Fostering Transborder Co-operation in the Kaliningrad Region: a Requirement of Social Cohesion - CG (9) 27 Part 2

Halvdan SKARD (Norway, L)

Explanatory Memorandum1


The CLRAE carried out a fact-finding mission to Kaliningrad 2-3 December 2002. The purpose was to get acquainted with the situation in Kaliningrad in general and in particular with the situation with regard to transfrontier co-operation between Kaliningrad and its neighbouring countries’, Lithuania and Poland. The mission was a follow-up to the discussion, in the CLRAE Bureau working group on Kaliningrad, about the forthcoming introduction of the Schengen-visa regime in Poland and Lithuania and its impact on transfrontier co-operation in the Kaliningrad region. The CLRAE delegation was composed of;

Mr. SKARD (President, Norway)
Mr. GRZELAK (Poland)
Mr. SALTYKOV (Russia)
Mr. ZAVECKAS (Lithuania)
Mr. LINDBERG (CLRAE Secretariat)

Moreover, Mrs. Elita CAKULE of the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities joined the mission as Mr. SKARD’s assistant.

The CLRAE delegation held meetings with:

Following Mr. Skard’s preliminary report to the Bureau of the Congress on 16 December, about the findings of the mission, the Bureau instructed Mr. Skard to draft a report on how to foster transfrontier co-operation in the Kaliningrad region.
The Bureau furthermore invited Mr. Hans-Martin Tschudi, Switzerland, Congress General Rapporteur on transfrontier co-operation, to assist the Rapporteur.

This draft report is to be sent to the Committee of Social Cohesion of the Congress with a view to be submitted to the Spring Session of the Congress. It was also agreed that the issue of Kaliningrad would be an item on the agenda of the
St. Petersburg Conference 6-7 October 2003.

The issue of visa and transit of Russian citizens

The Rapporteurs do not wish to pronounce themselves on the introduction of the Schengen visa regime in Lithuania and Poland as such, but they acknowledge its impact on transfrontier co-operation in the region and they take note of the agreement reached by the European Union and the Russian Federation concerning the question of transit of between Kaliningrad and mainland Russia. Point 5 of the EU/Russia Summit of 11 November 2002 notably provides that:

“The European Union will introduce the necessary legislation to establish by 1 July 2003 a Facilitated Transit Document (FTD) scheme to apply for the transit of Russian citizens only between Kaliningrad and other parts of Russia by land. The FTD will be valid for direct transit by land from one third country to the same third country within a limited period of time and will be issued free of charge or at a very low cost”.

It should also be noted that the Parliamentary Assembly adopted, on 25 September 2002, Recommendation 1569 (2002), recalling that (paragraph 1):
“The statutory aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve greater unity among its member states, which also requires fostering and facilitating contacts between all Europeans, including through the travelling of persons across international borders in Europe. The Assembly recalls in this context the measures taken to facilitate the movement of persons under the European Agreement on Regulations Governing the Movement of Persons between Member States of the Council of Europe of 1957” [NB: this Convention, however, was neither signed nor ratified by the Russian Federation, Poland or Lithuania].

In paragraph 11 of the above recommendation the Parliamentary Assembly furthermore invites the Committee of Ministers to

The Committee of Ministers is currently examining this question. The Congress supports the efforts of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers, and encourages national authorities from the Russian Federation, Lithuania and Poland, to find ways that will enhance freedom of movement of the population living at the borders between the three above countries in particular given the forthcoming expansion of the Schengen visa regime to include Poland and Lithuania

2. Council of europe Action to Promote Transfrontier cooperation

It should be recalled that the Council of Europe has already been contributing to the promotion of transfrontier co-operation in the Kaliningrad area. Notably, and in addition to the above Parliamentary Assembly recommendation, the Directorate General of Legal Affairs organised a study seminar on transfrontier co-operation in the Kaliningrad area 11-12 October 2001 and a joint meeting of the bilateral committees (Lithuania, Poland, Russia) for transfrontier co-operation 17-18 October 2002.

Following the above events, the Steering Committee on transfrontier co-operation launched a study on "measures to address some of the problems of the Kaliningrad region". The study will be published in Spring 2003.

Moreover, the Confidence-Building Measures Programme has funded a project entitled “Historical consciousness of youth in the district of Kaliningrad, Western Lithuania and Warmia-Mazury”.

