High Level Labour Ministries Meeting

High-Level Meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs took place on the 26th of August, during the 28th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference in Oslo, Norway.

As a continuation of the successful meeting of the ministers and high-ranking representatives of the labour ministries two years ago in Berlin, the representatives met again to discuss the follow-up and implementation of the Berlin Declaration, focusing on the future of work, demographic challenges and sustainable inclusive labour market in the Baltic Sea region. The representatives provided the vision and strategy for the future of working life on national and the Baltic Sea region’s level.


Ms. Ramona Petravica, Minister of Welfare of Latvia. Photo: The Storting
Amb. Maira Mora, Director General of CBSS. Photo: The Storting
Mr. Pyry Niemi, Swedish Parliament, BSPC rapporteur on labour issues. Photo: The Storting

Our Director General Ambassador Maira Mora and Pyry Niemi, BSPC rapporteur on labour issues, opened the meeting where representatives of the Ministries of Labour took a stand on the issues defined in Berlin Declaration, focusing on the future of work, demographic challenges and sustainable inclusive labour market in the Baltic Sea region. The representatives agreed that the Berlin Declaration was still very much relevant, especially when it comes to regional cooperation: even though there is no one fix for the whole region, exchanging national experiences can be beneficial in developing solutions.

Baltic Sea Region’s stakeholders (such as the CBSS, Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF), BSPC, European Union for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Policy Area Education) also shared current developments in the field of labour and employment. CBSS’ Baltic Sea Labour Forum presented our latest, European Social Fund financed Sustainable Working Life initiative, aiming to review current data and develop future forecasts to provide evidence-based policy guidelines.

The meeting was followed by the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), that also included a session on the future of work in the Baltic Sea Region.

The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference brought together about 200 parliamentarians from 27 parliaments and parliamentary organisation to promote cooperation between state and non-state institutions – especially with the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The conference serves as a forum for discussion and information exchange between parliaments and governments as well as other bodies and organisations at the international and inter-regional level.

See more photos from the events here.

Annual BSLF Roundtable 2019

BSLF Round table
BSLF Round Table Participants

On March 18-19, in Hamburg, Germany, the Annual Meeting of the Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF) took place. Employer organizations together with trade unions from the countries around the Baltic Sea, as well as representatives from the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), ministries and other stakeholders joined forces with the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) to discuss the most topical issues on sustainable working life in the Region.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the European Social Fund supported project – Sustainable Working Life – that is being newly launched for the benefit of all Baltic Sea countries and managed by the CBSS.

With this project, the Baltic Sea Labour Forum countries, together with the Max Planck Institute, aim to take specific and constructive steps towards improving conditions in the Baltic Sea Region to enable older persons to reap the benefits of, and contribute towards social and economic viability in the region through greater participation in the work force and through entrepreneurship.

Some of the reports presented at the round table included:

Johannes Schraps, Member of the German Bundestag, Päivi Hämäläinen of the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Work and Gender Equality and Olga Korchemkina of the Russian Ministry for Labour and Employment also contributed.

For more information, contact Daria Akhutina, Senior Policy Advisor at the Council of the Baltic Sea States:

Introducing the “Baltic Sea Labour Forum for Sustainable Working Life (BSLF-SWL)” Project

The CBSS was granted funds from the European Social Fund for the three-year project “Baltic Sea Labour Forum for Sustainable Working Life (BSLF-SWL)”

The overarching aim of the project is to improve working life conditions and life-long learning provisions, systems and policies for older persons in order to promote active ageing and employability.

The project will address three issues, crucial for the socio-economic development of the countries in the Baltic Sea Region –  the Demographic challenge, Active ageing and Life Long Learning (LLL). Underpinned by cutting edge research, demographic and labour market forecasts, the project will identify the issues as well as good practices and technological developments in the Baltic Sea Region. The practices will be evaluated, developed and innovated by Thematic Working Groups (TWG) and Knowledge Platforms from a “future work” and “qualifications needed” perspective. Of course, all of our Member States are different and we will be paying close attention to socio-economic and socio-cultural conditions. We are also fortunate to have two non-EU Member States (Russian Federation and Iceland) to broaden our perspective with additional inputs and contrasting views.

There will be 4 TWGs dealing with (1) Lifelong learning and knowledge transfer between generations/ mutual knowledge transfer between younger and elder professionals; (2) Working conditions/age management; (3) Job opportunities for ageing labour force, including Entrepreneurship; (4) Research and comprehensive Labour Market (LM)

The Thematic Working Groups will deliver:

  • Existing good practices and methods supporting a sustainable working life
  • Identified system/policy gaps to be approached
  • Incorporation of validated and screened good practices and methods
  • Developed new methods/models/tools/mechanisms
  • Policy recommendations

The main actions for the project process:

