North-West Russia’ participation in collaboration in the field of the Spatial Planning in the Baltic Sea Region.


A short essay, prepared by the Head of Research Department of ICESR “Leontief Center” Mrs. Oding N.Yu., resulting the Round-table in the framework of meeting of  the North-West Russian regions with VASAB representatives

(June 21st, 2002, St. Petersburg).


The purpose is to discuss the main problems of North-West Russia’ participation in the collaboration in the field of the Spatial Planning in the Baltic Sea Region. The content of discussion had been the review of regions’ participation in collaborating with the spatial development projects, as well as the estimation of gained experience of the regions and determination the perspectives for further cooperation.


At present the Baltic Sea Region does unify such Western-European countries, the most stabled in economic and social terms, as Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, as well as Russia, who has been sharing the direct border with the European Union only in the Baltic Sea Region, the Baltic States and Poland, who are willing to join the European community, but not possessing the requisite economic and social features; in particular, the spatial infrastructure is not developed enough.


Recent changes, in many respects promoted this region’ role in Europe to grow and caused the necessity of more intensive research of its problems in the sustainable spatial development, actively implementing, first of all, by the EU, who developed the common strategy of Baltic Sea Region development VASAB 2010 and VASAB 2010+.


In the framework of this conception, serious attention is paid to the issues of Baltic Sea States’ cooperation in the field of the common spatial planning strategy of the regional development. The main goal of such cooperation is to facilitate the regional sustainable development and providing the territorial integration of the states.


At present the cooperation’ process in the BSR is getting energized. It’s related to the activities, in particular, such as “Northern Dimension” EU. Yet the meeting participants had marked by June 21st, that “Northern Dimension” is still not embodied chance for real cooperation: nothing new appeared in the  fields, (energy, transport), determined by the EU, as the priority ones

The continuing of the present practice may cause the strengthening, well - observed at the moment, of the Baltic Sea Region’ division into the active West and passive East sides. The current process may strengthen in future due to EU enlargement. On the other hand, (as marked by CBSS), EU enlargement may provide some perspectives for the territories, situated along the future external borders of EU in the BSR, under condition, that the Russian regions know how to use this chance.

For “Northern Dimension” could justify expected hopes and aims, the European Union in collaboration with Russia and other partners have to resolve many issues, to step aside from ritual phrases, to become aware of actual state of affairs and to come to a determination in practice, but not just on paper.

In particular, ten-year experience of cross-border cooperation between the Republic of Karelia and the bordering areas of Eastern Finland, two-year experience of realization such a project as EUROREGION Karelia have convinced of a fact, that project content of strategy in “Northern Dimension” may become better off and more attractive for investors, if there is a success to overcome outdated stereotypes about the state borders like separating lines.

Leningrad oblast has possessed the same experience.  It is  important to understand that including sub-regional potential, especially of cross-border areas, into “Northern Dimension” by the purposeful picking up of small and medium size infrastructure, economic, nature-preserved, educational and cultural joint projects will signify a transition to sustainable development and risk diminishing. Then, ultimately, the entire North Europe will be the gainer.

The evaluation of “Northern Dimension” realization and perspectives of further development was generalized in the book “Russia in “Northern Dimension”, written by V.A. Shljamin and presented by the author to participants.

In the very beginning of the meeting it was accented, that EU is looking forward to Russian initiatives, whereas “a new approach on dialogue base” lies ahead.

The firm belief is that one of important directions of forward movement for the North-West Russia should become the system enlargement of the spatial planning’ problems publicity. The most essential is to make these problems perfectly clear for any interested persons; to insert the regular monitoring of the state of affairs, decisions and results of its embodying, take the general public’ attention, and the spatial planning and business’ professionals, to make the subject of active discussion of the goals, tasks, instruments of the spatial planning. The European interest to the spatial problems of Russia may be both the practical and methodological: the new specific ground will force the both theoretical and applied instruments to improve.

The VASAB representatives (Mr. Jacek Zaucha) highlighted the main goal and methods of the spatial planning, as well as the actual state of project applications (for funding under the European program INTERREG III B) with Russian participation (Ms. Marta Plichta), that has testified the mutual interest for continuing the cooperation: 11 applications with Russian participation, 6 of them applied to TACIS for co-financing.

The regional representatives were informed about the co-financing possibilities in TACIS CBC within the new TACIS regalement in Russia

Lately, a diversity of large-scale international projects in Russian North-West was worked out under the aegis of European Union.

«Development zone – Southern Finland – St. Petersburg (Karelian Isthmus)» (1997), realized within the large-scale project “Development of regional structure of cross-border areas of Russia and Finland”. A common general plan was created, a list of actual projects from regional structure and economic development’ point of view was worked out.

