EU takes over HELCOM Chairmanship

Reaching a healthy Baltic Sea ecosystem by 2021, promoting innovation for a sustainable Blue Economy and tackling the challenge of regional governance are the main priorities for the European Union now chairing HELCOM until 30 June 2018. The Chairmanship of the Helsinki Commission rotates between all the Contracting Parties every two years according to their alphabetical order in English.

Ms Marianne Wenning, Director for Quality of Life, Water and Air in the European Commission, and Mr. Matjaž Malgaj, Head of the Unit that deals with Marine Environment and Water Industry, also in the European Commission, are nominated as Chair and Vice-Chair of HELCOM on behalf of the EU.

“It is an honour to take over the responsibilities of HELCOM Chair and also rather exciting at this point in time, as there are major deliverables expected in the next two years, including the first results of the HELCOM holistic assessment in mid-2017”, says Ms Wenning.  “The assessment will reveal the changes in the Baltic Sea ecosystem health since 2010 and provide a lot of new information about the pressures affecting the sea, as well as analysing the measures and economic impact”, she continues.

The priorities of the EU Chairmanship also include responding effectively to key pressures by implementing the regional action plan for marine litter and promoting sustainable agricultural practices, among others. The EU intends to promote knowledge and innovation in the Baltic Sea, in particular by the use of the BONUS programme Joint Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme (BONUS), and also foster a well-managed network of marine protected areas. 

In addition, the priorities lift up regional governance, more specifically securing cooperation with Regional Fisheries Bodies and contributing to international ocean governance. All the priorities of the EU Chairmanship of HELCOM have been summarized in a new leaflet also available in print format.

Estonia held the Chairmanship until 30 June 2016. Summary notes reflecting the accomplishments during that time have been prepared by the receding Chair, Harry Liiv, Estonia.