chapter  15
20 Pages

Interfaces of European Union internal and external territorial governance: The Baltic Sea Region

ByMATTI FRITSCH

Introduction As several authors already argued in earlier chapters of this book, the recent eastern enlargement of the European Union (EU) is reshaping the European spatial planning agenda to a significant extent. North-eastern Europe in general and the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) in particular have become items of specific interest in this respect, as the region includes ‘old’ and ‘new’ as well as nonMember States. Within this context, the analysis in this chapter focuses on collective action and processes of learning and knowledge transfer in territorial governance in the BSR. Various forms of territorial development policy carried out at multiple levels of governance and an increasing awareness of, and an interest in territorial issues at the EU level constitute important elements of the territorialization of the European space (Fritsch 2009). This process of territorialization entails a politically laden visioning process of how the European space should develop both internally (into a more integrated space) as well as vis-à-vis its external neighbourhood (relations with neighbouring states and regions) (ibid.). In this respect, the BSR can be seen as a particularly interesting and challenging arena where these processes of internal and external territorialization are played out at a macro-regional level. Internally, the macro-region’s unprecedented integration as a result of the EU membership of the majority of its littoral states, the existence of numerous forms of collaborative organizations and networks, the apparent dissolving of the barrier effects of borders (cf. Haselsberger and Benneworth Chapter 10) and the subsequent reconnection of links that have been cut off during the Cold War provide a fertile ground for spatial integration in the BSR. However, the process of territorialization of the EU in general and in the BSR in particular also includes an intricate external dimension. This mainly refers to Russia’s geographic location as a non-EU littoral state (and major regional power) and its involvement and obvious interest in the development of, and cooperation within the BSR. Acknowledging the BSR’s special status as an arena where the internal and external dimensions of EU territorial governance come together, the focus of

attention in this chapter rests on territorial governance initiatives, which mainly emanate from within the EU territory, and their interrelationship with other large regional power and territorial entities in the region (i.e. the Russian Federation). Although it is clear that many other initiatives and actions exist in relation to territorial governance in the BSR, the long-running Vision and Strategies Around the Baltic Sea 2010 (VASAB) and the more recent and, at least on paper, novel EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, which, if successful, may serve as a model for other macro-regions in Europe, are used as case studies. The wider aim of this chapter is therefore to examine how initiatives of mutual learning and knowledge exchange as well as policy-making in territorial governance have been deployed and carried out between a variety of actors in the BSR and to examine the extent to which the Russian dimension has been either excluded or included in these activities. The chapter is structured as follows. First, the internal and external dimensions of EU territorial governance will be explored in a wider context. Second, the territorial features and specificities of the BSR will be highlighted. Third, spatial planning cooperation and territorial governance in the BSR will be analyzed with regard to its external and internal dimensions by focusing on two territorial governance initiatives (VASAB and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region) that deal with knowledge production and exchange as well as policy transfer in multi-level networks. Finally, conclusions will be drawn on the presented discussion.