«Joint project Å-18» (2001), aimed to provide the complex development for the international transport arterial road Å-18 Oslo – Stockholm – Helsinki – St. Petersburg due to developing the methods of combination the functioning transport arterial road and the sustainable ecological, social and economic progress, that supports the balanced regional structure. 

«The spatial planning of Route Å-18 effect zone Torfyanovka –Vyborg sector» (2001) – a pilot Russian project of «Joint Project Å-18». The specific suggestions on the spatial development of the areas, along the first Russian sector of Route E18, were given. The project has been appealed to be the model project for the route E18 along the entire Russia.

«Changes in Vyborg town -planning structure due to transport bypass- building on route E-18 (2000).   The problems had been revealed in the town –planning. They may occur during the bypass - building, hence the methodology of problem resolving was prepared. It may be applied for other cities, located on the large international transport routes.      

«Corridor of development Central North – St. Petersburg» (2000).  The main aim is the contact and cooperation’ development taking into consideration the strategic interests in different types of activity within the corridor’ territory, which stretches from Trondheim (Norway), via Sweden, Finland to Leningrad oblast and St. Petersburg.

«Synergy enhance. An unified strategic policy for St. Petersburg  and Leningrad oblast in the context of North-West Russia region» (2000). TACIS project: a significant attention is concentrated on issues of the sustainable spatial planning of the region, taking proper account of interests both St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast.

In conformity with North-West Russia, the specific of the spatial development’ problems are the following:

  • Defects of post-social allocation («allocation of productive forces»), without specific social – economic basement at present; city areas, built during the socialism period are monotonous, become antiquated morally and physically, roads are under repair and running. 

  • The essential orientation of Macroregion’  economy toward the rough, extractive industries, what has concerned with appropriate human and technical potentials, and make a transition to the post-industrial phase of the development very difficult.

  • Low (and reducing) density of population which threatens some territories with problem of valuable future.

  • Prevalent public property for real estate – even in St. Petersburg more than 90% of land and buildings are national or municipal properties.

  • The strongest, long ago forgotten by European countries, contrasts between the regions’ economies and living level of the population.

  • Negative ecological conditions, especially in big cities, which still – comparing the western analogues – are overloaded with industries and auto transport, not corresponding to the world ecological standards.

“The Primary Directions of North-West Strategy”, recently published, consider the North-West development as an unified economic space (by some meaning – for renewal the unity, which was in existence in Soviet time). It should be the organic elemental part of the unified economic space of Russia. Taking up the ways of integration of the scientific-technical and industrial potentials of the Russian Federation’ subjects (North-West), establishing the stable local markets, realization the mutually beneficial interregional projects, which are able to give not just plain combination of resources, but a new quality of its use due to multiplied effect. 


Hence, emphasize in the project is lied on establishment of economic, social, steering mechanisms, which allow to integrate the resources of regions themselves. The significant meaning of the human potential for area’ development and the aiming at innovative technologies is underlined.  The project was approved preliminarily by the regional authorities and now is at the stage of co-ordination. 

Generalizing the cooperation’ experience between Russia and EU, regional representatives assigned new conditions and challenges for the North-West for the coming period:


  • North-West Russia Region is just political but not economical entity in Russia. The real economic integration is the case of coming future, with making good use of possibilities, offered by INTERREG III B.

  • Disparity in regional development, different scope of involvement in INTERREG, lack of initiatives from the both sides.

  • Danger to obtain an active Western and passive Eastern parts of the Baltic space

  • EU enlargement will provide the opportunities for territories along the future of the EU.

  • Need for North-West regions in cooperation was formed. It should be actualized at this time.

  • INTERREG III B is a new instrument for the cooperation.

  • Need for vivid dialogue on the basis of new ideas and priorities

  • Succeed promotion of "Northern Dimension" is only possible while making good use of sub-regional and cross-border potential.


II   The estimation of in-practice cooperation.

North-West regions enter the new phase of cooperation in the spatial planning field, possessing the gained experience and preconditions for active participation of the North-West regions in INTERREG III B projects. However, the Russian participation in INTERREG for the past years can hardly be assigned as satisfactory.

Among 45 INTERREG II C projects the Russian regions have participated in 15, mostly, mainly due to the funding support of EU partners (covering the Russian participation by Interreg funding is not possible). The Russian partners succeeded in contributing, non-significant comparing to the common budgets of proper projects, on the only three INTERREG II C projects.

The previous experience has been considered and generalized in the presentations of the regions’ representatives. (Attachment). The following projects were most successful: «BALTIC PALETTE», where the sustainable spatial development’ problems of the largest 5 megapolises of the Baltic Sea Region (Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Riga) were considered, USUN, that created informational and methodical base for involvement the small and medium size towns in cooperation. The next initiative of INTERREG III is pointed to strengthen the economic and social co-ordination in the EU by the development of cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation and the balanced development of the European territory. Due to this, the understanding and estimation of gained experience and perspectives of North-West regions’ participation in co-operational projects in the spatial planning field are required. The valuable dialogue is to be only founded on the previous experience and priority’ elaboration of regional development.

