Central Political Leaders in Baltic Sea Region participate in BDF Summit

Apart from the President of the European Commission, five Prime Ministers and two deputy Prime Ministers from the Region will be at the BDF Summit in Vilnius.

For the first time, the 2010 Baltic Development Forum Summit coincides with the Baltic Sea States Summit and thus provides an exceptional opportunity for the participants in the BDF Summit in Vilnius 1-2 June to receive first hand information of the visions of some of the leading politicians in the Baltic Sea Region.

We are proud to inform that apart from the President of the European Commission, five Prime Ministers and two deputy Prime Ministers of the Baltic Sea Region will be present at our meeting. They will participate in a session held Wednesday 2 June at 08.30 hours titled EU Strategy and Northern Dimension: Developing a Business Agenda for the Region, sharing their vision on economic recovery and economic development of the Region

The leading politicians we have the unique opportunity to welcome are: Andrius Kubilius (Prime Minister Lithuania), Maud Olofsson (deputy Prime Minister Sweden), Jens Stoltenberg (Prime Minister Norway), Matti Vanhanen (Prime Minister Finland), Lene Espersen (deputy Prime Minister Denmark), Andrus Ansip (Prime Minister Estonia), Valdis Dombrovskis (Prime Minister Latvia), and Jose Manuel Barroso (President of the European Commission). A Minister from Poland is also expected.

On behalf of the Directors of Nordic and the Baltic confederation of industries – who are meeting in parallel to the BDF Summit – CEO Hans Skov Christense will present some proposal to the Prime Ministers as to how growth and green jobs can be created in the region and as part of the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. At the same time the Ministers will receive Baltic Development Forum’s report Going for Green Growth in the Baltic Sea Region which is prepared by Copenhagen Economics and sponsored by the Danish Industry Foundation.

Baltic Sea Region Affairs: The State of the Region Report 2010
Press release
Copenhagen, Denmark, 28 May 2010
The 2010 State of the Region Report released by Baltic Development Forum today ahead of its Annual Meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, 1-2 June 2010, is titled Top of Europe Recovering: Regional Lessons from a Global Crisis.

The report, the seventh in this series of annual evaluations of competitiveness and cooperation across the Baltic Sea Region, takes the Region’s economic temperature in the first year after the onslaught of the global crisis.

The report tracks different indicators of competitiveness and cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, following the framework introduced in previous years. A special focus of this year’s report is an analysis of the longer-term economic trends in the Baltic countries and Poland.

“While there is no reason for pessimism about the fundamental competitiveness of the Region, it is too early to call the crisis over”, says the author of the report Dr. Christian Ketels. “The drastic slowdown of the Baltic Sea Region economy is to a large degree the natural result of a global crisis hitting a group of small open economies. But the quick return of business sentiments to pre-crisis levels is not supported by economic fundamentals. Regional cooperation across the Region remains strong, but the general context is less supportive for joint action than in previous years.”

Authors from the three Baltic countries and Poland contributed to this year’s report. “The experience of these countries is a lesson of the profound positive contribution EU membership has made over the last decade, despite the painful recent crisis in the Baltic countries”, comments Dr. Ketels. “But it also reveals that following EU guidelines is not sufficient to achieve sustained gains in competitiveness. What these countries now need is a new growth strategy, taking into account their respective national opportunities and capabilities.”
Key Messages of the Report

The Baltic Sea Region has been hit disproportionally hard by the global crisis, with both labor productivity and labor mobilization dropping; the current speed of recovery is high but fragile

The dramatic fall in exports has been accompanied by a worrying loss of market share; the crisis might have accelerated structural trends in the global economy working against the Region

The competitiveness fundamentals remain strong; the on average solid fiscal position of governments even creates opportunities to pull ahead of some international peers

The level of regional collaboration remains strong, with the EU Baltic Sea Region strategy an important reference, but the governance structure is only emerging

The last decade has been a period of impressive overall performance for the Baltic countries; they have been remarkably resilient in the difficult adjustment progress; the deep current crisis signals, however, that the economic policy approach needs to be fundamentally reviewed

Macroeconomic policy in the Baltic countries has been too narrowly focused on meeting the legal requirements for Euro-zone accession, neglecting the medium-term sustainability of financial markets and, in some countries, public finances

Microeconomic upgrading in the Baltic countries has been effective in market opening and (mostly) in the adoption of EU rules and regulation; it has largely failed in building distinct competitive strengths and especially in leading to the fundamental upgrading of local companies

Poland’s better performance during the crisis is not a reflection of higher or more robust competitiveness, but the result of country-specific factors; its good current position is a unique opportunity to address the country’s competitiveness weaknesses

To take full advantage of its unique level of existing regional linkages despite a complex political situation following the crisis, the Region should renew the argument for regional collaboration, rethink the appropriate approach towards competitiveness upgrading, and rebuild the institutional framework for collaboration.
About the Report

The State of the Region Report, drawing on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, is authored by Dr. Christian Ketels, Principal Associate at Harvard Business School. Over the years it has become a respected benchmarking tool regarding competitiveness, economic performance and prosperity in Northern Europe.

It is used by governments, organizations, financial institutions and business. The 2010 report will also be submitted to the Heads of Governments of the Baltic Sea States Summit, also held in Vilnius 1-2 June.

The 2010 report was developed with support of the Nordic Council of Ministers and the European Investment Bank.
Baltic Development Forum