Wed, Jun 28, 2017

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B7 Baltic Islands Network

Knud AndersenOne of the "founding fathers" of B7 back in 1989, Knud Andersen, came to speak in the Annual and Tourism Conference of B7 on 26-27th of November 2014. In his address to the representatives of Baltic islands, he said:
"The reason for Bornholm to leave the B7 is, probably, because the present government is elected based upon the policy for kindergartens, elderly care and social care; no-one was elected based upon the policy for development. Since the restructuring reform in Denmark in 2004, five regions were created to advance development and creating jobs. It is the responsibility for regions and out of hands of ordinary municipality to deal with development. Last 15 years I have been the member of the Committee of Regions in Brussels. B7 is well known and well respected in Brussels. While preparing the policy for the Baltic Sea Strategy, we used a lot of the ideas from B7. You can even read sentences and ideas made by B7 in this document. We said in this document that we do not need more money but better coordination in EU. If we believe that our National associations, in Denmark, will take care of island issues, we fail. At least in Denmark, the national associations care about Copenhagen, they don't care about islands. We have our own worries and responsibilities concerning regional policy. More and more we see policies made in Brussels, less in national capitals. We live in outskirts of Europe and development, we have to stick and support each other to make a strong voice.

I cannot make Bornholm come back to B7. What I can suggest, is to reorganise B7 and to look at whether it has to be an island to be a member of B7. You keep the B7 headline because it is a strong label. Look for the remote areas in the Baltic area that badly need development, as much as islands need, or look for smaller islands; this to keep on the voice strong in EU system to speak about regional policy. Personally I am convinced that regional policy in EU will become more and more important. Why? I'll give an example: you cannot talk just about an average development in Italy because there are big differences between South and North parts in Italy. You have to look at regional level of development while distributing your money and support. Because of that I convinced that regional policy will become more and more important issue, we have to have all people involved in progress. In bigger cities where development is ongoing it is less important than in smaller regions. It is a wrong time to reduce the cooperation in Baltic area."

B7 continues to cooperate in 2015-16 under the Presidency of Saaremaa. The main projects will be B7 art project in 2015, B7 Youth Sport Games in 2016, and political networking on the level of local Governments.

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