66th Executive Board meeting, Umeå, 7-9 March 2013

 Minutes of the 66th Meeting of the Executive Board
 Umeå, 8 March 2013
 
 
1.            Study visit to Umeå Arts Campus.
 
Members of the Executive Board had an opportunity to pay short visit to the Umeå Arts Campus (UAC). UAC is the name of a former industry area rebuilt to house several of the arts educations at Umeå University. The campus is an education centre for architecture, design and artwork. UAC consists of Umeå School of Architecture, Umeå Institute of Design, Umeå Academy of Fine Arts, Bildmuseet museum, the experimental platform for "humanities and new media" HUMlab and the ‘Sliperiet’ incubator. Umeå University, Umeå Municipality and the Baltic Group Foundation has funded the undertaking.
More info at: www.kc.umu.se/en
 
2.            Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda.
 
Per Bødker Andersen, President of the Union opened the meeting. Mr Andersen expressed his gratitude to the hosts for inviting the UBC Executive Board to hold the meeting in Umeå. The meeting adopted the agenda, attached to the minutes.
 
Marie-Louise Rönnmark, Mayor of Umeå, 1st Vice-President of UBC welcomed all participants and presented a short movie introducing the plans for European Capital of Culture 2014 in Umeå. The city is the most northerly Capital of Culture ever. Umeå's objective as European Capital of Culture is to promote human growth, strengthen the role of culture as a driving force for sustainable development of society, and reinforce cultural life´s international relations and dimensions.
 
Umeå 2014 goes by the motto of Curiosity and Passion — the art of co-creation. The vision of the Culturized City, the mission to Stay Cool, and the Open Source strategy form the main theme of the programme. “Co-creation” is the key word in Umeå 2014’s capital of culture initiative. The concept means that everyone can participate and contribute to the programme. To promote a long-term perspective and encourage the continuance of capital of culture activities beyond 2014, it is intended that projects should be run by the “cultural operators” themselves.
 
3.            Election of two persons who, together with the President, will check the minutes.
Karin Wohlgemuth, Rostock and Jan Björinge, Umeå, were elected to check the minutes together with the President.
 
4.            EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region.
               
- information on EUSBSR updated Action Plan
 
Mikko Lohikoski, Strategy Coordinator, informed that the Action Plan for the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was updated recently after long consultations.
There are three main subjects in the Action Plan:
- Save the Sea
- Connect the Region
- Increase Prosperity
The Plan covers seventeen priority areas in different fields, like crime, culture, education, energy, health, safe, tourism, transport etc.
 
The Plan contains five horizontal actions:
- Involve – Strengthening multi-level governance including involving civil society, business and academia         
- Neighbours – To increase the co-operation with neighbouring countries to tackle joint challenges in the Baltic Sea region  
- Promo – Boosting joint promotion and regional identity building actions         
- Spatial Planning – Encouraging the use of Maritime and Land-based Spatial Planning in all Member States around the Baltic Sea and develop a common approach for cross-border cooperation        
- Sustainable development and bio-economy
 
Mikko Lohikoski stressed that the horizontal action Involve is especially important for organisations like UBC, because it involves also Norway and Russia for implementation. The Action Plan invites not only ministries, but also cities, universities, business, regions, civil society organisations, etc. UBC has built a way of functioning that is good for this kind of cooperation, which is quite unique in the BSR. UBC should be more involved in this Strategy. UBC Commission on Local Safety is active in the new Priority Area Secure – Protection from emergencies and accidents on land, and is planning a flagship project. If UBC gets more involved, it can also obtain some funding. There are no new financial instruments, but the existing ones, like e.g. European Social Fund, European Cohesion Fund, Life Program, are obliged to take in the account the priorities in the new funding period 2014-2020. UBC should get prepared for this especially in 2013.
 
- horizontal action Involve re multi-level governance led by Region Västerbotten
 
One of the five Horizontal Actions in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is “Involve - Strengthening multi-level governance including involving civil society, business and academia”.
This action is led by three partners:  the Regional Councils in Kalmar and Västerbotten, and the Baltic Sea NGO Network (with rotating chair, this year Norden Association in St.Petersburg, next year Finland).
 
Fredrik Gunnarsson, Manager of international affairs, Region of Västerbotten highlighted the main problems with the EU strategy and its implementation: too small presence of the local level in the last Action Plan, lack of participating municipalities in the projects, which means no dissemination of good practices, experiences among municipalities. The third problem is that there is no financial incentives for the local and regional stakeholders.
 
Mr Gunnarsson pinpointed some of the improvements made by the EU Commission, e.g. moving the responsibility to the National Focal Points to coordinate actions in each Priority Area, creation of the Ministerial Working Group, and more.  There are also new instruments of territorial cooperation, important for regional and local level: territorial instrumental toolbox and integrated territorial investment,  both for cooperation over boarders.
 