  • To compile facts and figures and to develop forecasts and research modalities on demographic, economic, labour market and technological change in the MSs concerned and in the macro region as a whole, better adapted to comparability to the issues at stake and to broader societal challenges. An upgraded picture of the gender based differences/inequalities as well as the discrimination of certain target groups in relation to active ageing and LLL is a crucial priority for this endeavor;
  • The improvement of policies, systems, methods and practices in the field of promotion of active ageing and a target group adapted and innovative LLL: the activities will be further defined and fine-tuned in the preparation phase, in close cooperation with the project partners and associates. The objectives, methods and outcomes/deliveries as well as the organizational structure and assignments for the transnational partners and associated partners/experts are presented in the proposal;
  • By developing and using the specific tools and mechanisms for the project work – the Flagships, Knowledge/Learning platforms and the TWGs – SWL will also contribute to awareness rising and skills development of the community of project/ESF actors and stakeholders in the BSR in relation to the EU funds and the macro regional strategies
  • CBSS/BSLF Coordination Group on Labour and Employment and with BSLF members (social partners), involved into Project, will provide direct access to decision-policy makers of BSR. It will allow to reach the immediate policy impact and contribute to the long-term holistic approach in strategic planning process in future
  • The established TWGs and their members will compile the Network of professionals for future joint actions in the field of active ageing and ageing labour force in BSR, which will also ensure the sustainability of the SWL Project’s outcomes

Current Partners: ESF’ Partner – State Employment Agency of Latvia. Representatives from all CBSS Member States are expected to be involved into implementation of the Project and its thematic working groups (TWGs)

CBSS Labour Ministers Meeting

High Level representatives of the Labour Ministries of the CBSS Member States met on the 15th of June 2017 in Berlin, Germany under the auspices of the Icelandic Presidency of the CBSS, at the venue of the City of Hamburg Representation.

The meeting was opened by Mr. Þorsteinn Víglundsson, Minister of Social Affairs and Equality of Iceland and was held as a part of the joint event with the Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF) Annual Round Table. As grounds for discussion, the Policy Recommendations’ paper on issues related to the labour market, based on proposals from BSLF Members, representing both trade unions and employer’s organisations in the Baltic Sea countries, Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), European Union Strategy for Baltic Sea Region (EUS BSR), Policy Area Education and participants from the Swedish Institute Baltic Leadership Program “Labour mobility”, was delivered to the ministries in advance.

The representatives defined the key areas of cooperation in the field of labour and employment  as follows:

Labour mobility: How to reduce brain drain? How can we “stimulate the brain circulation”?

Demographic challenges: How to handle and deal with senior policy and silver economy?

Knowledge supply: How can labour market forecasting, technological foresights and research help to tackle current challenges of the labour market?

Youth employment: How can we maximize opportunities for young individuals in the region? How do the labour markets and regions in Europe need to adapt to the youth’s needs?

Additionally, Bernd Hemingway, Deputy Director of the Council of the Baltic Sea Secretariat focused on migration issues related to the labour market, and highlight possibilities and challenges of the integration of migrants and people with special needs into the labour market.

Read the full adopted Declaration here.

For all presentations of the BSLF Roundtable, please visit the Download section.

See the CBSS Flickr for images from the event.

Baltic Leadership Programme

BLP in Gdansk, 30.11.2016A well-functioning skill supply is essential for the competitiveness of the Baltic Sea Region. Skill shortages are already a reality in several member states and the demographic trend is pointing towards an ever-increasing problem. The Baltic Leadership Programme (BLP) Labour Mobility aims at creating a meeting place for relevant actors to discuss opportunities and challenges related to mobile labour market in the Baltic Sea Region. On 30 November 2016, the first module of the programme started in Gdansk, Poland. The programme is a joint effort by the Swedish Institute, the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), the Norden Association, Policy Area Education and Horizontal Action ’Capacity’ within the European Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). BLP-Labour Mobility gives an important input to the further development of the Baltic Sea Labour Forum. BLP-Labour Mobility will be implemented in 2016/17 by starting its first module in Gdansk yesterday, on 30 November, and be finalised with a third module in June 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The programme gathers about 30 participants representing trade unions, employer organisations, state agencies and cross-border services. The result of the programme will be recommendations on how labour mobility can be supported, identifying and removing hindrances but also how the return of needed labour force can be supported, so called “brain circulation”. These recommendations will be ready to be presented at a Round Table in June 2017, involving the Ministers of Labour and Employment of the CBSS Member States. Some of the highlights from the first day were group discussions focusing on building a contextual map of the topic, and an inspiring presentation by Franz Thönnes (MP, former Parliamentary State Secretary, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the German Bundestag) on “Visions for the Baltic Sea”, accompanied by remarks from Anders Bergström (Strategist, Norden Association). This busy and fruitful day ended with a tour of and a theatre workshop at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk.

BSLF Annual Round Table 2015


The BSLF Annual Round Table meeting took place on 18 November 2015 in Gdansk, Poland. It was organised in the context of the planned EUSBSR Flagship project on mobility of labour (BSLFmobINIT) and back to back with the BASTUN meeting. Three main topics will be discussed:

A:“Hello Baltic”: Information Centre Network in the BSR

B: Youth Employment & vocational Education

C: Information on EUSBSR & EU funds supporting transnational cooperation in the region

You find the workshop program and more information below:

To see the pictures of the Roundtable, please go here.

