Less than one week after presenting the Commission's proposal for the future cohesion policy, I was in Tallinn, on 4 and 5 June, on the occasion of the forum of the EU's strategy for the Baltic Sea Region; the occasion to explain in details our proposal to the Baltic States.
With each of them I explained what our proposal meant to their respective countries: fewer and simpler rules, less red tape, flexibility to adapt funds to unforeseen circumstances means that all those involved in cohesion policy funds in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will find managing those funds much easier than in the past. And for me, the less complex the procedure to use EU funds, the more our cities, regions, hospitals, schools, and business are likely to use them, to the benefit of all citizens.
I also stressed the need for a quick adoption of the next financial period. Indeed, a quick agreement means a quick start of the period, which in turn gives beneficiaries of EU funds more time to prepare, plan and complete projects over the next seven years.
I reiterated these messages when meeting representatives of the Financial Affairs Committee in the Estonian Parliament, as well as at the conference on the future multiannual financial Framework, the so-called "MFF" (the financial period setting EU expenditure ceilings per year and per policy), a conference that brought together hundreds of Estonian parties involved in the management of our funds.
It was my pleasure to open the Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, in Estonia's beautiful capital, Tallinn. The Baltic Sea Region is the oldest, and the most successful, of the four European macro-regional strategies (the others being the Danube, the Alpine and the Adriatic-Ionian strategies). It brings together eight EU Member States representing 80 million inhabitants: Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden (to which one should add that it also welcomes cooperation with non-EU countries from the region, namely Belarus, Iceland, Norway and Russia in actions and projects of common interest.
I congratulated its members for their tremendous achievements brought about by their efforts to work together on issue ranging from the environment to safe sea travels. On my last day, I actually had the chance to see for myself the sort of achievements we are talking about: I visited the "BaltSe@nior" project at Tallinn university. There, nine countries from the Baltic Sea region have put their resources together to develop cutting-edge technology to improve elderly people's quality of life. Not only does the project help elderly people, but it also creates business opportunities for local enterprises, thus creating more jobs in the area.