The 14th German-Nordic Baltic Forum, organized by IEP together with its Danish partner Think Tank Europa (TTE), brought together policy makers and experts from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden in Copenhagen to discuss mutual challenges and interests.
The Forum featured keynote speeches by Minister of State for Europe and Climate in the German Federal Foreign Office, Anna Lührmann, and Jesper Møller Sørensen, State Secretary for Foreign Policy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, a public panel discussion among the Ambassadors of Germany and Lithuania to Denmark and Lykke Friis, Director of TTE, as well as for thematic closed door expert discussions.
Russian aggression: EU has demonstrated its resolution
Discussions were generally guided by the realization that the “Zeitenwende” - which Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine brings to Europe in various dimensions - has put the Baltic Sea region in the limelight. This paradigmatic shift is most obvious in security and defence policy. The EU has demonstrated its resolution in responding to the Russian aggression. The Baltic Sea region will remain a focal point of deterring Russia, both by traditional military means and also by mitigating hybrid threats. The Finnish and Swedish application to join NATO, and the Danish opt-in into EU defence cooperation create opportunities to further deepen security and defence cooperation.
The Baltic Sea region also has potential to not only boost EU energy security, but also significantly advance decarbonisation. Offshore wind energy and green hydrogen can play a pivotal role in answering the climate and energy crises while enhancing the EU’s security. As such, the Baltic Sea region plays a key role in implementing the EU’s RePowerEU plan and the FitFor55 package.
Already since the instrumentalization of migrants by Belarus, the EU’s Eastern border has also been a focus point of its migration and asylum policy. Current proposals of the New Pact on Migration seek to strengthen defence against such hybrid attacks, but fall short of addressing underlying dysfunctionalities. Solidarity is key to shoulder the responsibility of the common external border fairly.
EU-China relations: unified EU geo-economic strategy needed
The war in Ukraine has also fundamentally altered the rationale for the EU’s China policy, focusing on China’s role as a systemic competitor and on reducing strategic dependencies. The EU needs to ensure a level playing field with China, the anti-coercion instrument currently discussed being but one part of the puzzle. A unifying geo-economic strategy is required if the EU wants to reinforce its strategic autonomy.
In their concluding remarks, Dr. Lykke Friis, Director of TTE, and Funda Tekin, Director of IEP, emphasized the significant potential of the Baltic Sea region to enhance the EU’s resilience across security, energy, and climate policy. Continuous coordination and political will are required to translate the aspirations of the “Zeitenwende” into reality.
The 14th German-Nordic-Baltic Forum received support by the German Federal Foreign Office, the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme of the European Commission, and the Otto Wolff Stiftung.