On 7th and 8th of May, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation hosted a conference that brought together experts and policymakers from the entire Baltic Sea Region. In three sessions they discussed possibilities of and barriers to innovations that make the region a stronghold of sustainable economies and tourism.
While the first session was concerned with the chances and risks of a digitalised labour market and in relation to that the necessity of life-long learning, the second session dealt with the challenges the Nordic and Baltic countries face in the wake of rising labour migration to and from the region. The integration of refugees in particular, is a challenge the region has yet to master. The participants agreed that with growing welfare, immigration is growing as well. However, since it still takes a lot of time for migrants to enter the labour market, more thought-through immigration policies are going to be necessary.
The third and last session consisted of a panel discussion with members of parliament from Germany, Latvia, and Iceland. The participants discussed political preconditions for a sustainable future working life in the Baltic Sea Region and the opportunities for the region itself. Johannes Schraps (Member of Parliament, Germany) argued that a common European approach must be strengthened and implemented. According to Igors Pimenovs (Member of Parliament, Latvia), Latvia must ensure a more active fiscal policy and an overall quicker development of the economy. The representative from Iceland, Hrannar Arnarsson (General Secretary, Social Democrats in the Nordic Council), argued that the overall income should be divided in a better way in order to generate more equality and digitalisation might be a useful asset to do so.