BSLF Enlarged Steering Committee Meeting & BSLFmobINIT Midterm Evaluation

On 2 June, 2015, the members of the BSLF Enlarged Steering Committee gathered in Helsinki for a discussion on the ongoing and future activities of the BSLF framework. The meeting was opened by Jurek Mieczyslaw from Solidarnosc, Poland, followed by a welcome speech by the host of the meeting, Chairman of the STTK, Finland, Antti Palola. They key topic discussed was mobility of labour in the Baltic Sea Region, with each country representative presenting an overview of current labour issues in each of the member countries. The group also reviewed the BSLF terms of reference and agreed to work further on expanding BSLF membership across the region. Katariina Röbbelen-Voigt presented a status report on the EUSBSR seed-money project BSLFmobINIT. The aim of the project is to develop a BSLF-Flagship Project on Mobility of Labour in the framework of the EUSBSR. The work is currently focused on developing three work packages focusing on cross-border labour market information for employees and companies; prevention of undeclared work and the promotion of fair working conditions in the Baltic Sea Region; and vocational mobility, occupational orientation and school-business cooperation. The three work packages will be combined under a flagship consortium. On 3 June the BSLFmobINIT project group gathered in Helsinki for the projects Midterm Evaluation, carrying on the discussions of the Enlarged Steering Group meeting from the previous day, as well as continuing work on the three thematic work packages of the project. In three workshop groups the partners laid out thematic plans as well as potential funding sources for each work package. The project will continue with a workplan development meeting in Gdansk on 18 November 2015, held back-to-back with the BSLF Annual Round Table.

Joint Tripartite Conference of the Best Agers Lighthouses Projec and BSLF

Around about 120 participants came together in Riga from 16-17 September 2014 to discuss “Employment for the Future: How should the Baltic Sea Region respond to ageing workforces?”._MG_0041The experts addressed with their speeches both the macroeconomic and the organisational level. Dr. Jörg Peschner, Seconded National Expert at the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, hold a presentation about ageing workforce and its consequences for the European Union member states. He stressed that EU employment growth will turn negative already by 2030 therefore the EU policy shall promote activation policies and measures to accelerate productivity growth (e.g. by tapping unexploited resources such as women, young people, migrants, senior workers etc.). The diverse labour market potentials were also mentioned by Dr. Andrea Hammermann from Cologne Institute for Economic Research: “Labour market of the future is not only ageing and shrinking, it is also getting more diverse. We have to think about a labour market which will be a little bit more female, there will be more migrant workers, and therefore, there will be more heterogeneity in demands which both companies and employees have to think about in order to find flexible solutions”. Prof. Dr. Mirko Sporket, University of Applied Science in Münster (Germany), addressed the organizational level and introduced the concept of “demographic literacy” which shall help companies to gather and evaluate the crucial “demographic information” and to develop actions in order to overcome challenges such as labour shortages. _MG_0717The conference participants shared good practices of employers and trade unions and identified needs for further transnational cooperation. Nine exhibition stands offered information about practical age management experiences. The visitors had the chance to talk to company representatives and partners of the Best Agers Lighthouses project. The scientific and practical findings of the project fed into recommendations for Social Partners and Policy-Makers as well as for Employers. Read the full conference report here and download the presentations and recommendations:

BSLF Annual Round Table 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF) concluded its annual Round Table meeting in Helsinki on 1 November. The BSLF Round Table in Helsinki adopted an Action Plan on Cross Border Mobility. The main purpose of the Action Plan is to convey background information and analyses on cross border mobility; to encourage and support practical cooperation activities among the BSLF members; and to present recommendations to the governments of the Baltic Sea Region and the CBSS concerning cross-border mobility. The Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja received the Action Plan at the Round Table and welcomed the concrete co-operation plans of the BSLF: “the Baltic Sea Region has economic potential which we have not yet fully taken advantage of. When planning the ways to find new methods we have to take international competition and more globalized markets into account. These can bring entirely new challenges that we have to face. We should address these challenges through close cooperation and agreements between all the Social Partners.” The Round Table meeting highlighted the necessity of timely, accurate and comparable information on labour mobility. This is a basis both for practically useful statistics and for the development of strategies and actions.

The expert presentations are available under downloads.

BSLF Enlarged Steering Committee Meeting 2013

BSLF Enlarged Steering Committee Meeting, Stockholm 2013On 13 September, 2013, the members of the BSLF Enlarged Steering Committee met at the Secretariat of the Council of the Baltic Sea States in Stockholm for an overview of the BSLF activities and upcoming events. The meeting was chaired by Mikko Mäenpäe, President of the Finnish Confederation of Professionals (STTK), Chairman of the BSLF until 2014. Chair Mikko Mäenpäe welcomed the participants of the BSLF Enlarged Steering Committee with a short update on the current activities of the BSLF and a note on the possible engagement of BSLF in the framework of the Baltic Development Forum meeting and the CBSS summit in Turku, June 2014. On the discussion table was also the agenda for the BSLF Round Table meeting in Helsinki on 1 November, 2013, which will be hosted and chaired by Chair Mikko Mäenpää and will be focusing on the two priorities of mobility of labour and youth unemployment.