the EU increasingly to consider problems and development opportunities from anorthern perspective. This is of common interest to the— the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC), established inEuropean Union as a whole. Commissioner Chris Patten and1993, focusing chiefly on cooperation in the economic,the Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh stress this in a jointsocial and environmental spheres, including nucleararticle(
): ‘The Northern Dimension must be seen as an all-safety in the Barents region. Member countries areEuropean commitment, just as much as the EU’s policiesIceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Russia.towards the Mediterranean and the western Balkans’. They alsoThe European Commission also participates. The Nether-create expectations when they say ‘The Commission and thelands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Canada, Poland,Swedish presidency must now guide the EU to move fromFrance, Germany and the United States have observerwords to action’.status.— the Arctic Council, dealing chiefly with the analysis and1.1.2. The Cologne European Council defined the EU’sNorthern Dimension as being the geographic area covered by research aspects of environmental issues. Canada, theUnitedStates, Russia,Sweden,Denmark,Finland,Norway the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). These are theand Iceland are Council members. The Council hasalso begun work on sustainable development in Arcticregions.
) Financial Times, 20 December 2000.