Collective Action in the Baltic Sea Region: Options for Strengthening Implementation of the Environmental Pillar of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

This paper gives key recommendations for collective action to improve the environmental status of the Baltic Sea, which continues to suffer from water quality degradation related to increased activities within its basin. The paper provides an overview of the region and the environmental and political challenges it faces, describes the EU’s collective approach to addressing those challenges in the new EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, focusing on the environmental pillar, “Making the Baltic Sea Region an Environmentally Sustainable Place”. Furthermore, it assesses the legal framework related to the environment and water resources into which the strategy is placed relative to national law, EU law, international law, and some illustrative third party arrangements with non-EU member countries in the wider Baltic Sea region. Four specific recommendations are offered related to the governance framework on how the member states and EU institutions might move forward with implementation of the strategy’s environmental pillar. These relate to assessing and strengthening the current fragmented institutional framework; improving the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy; make a deepened legal assessment of overlapping international and EU law; and strengthening the existing EU Directive implementation in the EU member countries of the Baltic Sea Region.