Mr Gunnarsson informed about actions – short term measures in the multilevel governance:
- Mapping of ”multi-level-visiblity” in the overall action plan, plans of the 17 priority areas and some flagship projects
- Dialogue – roadshow to meet the priority area coordinators
- Pan-Baltic dialogue with organisations like UBC, CPMR Baltic Sea Commission, BSSSC, BaltMet, CBSS and B7 to discuss how their work could be more integrated in the development and implementation of the EUSBSR priority areas.
- Development of MLG-methods
- Mainstreaming agendas
- Acting as a ”supportive expert-help desk” in the programming phase
The long term measures would be strengthening knowledge-based governance and preparing a system of showcases.
 
The Board thanked Mr Gunnarsson for his presentation and declared UBC readiness to cooperate in actions within horizontal area Involve.
 
5.            Activity reports from the UBC Commissions.
 
UBC Commissions on Culture, Education and Sport presented annual activity reports for 2012 as well as plans for 2013.
 
Main activities of above mentioned commissions in the reporting period:
 
5.1 Commission on Culture
 
Board meeting, 19-20 April 2012, Kolding
Board meeting, 24-25 September 2012, Gdańsk
Other Board meetings on Skype ending with an open seminar with a relevant topic
Annual meeting of the Commission, 10-11 December 2012, Riga, Cēsis
New vision for the Commission
Cultural Prize 2012
Library Exchange Program
 
Reported by Lone Leth Larsen, Chairperson of the Commission
 
5.2 Commission on Education
 
Youth week of entrepreneurship „How an active youngster becomes a young entrepreneur“, 26 -30 March 2012, Kärdla
Research „Youngsters – Young Entrepreneurs?“
“Youth Democracy project Life, Media and Participation- Youth in Baltic Sea Region!”
Erken Laboratory Research School 2012
Business Day, 3 October 2012, Kärdla
Conference “Notice Youth Work”, 4 October 2012, Kärdla
 
Reported by Reet Kokovkin, Chairperson of the Commission
 
5.3 Commission on Sport
 
Grant Competition 2012 “Challenge the water”
Update of contact persons list
Cooperation with UBC Commission on Youth Issues
Reported by Joanna Leman, Secretariat of the Commission
 
Commission on Health & Social Affairs provided written report.
 
The reports were followed by a discussion, Board members posed questions to the rapporteurs concerning the activities of the Commissions.
 
The Board thanked the Commissions for their work and encouraged them to carry on efforts for the benefit of member cities. The Commissions’ activity reports are attached to the minutes.
6.            Report on Gender Equality in UBC, signing by President Andersen and 1st Vice-President Rönnmark.
 
Linda Gustafsson, Umeå, informed that the main goal of the Commission on Gender Equality is to promote gender equality around the Baltic Sea. Two years after its creation, in 2009 the Commission prepared the first report on Women and Men in UBC. Now the Commission works on the update of the report, which will be ready for the UBC General Conference in Mariehamn, 1-4 October 2013.
 
Mr Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC and Ms Marie-Louise Rönmark, 1st Vice-President of UBC, Mayor of Umeå, signed the preface to the Report on Gender Equality in UBC. The report will show that there is a need to improve the status of women. The report will highlight the way the local authorities can promote gender equality by integrating a gender perspective into the development of services and infrastructure. The report is produced by the UBC Commission on Gender Equality, and financed by UBC, the City of Umeå and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.
 
7.            XII UBC General Conference, Mariehamn, 1-4 October 2013, “Investing in young people”. Report on preparations from Secretary General and Strategy Coordinator.
 
The XII General Conference of the Union of the Baltic Cities will be held on 1-4 October 2013 in Mariehamn, capital of the autonomous region of Åland, Finland. Some 100 mayors of Baltic Sea cities, senior representatives of governments, international organisations, businesses and other sectors in society will meet to discuss the recent development and future challenges of our region, and especially the prospects of youth in our region.
 
The UBC General Conference in Mariehamn will focus on difficult situation regarding the high level of youth unemployment in the Baltic Sea region. How to prevent and combat the youth unemployment and marginalization? How to develop an effective employment strategy?  And what is the role of cities and local authorities in this?
 
UBC realise that the youth plays an important role in the society we live in. UBC wants their voices and suggestions to be heard during the conference debates. Having this in mind we plan to invite 100 active young persons from all Baltic Sea countries and their cities to participate in the conference and its preparatory process. Young people will take part in the conference and will also hold they own seminars and activities in conjunction with the event.
 
