The Three Seas Initiative (3SI) is a regular cooperation format that brings together 12 European Union member states between the Adriatic Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea: Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The partners of the 3SI are the United States, Germany and the European Commission. The initiative is designed to promote cooperation in order to contribute to economic growth and energy security, as well as to boost cohesion and unity in Europe.
The Three Seas Initiative is considered a priority cooperation platform for Estonian foreign policy. In 2020 Estonia was the coordinator of the Three Seas Initiative and hosted the fifth Three Seas Summit on 19 October 2020, and the first Three Seas Foreign Ministers' Meeting on 30 June 2020. In addition, Estonia has joined the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund.
The Three Seas Initiative was born out of a shared interest in developing the transport, energy and digital connections on the European Union’s north-south axis to increase the economic growth and resilience of the region.
- Economic growth. The main aim of the overall initiative is to boost economic growth and well-being in the region. Increased activity in trade and the provision of services within the region and with neighbouring countries creates such opportunities and makes Europe, as a whole, more competitive in global terms.
- Greater interest among investors. In the context of the European Union, the countries in the Three Seas Initiative have stood out for many years for their above-average rates of economic growth, and as such, they offer investors potentially higher rates of return. By working together and pursuing similar policies, these countries will make the region more attractive on the global financial market.
- Energy security. Energy is not only an economic issue; it has also become a strategic and security concern. A cohesive, well-functioning energy market and the freedom to choose between suppliers will increase open competition, ensure an improved supply for the region, and boost energy security.
- Geopolitics. Strong economic development across the board in Europe, including the Three Seas region, will help to defend current geopolitical interests more effectively, while making a stand against interests that do not align with those of the region.
- Smart connectivity. Where new investments are concerned, the aim is to make the most of the region’s experience and potential for implementing digital solutions. This goes beyond the development of a separate digital infrastructure, and encompasses the creation of smart, modern solutions for data exchange and a more efficient use of information.
- Achieving climate goals. A common market based on an effective and sufficient infrastructure will help the region move towards lower carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality.
The 3SI format was conceived by the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and the President of Poland Andrzej Duda in 2015 during the United Nations General Assembly. The idea for the initiative was enivisoned by the U.S. thik-tank Atlantic Council in a report titled "Completing Europe", which brought attention to the investment gap in Central and Eastern Europe.
The first Three Seas Summit was held in 2016 in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The Summit initiated annual Three Seas Summits on a presidential level.
Poland hosted the second summit in 2017, and guests included the President of the United States Donald Trump, who reaffirmed the United States' strong support for the initiative and its objectives.
In 2018, the summit was held in Bucharest, Romania, and it included the first Three Seas Business Forum. At the business forum, an agreement was reached on the 3SI’s Priority Interconnection Projects – this list includes a total of 48 projects in two categories (multilateral projects and bilateral and national projects with international potential) in three sub-categories (digital, energy and transport).
The fourth 3S summit was held in 2019 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, attended by the presidents of 9 countries, the Secretary of Energy of the United States Rick Perry, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and the President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier. At the 2019 Three Seas Summit in Slovenia, the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid announced that Estonia would host the fifth Three Seas Summit in 2020. The progress report of the 3SI priority projects was also introduced in Ljubljana.
Read the joint declarations adopted at past summits:
The Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund provides economic support to the political initiative. The main objective of the Three Seas is to develop the region's infrastructure, which requires large investments. The Fund was created to support the practical implementation of ambitious infrastructure projects.
A letter of intent to establish the Investment Fund of the Three Seas Initiative was signed at the 2018 Summit in Bucharest (signatories: Croatia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia). The Fund was registered on 29 May, 2019, in Luxembourg. Its creators were Poland’s development bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK) and Romania’s national EximBank, who were also the first investors.
On 16 April, 2020, Estonia became the third country to join the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund, contributing €20 million. Joining the Fund will provide Estonian companies with additional opportunities for raising capital in the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Adriatic Sea region. Estonia could have potential projects in all the focus sectors of the fund. On a wider perspective, the Fund will create more possibilities to fund ambitious infrastructure projects in the energy, transport and digital sectors in the whole region of Central and Eastern Europe.
Poland and Romania are the first to have contributed to the fund with a total of more than €500 million. State Secratary of the United States Mike Pompeo has indicated that the United States, through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, has committed to investing up to $1 billion toward Three Seas Initiative energy projects. While countries are participating as investors, the fund makes decisions independently and according to economic considerations. The fund is financing profitable projects only and no non-refundable grants are issued.
The Three Seas cooperation is based on the list of priority infrastructure projects of the region, adopted at the 2018 summit in Romania. A total of 48 priority projects are on the list. At the summit in Tallinn, we will present a new interactive progress report of the priority projects to provide everyone with a convenient overview of the status of projects.
Estonia has submitted the following priority projects:
Estonia also prioritises the synchronisation of Baltic power systems with continental Europe.