The Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning

Type: Specialist article Date 25 May 2021 Spatial Development in the Baltic Sea Region – VASAB (Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea)

In the Baltic Sea Region, after 1990, a cooperation between the authorities responsible for spatial planning and spatial development of Baltic Sea and neighbouring countries was established under the acronym VASAB.

Logo of the Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea (VASAB) network

The first important result in 1994 was the joint development of a spatial development vision “Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea 2010”. At the same time, it was the first vision for a large, transnational cooperation area worldwide and has shaped further cooperation under the term “VASAB 2010”. Cooperation is carried out by employees of the related authorities within a Committee on Spatial Planning and Development of the Baltic Sea Region (CSPD/BSR). It is supported by a Secretariat and prepares periodical ministerial conferences. Germany is represented by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI), the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) and the Federal State Government of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

By formulating a framework for spatial development in 1994, the Spatial Development Action Programme – VASAB 2010 Plus in 2001 and other activities, the spatial planning ministers have also delivered essential inputs for the transnational funding programmes (Interreg) in the Baltic Sea Region cooperation area. In addition, they participated in the management of these programmes and their implementation via key projects.

Following the decision of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning in 2005, a long-term strategy and an action plan on spatial development in the Baltic Sea Region were worked out (VASAB Long Term Perspective for the Territorial Development of the Baltic Sea Region). The documents were adopted in October 2009 at the 7th Conference of Ministers for Spatial Planning and Development of the Baltic Sea states in Vilnius and implemented in the following years.

From 2010 on, an important focus of VASAB's work was the macroregional EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) VASAB coordinates the spatial planning policy area with two priorities, land-based spatial planning and maritime spatial planning. The first is based on the “Long-Term Perspective”. It, among other things, includes to contribute to better adaptation of strategies to different types of areas by ensuring pan-Baltic dialogue, to support place-based approaches and functional area concepts by sharing knowledge and best practices and to regularly monitor territorial development processes in the context of ESPON and similar organisations. In addition to the exchange of experiences, VASAB directly participates in specific implementation projects through the Secretariat or the member states.

Following EU Directive (2014/89/EU), all EU coastal countries for the first time have to draw up maritime spatial plans by 2021. In their planning and management processes, the member states must ensure that the national plans are coordinated and, in particular, take cross-border issues into account. In the Baltic Sea Region, this is done via a joint working group of VASAB and HELCOM (Helsinki Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission). The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), which is responsible for maritime spatial planning in Germany, has been actively involved in this working group and in numerous projects for many years.

In spring 2021, work on an update of the “Long-Term Perspective” began. The focus is in particular on new global and Baltic Sea-wide trends and challenges such as demographic change and out-migration, the impacts of climate change and digitisation on the environment, living conditions and the spatial structure of human activities as well as on the particular endangerment of the Baltic Sea.

Publications

BBSR (ed.): European transport corridors and regional development. Informationen zur Raumentwicklung 7/8.2012, Bonn 2012
>> more information

VASAB Committee on Spatial Development (ed.): VASAB Long-Term Perspective for the Territorial Development of the Baltic Sea Region. October 2009
Long-Term Perspective

VASAB Committee on Spatial Development (ed.): Background Synthesis Document. VASAB Long-Term Perspective for the Territorial Development of the Baltic Sea Region. October 2009
Long-Term Perspective

Links

VASAB 2010 homepage
VASAB 2010

Long-Term Perspective (LPT) update 2021/2022
LPT update

INTERREG B website
INTERREG B

BEA-APP (Interreg B project)
BEA-APP

Baltic Lines (Interreg B project)
Baltic LINes

MARA (Interreg B project)
MARA

European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) website
EUSBSR

The importance of European cooperation in maritime spatial planning
Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH)

Contact

  • Jens Kurnol
    Division RS 3 "European Spatial and Urban Development"
    Phone: +49 228 99401-2304
    E-Mail: jens.kurnol@bbr.bund.de

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