Exploring the Baltic Sea Region

On territorial capital and spatial integration. Nordregio Report 2008:3

The findings contained in this report and developed within the East-West Window project, financed under the umbrella of the BSR INTERREG IIIB-Neighbourhood programme (TACIS strand), provide valuable insights into the search for evidence-based information on the Baltic Sea Region's territorial capital and its potentials for spatial integration, which can be meaningful for the current elaboration of two transnational strategic policy papers for the Baltic Sea Region (BSR), namely, the Long Term Perspective (LTP) for the BSR, on the one hand, and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, on the other. The first is tasked with identifying the most important challenges currently hampering spatial integration within the region and between the region and its surroundings as well as with pinpointing the most important elements for a spatial strategy or vision with a time horizon up to the year 2030. The intention here is to approve the Long Term Perspective (LTP) at the VASAB Ministerial Conference in September 2009. The second policy paper with DG Regio in the lead has as its aim to coordinate the efforts of various actors in the Baltic Sea Region so that by working together they promote a more balanced development of the region. The Strategy will be presented to the European Council in June 2009 and will feature as one of the main priorities of the Swedish EU Presidency during the second half of 2009. The ongoing EU level debate, launched by the European Commission's Green Paper (October 2008) on Territorial Cohesion is also connected to this process. The goal of this debate is to come to a better and shared understanding of territorial cohesion and its implications for policy-making and territorial cooperation.

The current report contains multifaceted analytical findings regarding the BSR's territorial capital. Issues such as population development, labour market dynamics (specifically in small and medium-sized cities and towns), he international functions of metropolitan areas, transport networks, mobility, accessibility, ICT and finally, energy production and distribution are explored. The report concludes with an extended discussion of current strategic issues in respect of spatial planning, policy-making and programming with a view to further contributing to territorial cohesion and spatial integration in the BSR.