Invited keynote speakers:
- Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland
- Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, President, Committee of the Regions
- Paweł Orłowski, Vice-Minister of Regional Development, Republic of Poland
- Walter Deffaa, Director General, DG Regional Policy, European Commission. Adviser to the Director-General, Michael Ralph will participate.
- Mona Sahlin, Chair of Anna Lindh Memory Foundation
- Uwe Polkaehn, President, Confederation of German Trade Unions DGB-Nord
- Jacob Wallenberg, Chairman, Investor AB, Finnish-Swedish Chamber of Commerce
- Nina Oding, Head of the Research Department of the Leontief Centre, St.Petersburg
- Saana Siekkinen, Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions – SAK, Development Director
- representative of Baltic Sea youth
 
Several UBC Mayors have been invited as speakers inter alia:
Dr Susanne Gaschke, Mayor of Kiel
Mr Andrius Kupčinskas, Mayor of Kaunas
Mr Ilmar Reepalu, Mayor of Malmö
Mr Roland Methling, Mayor of Rostock
 
The Board held discussion concerning the General Conference.
 
The Board stressed the conference programme must be lively and interesting for the participants. Mayors should be more involved. There should be rather panel debates between the speakers than long speeches. Young people should be considered as full participants, not a listeners, there should be serious dialogue. Member cities are welcome to propose good ideas to the secretariat concerning conference programme.
 
Edgar Vickström, Mayor of Mariehamn, underlined we should take into account ferry and flight schedules when deciding final time-table of the conference.
 
Hans Otto Lund, Kristiansand, suggested also to invite Director General of DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission.
 
Mikko Lohikoski informed that Prof. Alf Rehn, possibly together with a well known Finnish journalist or another co-host  had been considered to moderate the General Conference in Mariehamn, but the matter was still open.
 
The General Assembly will be held on the second day ie. on 3 October 2013. The following issues will be handled inter alia:
 
Report on UBC activities, President of UBC
Report on UBC Strategy
Amendments in the Statute
Auditor’s Report
Board of Audit Report
Absolving the Presidium, Board, Secretary
Membership Fees 2014-2015
Executive Board in the next period
President and Vice-Presidents in the next period
Board of Audit in the next period
Auditor in the next period
Venue of the XIII UBC General Conference in autumn 2015
 
The Board encouraged all member cities to take active part in the XII General Conference in Mariehamn. The cities are encouraged to submit candidatures to respective UBC organs.
 
The Board decided to support financially the youth participation in case Commission on Youth Issues application for funding from external sources is not successful or if the decision is delayed, thus making it possible to continue preparations without unnecessary delay.
 
8.            UBC development.
 
The Executive Board established the Task Force in June 2012 in Karlstad with aim to strengthen the performance of the organisation.  It had an open mandate to discuss all relevant issues. Member cities in each country were invited to nominate one city to represent them. The Task Force had been meeting four times and held in addition extensive consultations by e-mail correspondence.
 
Mikko Lohikoski, Chair of the Task Force, thanked all members of the TF and told, that the work had been most rewarding and constructive. He presented main conclusions / recommendations of the Task Force. He expressed the wish of the Task Force that the Executive Board will now devote serious attention to the Task Force report which is attached.
 
President Andersen proposed the TF report to be sent out to the member cities and commissions for comments.
 
Piotr Grzelak informed the cities of Gdańsk and Liepaja had few comments to the TF report and they will submit them during the consultation process.
 
Andres Franzen informed that several Swedish cities had prepared proposals aimed at strengthening the organisation. Jan Björinge, Umeå, informed that the city of Umeå had not been consulted concerning these proposals, which therefore could not be taken to represent the views of the Swedish member cities.
 
Decision:
The Board thanked the Task Force for comprehensive and  constructive work and decided that this report will serve as the basic document concerning UBC development work. It decided to send out the TF report to the member cities and commissions for comments to be returned by 31 May 2013. The next Board meeting in Kiel will discuss the TF report and received comments and make final proposal to the General Conference.
 
9.            Evaluation of the Commissions. Funding for 2013.
The Executive Board decided to adopt Commissions’ evaluation criteria at the meeting in Rakvere on 24 May 2012.
 
In Koszalin, 4 October 2012, the Board decided to approve the mechanism and time table of the evaluation. Accordingly the UBC Commissions have been invited to submit the requested information to the secretariat.
 
In addition, a survey had been made among the Member Cities about how they evaluate the importance and performance of various Commissions.
 
The amount of financial support to the Commissions in 2013 is to be based on the evaluation of these materials.
 
Commissions reports and applications as well as the results of the Member City survey are inserted at:
www.ubc.net/commissions,21,2052.html
 
 
Decisions:
The Board authorised the Presidium to decide on the final budget including Commissions' funding for 2013.
 
The Board authorised the Presidium to contact some Commissions to clarify their action plans.
 
The Board decided the Commissions are not allowed in the future to give away grants and prizes with the UBC money.
 
