Logo of the BSPC © BSPC
Parliamentary cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region dates back to 1991 when the then Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, Mr Kalevi Sorsa, hosted the first Parliamentary Conference on the Baltic Sea. Subsequent conferences were held in Oslo in 1992 and Warsaw in 1994. Since then, parliamentary conferences in the Baltic Sea Region have taken place on an annual basis. At the Lübeck Conference in 1998, it was decided that parliamentary cooperation should be strengthened through the establishment of more formal structures. Rules of Procedure and a new name - the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) - were therefore adopted in 1999. The BSPC's aim is to strengthen the common identity of the Baltic Sea Region by means of close cooperation between national and regional parliaments, initiate and guide political activities in the Baltic Sea Region, promote cooperation, and act as a forum for debate and exchange of information between parliaments and other bodies and organizations on the international and interregional level.
The role of the Standing Committee - the permanent political body of the conference - is to make the presence of parliamentary cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region felt beyond the annual conference. The programme and agenda of the conference are decided by the Standing Committee in consultation with the host parliament. The result of the deliberations is documented in a resolution approved by the conference. The Standing Committee performs an executive function in monitoring the implementation of the final resolutions and cultivating contacts to other major international players in the region. The BSPC Secretariat is located in the Secretariat of the Nordic Council in Copenhagen.
Each member Parliament is allocated four to five seats in the conference. The delegation of the German Bundestag is headed in the 17th electoral term by Franz Thönnes (Social Democrat). The German states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Hamburg and Bremen also send delegations to the BSPC.