Finally, the European Agreement on Regulations Governing the Movement of Persons between Member States of the Council of Europe of 1957 does, as stated above, by definition further contacts and cross-border co-operation between Member States.

3. Existing Mechanisms for Transfrontier Co-Operation in the Kaliningrad Region

3.1. Existing Structures for Transfrontier co-operation in the Kaliningrad Region

There are already a number of mechanisms for transfrontier co-operation in the Kaliningrad area, even though there is still room to develop it much further. The below list includes the major frameworks, but not necessarily all existing ones.

3.1.1 The Intergovernmental Bilateral Co-operation Councils on Transfrontier Co-operation

Intergovernmental bilateral co-operation councils on transfrontier co-operation, with commissions covering different policy areas, already exist between Kaliningrad and Poland on the one hand, and between Kaliningrad and Lithuania on the other hand. They are already well established and operational. Ways of further developing transfrontier co-operation by means of these councils should be sought.

3.1.2 The Euro-regions

The existing co-operation within the framework of the three Euro-regions Neman, Saule and Baltica, in which Kaliningrad is a member, constitutes an important contribution to the overall transfrontier co-operation. The mandate of the Euro-regions is to inter alia enhance co-operation between transfrontier districts in the field of economy and infrastructure development, territorial planning, education, public health, culture, tourism, environmental protection, improve the standard of living, strengthen links between municipalities, co-operate in spatial planning and improve transportation links. The Euro-regions structures lend themselves well to even more comprehensive co-operation.

3.1.3. The Nordic Dimension - EU Northern Dimension Action Plan (NDAP).

In December 1998 the European Commission presented a communication on the Northern Dimension to the European Council meeting held in Vienna, which set out the relevant EU policies and instruments as well as operational recommendations on a northern dimension for the policies of the European Union. The first Guidelines for the implementation of a Northern Dimension was adopted by the European Council in June 1999.

The guidelines were followed by the current European Union Nordic Dimension Action Plan, which was endorsed by the European Council held in Feira in June 2000. The Action Plan covers the following areas:

- Infrastructure

- Environment and Nuclear Safety

- Public Health

- Economic and Business-co-operation, Trade and Investment Promotion

- Research and technological Development

- Justice and Home Affairs

- Cross-border co-operation

In the Action Plan there are many explicit references to the situation of Kaliningrad. Among other regarding health (spread of communicable diseases and fight against drugs and alcohol abuse), energy, justice and home affairs etc.

Notably, under the heading “Trade Business Co-operation and Investment Promotion” it is stated that “Special support should be given to promotion of cross-border business co-operation, most appropriately between the Kaliningrad oblast and it’s neighbours…”. Moreover, under the chapter entitled “Justice and Home Affairs” it is stated that, “A common visa policy, as defined in the Schengen acquis, will be extended to new EU member states. Due attention is being given to this question in the framework of the PCA, particularly as regards Kaliningrad. In order to ensure fluid cross-border co-operation, ways of facilitating the issuance of visas might be examined and supported by appropriate instruments”.

3.2 Organisations Promoting Transfrontier Co-operation in the Baltic Sea Area

Moreover, there are a number of organisations actively promoting transfrontier co-operation in the Baltic Sea area, including Kaliningrad. These are:

3.2.1 The CBSS and the BSSS

One of the most prominent structures active in the Baltic Sea are is the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and its sub-regional structure called Baltic Sea State Subregional Co-operation (BSSSC), which is active also with regard to Kaliningrad. For example, the CBSS launched a Euro-faculty educational project in Kaliningrad State University in 2000. Presently the CBSS is inter alia pursuing projects aimed at improving the quality of public administration, encouraging domestic entrepreneurial activity as well as foreign investment.

3.2.2 The Union of Baltic Cities (UBC)

The Rapporteur is not aware of any particular UBC projects in Kaliningrad at the present moment in time though the UBC is continuously paying attention to the developments in Kaliningrad. It should also be noted that the cities of Kaliningrad and Baltijsk are members of the UBC.

3.2.3. The Nordic Council of Ministers

The Nordic Council of Ministers pursues a Project on Regional Transfrontier Co-operation in Adjacent Areas (this term covers the territory of the three Baltic states and North-West Russia). The aim of the co-operation is, inter alia, to capacitate creation of a network of regions involved in transfrontier co-operation (euroregions) in the adjacent areas, which can be linked with a Transfrontier co-operation network already existing in the Nordic countries.

