Editor's note

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Friday, 10.04.2020, 06:56

“Smart growth” and wellbeing: challenges for the Baltics

Eugene Eteris, BC International Editor, Copenhagen, 19.02.2020.Print version

The EU’s “smart growth” concept is generally about economy; the latter is, actually, about peoples’ wellbeing. This “triangle” is to be implemented in the Baltic States through commonly vital and nationally specific approaches. In this regard, the Benelux states provide a good example to emulate.

Since 2011, the EU states are obliged to introduce in their national planning the so-called “smart specialisation strategies”, often called by the abbreviation - 3S. Important thing is that in the Baltic States the 3S approaches are having both some common aspects and, evidently, some quite specific national ones.

As soon as the 3S has become a must for the Baltic States, there are good reasons to believe that these common aspects (like pollution prevention, sustainability and digital society, to name a few) would provide for closer cooperation frameworks. My personal opinion is that the title of our magazine –“the Baltic Course- can be used as a general guideline in such cooperation among the three countries.

There is a wonderful example of three-state’ cooperation in Europe, i.e. Benelux, which started as a customs convention among Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg signed in September 1944. In October 1949, these three countries adopted a preliminary Benelux union treaty followed by the Benelux Economic Union Treaty (finally signed in February 1958), in which they declared to achieve the free movement of people, goods, capital and services as well as to pursue a coordinated policy in economic, financial and social matters; the Treaty entered into force in 1960. Thus these countries successfully celebrated the 60th anniversary of Benelux cooperation, which a good example to emulate for the Baltic States.

More in: https://www.netherlandsworldwide.nl/latest/news/2018/10/19/benelux-seminar-60-years-of-cooperation

 The achievements are obvious: Benelux’ governments communicate digitally with their citizens for more than 60 % and governments communicate digitally with companies for more than 90 per cent. Source: https://www.benelux.int/files/4414/9621/5736/benelux_onepage_EN.pdf  


Besides, Latvian researchers have already more than twenty years ago mentioned the positive example of Benelux cooperation for the Baltic States.

See e.g. Lieģis I. The Benelux Countries: A Model of Cooperation for the Baltic States/Benilukss – sadarbības paraugs Baltijas valstīm/. - Riga: Latvian Institute of International Affairs, 1997. - 82 p.


On the European “smart specialisation”

The concept of “smart specialisation” emerged after the global financial crisis that has had dramatic consequences for European and the Baltic States too. In three 3S denominations, the “smart” growth means that the EU states have to explore mainly innovative approaches to development based on the outcomes and perspectives of the 4th technological revolution.

More in: https://www.weforum.org/focus/fourth-industrial-revolution

Another “S”- specialisation – is about the states and regions’ optimal capacities in using available resources (natural, human, etc.) in achieving competitive advantages in Europe and globally.

Then, finally, the “strategic” aspect in growth means defining the best perspective vision for any state/region in the long-term perspective.

It is important to note that a uniting factor in 3S is a strategic economic growth in any state shall be achieved –generally - through support from science, research and innovation.

More in: Sparitis O. and Eteris E. Modern European science policy: challenges and opportunities for Latvian perspective growth. - SIA Medicinas Publish. 2019. – 124 pp.

On the Baltic States’ 3S priorities

During last five years, the three Baltic States have seen some common and specific approaches to “smart specializations”. For example, Estonian 3S approach includes: e-health; bio-technology (incl. healthy food, medicine, diagnostics, therapy and bio-banking); ICT industry and robotics; as well as other ICT’s application (incl. cybersecurity, robotics, e-governance and “big data”); materials technology, and rational use of natural resources.

However, the Latvian 3S approach seems rather different concentrating on: knowledge intensive bio-economy; biomedicine and medical technologies; smart materials, technology and engineering; advanced ICT; and smart energy;

Finally, 3S in Lithuania has been slightly different too, including: agricultural innovations and food technologies; sustainable energy; new materials, production processes and technologies; health- and bio-technologies; transport, logistics and ICT; inclusive and creative society.       

 More on 3S composition in the EU’s sub-regional integration in: Eteris E. EU’s macro-regional cooperation: smart specialisation approach. In:   




Taking into consideration the EU’s strategic agenda (mainly, the “green deal” and digital economy), the 3S-concept is supposed to drive the states’ growth pattern along “smart specialisation” regarding their own resource/priorities and competition’s challenges.

However, specialization’s trends in the BSR states do not seem to create “national growth niches” with one-two-three major development directions; examples in some Nordic/Baltic States have shown that the specific diversification is rather broad!

On the contrary, there are numerous overlapping and integrated 3S spheres providing for closer cooperation among the countries in BSR. These factors show that it is high time for a more radical political decision towards “common 3S dimension” among the Baltic States, where innovations occupy leading positions.    


General links: = Commission’s website on 3S platform: https://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/s3-platform; = More on the EUSBSR in: https://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/s3-in-baltic-sea-region  




Search site