St. Petersburg took part (under PHARE/TACIS SPF support) in the following projects: USUN, BALTIC PALETTE, MATROS. As a result of participation of the local experts in these projects, an unique experience of collaboration in the spatial planning issues was obtained, the network of expert organizations was established, the States and Peoples of the BSR Community was informed about the progress and problems of the regional development as for now. Besides, the actual requirements of current development and possible directions of further collaboration were revealed.

Pskovskaya oblast has been showing the interest in the cross-border co-operation, produced the project EUROREGIONS, aimed to provide the sustainable and balanced development within the cross-border territories of Estonia, Latvia and Russia (Pskovskaya oblast) by the uniting of the energies and coordination of activity of the regional officials and institutions of local governing.

Arkhangelsk oblast, high appreciating the experience within the framework of Barentz cooperation, designated the priorities for further collaboration, including the energy, communications, ecology, culture, tourism and preservation of natural and cultural heritages. 

Novgorod oblast, has clearly recognized, in the previous period, the priorities in the field of tourism development, as well as small business, logistics, communications, is now highly involved in Interreg IIIA and Interreg IIIB cooperation.

Vologodskaya oblast intends to use the possibilities, offered at a new stage of cooperation in cultural field, high-protected territories, tourism and communications development.

Leningrad oblast marked particularly the importance of development in the field of tourism, culture, small business, the rural areas, small and medium size cities.

The experience of Republic of Karelia, that took part in 60 projects and received the positive stimulus for further participation, was especially marked and evaluated.

The project ideas, presented by Karelia, in many respects, have come as a continuation and development of the previous, realized projects, lying in the regional development’ course. 

Having generalized the experience of joint activity in the Spatial Planning projects, North-West Russia regions determined the actual problems of providing republics, areas and cities of Russia within the Baltic Sea’ and Barents Sea’ Regions with a sustainable spatial planning at a new stage of international cooperation.

The following may be referred to these problems:

  • Lack of information on problems of the Spatial Planning, including the information îï international experience in existence. It leads to lack of clear view, throughout the population, including representatives of all level-authorities, of goals, tasks and methods of the sustainable development.

  • Lack of infrastructure and mechanism of managing the sustainable development of the Baltic region’ territories, mainly, in Leningrad oblast and St. Petersburg, that makes the cooperation with other Baltic Region states in the field of the unified spatial strategy of regional development of the present part of Europe.

  • Lack of funds (lately, on the Russian part) for elaboration and realization of the projects of sustainable spatial development. It cuts very largely the possibility of real Russian interests in the workable international projects. An underestimation of the meaning of these projects by regional and federal bodies may lead to some severe mistakes while choosing the strategic directions of territorial and built-up areas’ development.

  • Lack of coordination of the international programs and funds’ work, financing the projects of the spatial development, in particular, Interreg II C, Phare, Tacis, Ecos- Uverture, etc.

  • Lack of coordination between various international projects, running within the Baltic Region’ territory, mainly, within the Russian territory.

The primary positive result of the previous stage of cooperation for all regions  is the launching of real important movement in this direction:


  • Participating of specific regions in the projects, almost all Russian regions produced their strategic documents.

  • The revealed priorities of the Spatial Development of the regions underlie in the course of conceptions and priorities for 6 VASAB key topics, in particular: strategic development, natural and cultural areas, coastal territories, transport connections, rural areas, ecology.

  • Besides, need for coordination of efforts of the North-West regions assumed the organizational appearance: the Russian National Sub-Committee Interreg III B (RNSC Interreg III B) was established in 2001.

In RNSC Interreg III B there are politicians and high-level authorities, responsible for the spatial planning  and regional development of North-West Russia. The main goal of RNSC is to discuss the possibilities of realization of these strategic documents by means of transnational cooperation in the BSR. This Committee is engaged in the discussion of Russian interests and priorities, concerning the different project claims of INTERREG III B.

The RNSC work allowed revealing the top-priority needs of North- West regions; the providing with them may become a part of international cooperation. In particular:


  • Need for acquisition in modern methods of planning and program making for those, who are responsible for the regional development,

  • Need for the most important pan-Baltic strategic documents and conceptions studies, meet specialists in the spatial field from other Baltic Sea regions to percept their experience,

  • Need for training in the course of strategic documents’ embodying, apprehension and development of project idea to a stage of realization,

  • RNSC INTERREG III B needs help in form strengthening the institutional potential of regional and local authorities of North-West Russia concerning participation in the joint projects of the BSR

The further activity of Russian National Sub-Committee is conditioned on development of East-West Forum project, which will constantly stimulate and improve the process of the North-West regions’ involvement in cooperation with projects of the Spatial Planning in the BSR.