On 31 May -1 June 2023, the Policy Area Secure Steering Group gathered for the 19th time. The meeting took place in Berlin at the premises of the Berlin Fire and Rescue Service. Under the German presidency, representatives from the 8 EU Member States form the Region, Norway, the Union of the Baltic Cities (Safe Cities Commission) and Finnish National Rescue Association (SPEK) took part in the meeting. Special guests included representatives from EU Commission DG REGIO, Baltic See Strategy Point, EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) and EUSBSR Policy Area Safe.
The meeting was opened by a welcome address of Per Kleist, Deputy Director of the Berlin Fire and Rescue Service.
Traditionally, the meeting started with the Policy Area Coordinators informing the Steering Group about the activities and project updates since the last meeting in December 2022. Among others, the participants were informed about the progress in the projects dedicated to volunteerism and youth VOALA and BYFORES; PA SECURE KIDS, focused on children in disaster risk reduction and BALTinnoSEC, successful Pilot Forum of which took place in Warsaw. PACs also briefed the Group on the upcoming potential projects on climate change risks and assisting Ukraine in adult education in civil protection.
Petri Koistinen from DG REGIO informed the Steering Group about the Fourth Report on the implementation of the EU Macro-Regional Strategies and the upcoming Council conclusions as well as encouraged the participants to register for the next EUSBSR Annual Forum in Riga on 4-5 October 2023 and provide input for the MRS week.
Marlene Riedel from the Baltic Sea Strategy Point (BSP) gave a brief introduction to the work of the BSP in providing administrative and technical support for EUSBSR management, development, and communication.
Kaspars Vārpiņš from the Union of the Baltic Cities, Safe Cities Commission presented a draft of the NEEDS project recommendations for the CBSS Civil Protection Network Directors General Meeting and received suggestions on the draft from the group.
Following the updates on the implementation of the Joint Position on Enhancing Cooperation in the Civil Protection Area, the Steering Group members discussed the planned PA Secure workshop “All hands on deck: safe and secure BSR through “whole-of-society” approach”, which will take place at the EUSBSR Annual Forum on 4 October in Riga.
What followed was unprecedented in the PA Secure history: the Steering Group members welcomed Kinga Perge from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, representing the EUSDR Policy Area 5 “Environmental Risks”. First time, a representative from another macro-regional strategy took part in the Steering Group meeting. Ms. Perge shared with the participants the focus of Danube region work, especially the successes of Disaster Management Working Group, creation of which was facilitated by the joint cross-MRS session at the EU Civil Protection Forum in 2018. The Steering Group concluded that Baltic Sea Region and Danube region have many similarities when it comes to disaster risk management, especially in the field of volunteer management and coordination. Results of EUSDR projects such as DAREnet and lessons learned from multinational exercises such as Profound can be utilized in the Baltic Sea Region with great added value. PA Secure and PA 5 agreed to continue cooperation with the concrete next steps:
- Organise virtual meeting to discuss potential cooperation for the EU Civil Protection Forum
- Team up for “macro-regional” column in the UCPM Knowledge Network Newsletter/website
Ulf Siwe, coordinator of EUSBSR PA Safe briefed about the work of his Policy Area and suggested next steps for cross-PA cooperation: an interactive session for discussing potential synergies.
In the final part of the meeting, Petri Jaatinen, from the Finnish National Rescue Association (SPEK) briefed about the organisation’s current activities including the latest initiative to calculate the monetary value of volunteering.
SPEK, trusted collaborator and partner in many Baltic Sea Region projects was invited to become a full member of the PA Secure Steering Group. Endorsed by all members, the decision was made to send the letter with approval request to the National Coordinators Group of EUSBSR.