The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) was established in 1991 as a forum for political dialogue among parliamentarians from 11 national parliaments, 11 regional parliaments and 5 interparliamentary organisations around the Baltic Sea. The BSPC acts as a bridge between the parliaments in the EU and non-EU countries of the Baltic Sea region. Stakeholder and expert hearings and the dissemination of best practices identified in working groups' reports play an essential role in promoting ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development and in striving to strengthen the profile and significance of the Baltic Sea region in Europe. The BSPC is also a catalyst for intergovernmental work in the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), which is coordinated by the Unit for Regional Cooperation at the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference has a revolving Presidency, which begins and ends with the annual Baltic Sea Conference. This is the interparliamentary organisation's highest decision-making body. The BSPC prepares a final document containing recommendations for the governments in the region in the form of a resolution.
The Finnish Delegation to the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference includes five members and five alternates.
The BSPC strives to achieve open, practical and future-oriented cooperation among its members. It strives to create new contacts and take advantage of synergies in decision-making. Since the 2000s work has mainly concentrated on the following areas: combatting eutrophication, promoting safe shipping and energy cooperation, dealing with the effects of climate change, green growth and energy efficiency, maritime policy, civil society, employment and social welfare, preventing human trafficking, and supporting innovation in social and health care. Promoting regional cooperation in the fields of culture, youth and science has traditionally played an important role.
The roots of modern cooperation in the Baltic Sea region can be traced back to Finland. At the beginning of the 1990s Kalevi Sorsa, who was Speaker at that time, called for parliamentary cooperation among the states around the Baltic Sea. The first Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference took place in Helsinki in 1991. The participants called on their governments to establish an intergovernmental body to strengthen cooperation. Early conferences dealt mainly with the shift to a market economy following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the region's political future. Quite soon, however, protecting the Baltic Sea's vulnerable environment became a key priority.
Nowadays the BSPC is a highly networked international actor that cooperates closely with the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM), the EU, the Nordic Council, the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being, the Baltic Assembly, the Baltic Sea Cooperation Forum, the Baltic Development Forum and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, among others.
Cooperation in the BSPC is based largely on the Rules of Procedure that were adopted by the Conference in 1999. These have subsequently been supplemented and updated several times. The Rules of Procedure govern the way in which the Conference works.
11 national legislative bodies in the Baltic Sea Region: the parliaments of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, the Federal Republic of Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden and the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
11 sub-national legislative bodies: Åland, the Free and Hanse City of Bremen, the Faeroe Islands, the Free and Hanse City of Hamburg, Greenland, the Kalingrad Region, the Republic of Karelia, the Leningrad Region, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein and the City of Saint Petersburg.
5 supranational assemblies: the Baltic Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Nordic Council and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
The BSPC Secretariat is located in Schwerin, in the Regional Parliament (Landtag) of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The Secretariat maintains the organisation's website (www.bspc.net). In addition each national delegation has its own secretariat. The Finnish delegation's secretariat is part of Parliament's International Department.