3.3 Bilateral projects

Finally it should also be mentioned that at least Finland, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden are engaged in numerous bilateral projects in Kaliningrad

4. Concrete Measures to Develop Transfrontier Co-operation n Various Policy Areas

4.1 Policy Areas for Co-operation

Different areas could be envisaged as areas apt for transfrontier co-operation on a local and regional level. Among these one may mention:

4.1.1. Co-operation in the Health Matters

Treatment of patients in urgent need of care could be performed across borders wherever the most adequate medical facilities are to be found. In addition, co-operation, exchanges and joint training in the field of professional training of staff at all levels, including the managerial level, could be envisaged. Furthermore, joint projects to fight communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis would be in all parties’ interest, as such diseases, similar to environmental problems, do not respect borders. Bilateral agreements for joint rescue operations in case of major accidents are another potential area for co-operation.

4.1.2 Co-operation in Education and Professional Training

Exchanges and co-operation at various levels of education is a mutually beneficial way of conducting transfrontier co-operation. There are plenty of examples from elsewhere in Europe about what forms such educational exchanges may take.

The establishment of the Euro-Faculty at Kaliningrad State University must be considered a welcome step and already constitutes a good example.

Moreover, increased teaching of the language of the neighbouring countries is a certain of increasing transfrontier contacts and co-operation and should be encouraged.

Developing joint curricula about, for example, environmental issues, would be a recommendable way of linking two important policy areas lending themselves well to transfrontier co-operation.

4.1.3 Youth Exchanges

Promoting exchanges of young people across borders is always a fruitful way of laying the foundations for future co-operation in all fields between future decision-makers.

Although some youth exchanges are already taking place, they could be extended and developed further, using models from other parts of Europe. The Council of Europe Youth Directorate has long-term experience in this field and could provide such models.

4.1.4 Environment

Environmental challenges know no borders and therefore transfrontier co-operation in the field of environment is of particular importance for addressing environmental concerns. As concrete projects that could be envisaged one may mention making the Curonian Spit area at the border between Kaliningrad and Lithuania a joint protected area.

In a similar manner joint research and protection project for the maritime environment could be envisages for the coastal area at the border of Poland and Kaliningrad.

Moreover, the establishment of a joint waste management and/or recycling project could be beneficial to all three parties.

4.1.5 Employment and Training

Retraining courses, especially for former military personnel in the Kaliningrad area could be undertaken by local and regional authorities. Former military personnel could, for example, be employed within border control services. Training of border police and customs control staff could lead to increased efficiency of the border administration. Indeed, more highly qualified professional staff at borders would encourage legal trade and contacts between Kaliningrad and its neighbouring countries. Tacis-funding is available for training officials working within customs control and Poland has also offered training to Kaliningrad customs officials2.

4.1.6 Transport

New logistics links such as railway and bus connections would significantly further transfrontier co-operation. Upgrading existing roads and building new ones in the border areas would be a concrete means of promoting transfrontier co-operation.

Furthermore, ports and railways should be developed as an integrated project to ensure smooth interaction between those two forms of transport. Intermodal rail terminals to serve rail traffic using different gauge widths could be developed in Kaliningrad.

4.1.7 Energy

Energy supply is an area, which lends itself to cross-border co-operation, be that in terms of joint energy producing plants located at the border, or simply building cross-border distribution networks.

4.1.8. Border Control and Customs

Upgrading border control posts as well as training border control personnel should be considered as a precondition and priority for further development of transfrontier contacts and co-operation. The President of the European Commission has already pledged substantial EU-support for upgrading border crossings to facilitate the movement of people and goods between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia after enlargement3. Obviously all transfrontier contacts between Kaliningrad and Lithuania would profit from such an upgrading of the border crossings.

4.1.9. Reciprocal Agreements to Reduce the Cost of Visas

Visas issued by the new EU Member States after accession will be national visas until the lifting of internal border controls. Negotiations between Russia and Poland and Lithuania aiming at reducing the costs of visas would be beneficial to transfrontier co-operation.

4.10 Increased consular activities and presence

An increased consular presence from Lithuania and Poland in Kaliningrad and vice versa with individual attachés responsible for co-operation within various policy areas such as transport, environment, youth, education, culture, judiciary etc would be likely to further transfrontier co-operation both from a qualitative and quantitative point of view.