The Board decided that not more than 40% can be spent by the Commissions’ lead city(s) for: secretariat, remunerations (including projects), subcontractors, travel, mailing, office supplies, promotion materials. Any changes in the commission budget require President's approval.
 
The Board stressed that the Commissions which exceeded 40% threshold in 2012 shall not do it again.
 
10.          Report from Strategy Coordinator on UBC Strategy.
 
UBC Strategy Coordinator Mr Mikko Lohikoski noted, that the main strategy-related work during last period had been carried out in the framework of the Task Force on UBC development, which he had been chairing in the  capacity of Strategy Coordinator. The TF had discussed many key strategy-related issues, and the report had now been presented to the Executive Board for debate and decisions.
 
In addition, Mr Lohikoski informed that he and two other UBC representatives from Tartu and Kolding were going to meet the following week with Baltic Development Forum representatives in Copenhagen to discuss about the concept and preparation of a BSR Urban Forum on Smart City development, as decided earlier by the Executive Board.
 
Mr Lohikoski introduced the request from the Environment Commission to conduct a survey of member cities on sustainable development. Mr Lohikoski expressed an opinion that previous similar surveys had proved to be very valuable, and continuity would allow comparisons to be made. An application to allocate 10.000 eur for this purpose had been presented by the commission. In Mr Lohikoski´s view, the survey would be useful. However, he recommended that it would not be linked to a more general survey on member city attitudes towards UBC and its priorities and work, because the strategy process was underway and the organization was undergoing major changes. The proper time for such an overall survey mentioned in the UBC Strategy would come when changes have been carried out and there is some experience about how this will affect the work of UBC.
 
11.          Financial report 2012.
 
Secretary General presented the financial report for 2012. Mr Żaboklicki informed the income was mostly generated by the membership fees and the assets saved in 2011. The main expenditure were: the costs of the commissions, meetings including the Executive Board, services/maintenance, communication. Five annexes are attached to the report: membership fees, expenditure of UBC commissions, contributions to the secretariats, projects with external funding, cities’ contributions to the UBC events. The report is attached to the minutes.
 
The Board asked for explanation of exchange rate adjustment mechanism.
Secretary General explained exchange rate adjustment is only a question of book-keeping. It is not a real spending. It would be avoided if all transactions would be made in one currency.
 
Hans Otto Lund asked if there is a transparency in the accounts of the commissions and who is checking commissions’ spendings. Paweł Żaboklicki informed that Board of Audit is checking commissions’ financial reports and receipts.
 
The Board took note of the report.
 
12.          Budget for 2013.
 
Paweł Żaboklicki, Secretary General, presented the proposal of the UBC budget for 2013. The budget proposal is attached to the minutes.
Decision:
 
The Board authorised the Presidium to decide on the final budget including Commissions' funding for 2013. The Board stressed the capital saved in previous years should not be depleted this year and should be used carefully, as many issues such as implementation of marketing and communication strategy as well as preparation of projects and activities linked to the EU Baltic Sea strategy will cause costs.
 
13.          Latest conferences attended by UBC representatives.
 
UBC was represented at the following conferences:
 
- 97th Plenary session of the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, 8-10 October 2012 (Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC)
-  23rd Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, The voice of cities and regions in Europe, Strasbourg, 16-18 October 2012 (Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC)
- Seminar on Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, Brussels, 12 November 2012 (Marie-Louise Rönnmark, 1st Vice-President of UBC)
- Congress of Metropolis Management in the XXI century, Gdańsk, 26-27 November 2012 (Paweł Żaboklicki, UBC Secretary General )
- 98th Plenary session of the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, 29-30 November 2012 (Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC)
- 99th Plenary session of the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, 31 January-1 February 2013 (Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC)
 
The Board took note of the information. Reports from the conferences are attached to the
minutes.
 
14.          Any other business.
 
Ms Sylvia Gurova extended greeting from the authorities of the city of Kaliningrad. Ms Gurova admitted Kaliningrad was not very active recently but declared that Kaliningrad intends to be more active in UBC and offered to host a UBC meeting / conference. The Board welcomed declaration from Kaliningrad.
 
15.          Next 67th UBC Executive Board meeting, Kiel, 19-23 June 2013.
 
The Board received an invitation from the Mayor of Kiel Dr. Susanne Gaschke to hold the meeting in Kiel on 20 June 2013. The Board accepted the invitation and decided to hold the 67th meeting in Kiel on 20 June 2013.
 
All documents are available at:
http://www.ubc.net/documentation,76,2045.html
 
 
 
Per Bødker Andersen                                                                                  Paweł Żaboklicki
Chairperson                                                                                                     Secretary
 
 
Karin Wohlgemuth                                                                                       Jan Björinge
Adjuster                                                                                                            Adjuster