5. Tools and Models for Further developing transfrontier co-operation

5.1. Institutional Models for Co-operation

5.1.1. European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation Between Territorial Communities or Authorities

The European Outline Convention on Trans-frontier Cooperation Between Territorial Communities or Authorities provides model agreements for transfrontier co-operation. These models could be used as a point of departure for developing transfrontier co-operation between Kaliningrad and its neighbouring countries. The Russian Federation, Lithuania and Poland have all signed and ratified the Convention and it has entered into force in all three countries.

Lithuania, however, is the only one of the three countries that has ratified Protocol 1 of the above convention, which takes a more operational approach than the convention itself.

5.1.2. Introducing a Co-operation body with representatives from the regional level

Notwithstanding the work carried out within the framework of the Baltic Sea State Subregional Co-operation (BSSSC) there is at the present time no body with direct regional representation for co-operation between the oblast of Kaliningrad and its neighbouring areas. Such an institutionalised co-operation could be created using the co-operation structures and experiences of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) as a model. BEAC is particularly relevant as an example, because the Council includes representatives of regions, such as Russian oblasts. Having such regional representatives included, who know the regions better than the central authorities, but have a better overview than municipal authorities, has proved most efficient in identifying and addressing the true needs of the Barents region and a similar structure for the actors around the Kaliningrad area could set a framework for fruitful regional co-operation. The point of departure for the co-operation within the BEAC was similar to the situation in the Kaliningrad area today, which makes it a particularly useful model.

Another feature that makes the BEAC an interesting body to use as a model is that it holds both EU-countries and non-EU-members in its rank. Moreover, the BEAC maintains its own Secretariat that ensures coherence and continuity.

Another well-functioning structure, which could be used as a model is the Upper Rhine Region Council, which is an inter-state co-operation body for the border regions between France, Germany and Switzerland. Finally, a well-elaborated model for such inter-state transfrontier co-operation can be found in the Model inter-state agreement on regional transfrontier consultation (Model agreement 1.2 of the convention), which is appended to the Madrid Convention.

5.2 Legal Measures

Legal measures other than Madrid Convention model agreements

As a legal basis for a regional level body for transfrontier co-operation as suggested above, one could envisage a regional multilateral agreement on the promotion of transfrontier co-operation. The appropriate Council of Europe legal services could be asked to assist in drafting such an instrument. There are a number of examples of such agreements such as the one between the Benelux countries, the Karlsruhe agreement between France, Germany and Switzerland as well as the respective agreements between France and Spain and France and Belgium.

6. Activities to Promote Transfrontier co-operation

The various organisations and actors involved in promoting transfrontier
co-operation in the Kaliningrad area should to as large extent as possible ensure co-ordination of activities to avoid overlap and to create synergies.

Given Kaliningrad’s geographical position, and its special economic zone status, it is uniquely placed within the Russian Federation to engage in fruitful co-operation with European Union countries and to become a showcase of Russian development. However, to make full use of this advantageous position, the Russian authorities should give Kaliningrad the appropriate status to fully benefit from it.

Establishing partnerships between Euro-regions in which Kaliningrad is involved, and others in other parts of Europe, but perhaps first and foremost the ones operating in the Baltic Sea area, would seem a natural way of finding new ways of pursuing transfrontier co-operation.

Awareness-raising seminars involving civil society is another way of enhancing transfrontier co-operation. For example, a seminar could be dedicated to promoting the Confidence-Building Measures programme as a tool for local transfrontier NGOs and projects.

7. Ways of Funding Transfrontier Co-operation Activities

With the enlargement of the European Union in 2004 Kaliningrad will get borders towards the EU. This should enable the full use of the financial resources available from the Interreg funds to create transfrontier projects with Kaliningrad. In addition to Interreg funds, the PHARE and TACIS funds also lend themselves to promoting transfrontier projects. To achieve maximum synergies the use of these funds should be well coordinated.

Moreover, European Union has proposed the creation of a new Kaliningrad Fund. Though the main contribution would come from the European Commission, it would also be open to voluntary contributions from individual EU Member States and other interested parties.

In addition, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers has, following its meeting in Vilnius, created a Special Account for Regional Co-operation which could also help to develop regional co-operation in the Kaliningrad region.


1 Unanimously adopted by the Bureau of the Congress on 7 February 2003 with a view to its transmission to the Standing Committee for examination and adoption on 21 March 2003

2 Annex to letter dated 23 May 2002 from the President of the European Commission to the President of the Russian Federation

3 Letter dated 23 May 2002 from the President of the European Commission to the President of the Russian Federation