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 partner countries of the 3SI are the United States and Germany. The 3SI aims to improve dialogue and economic cooperation between EU countries on the north-south axis, primarily to develop the energy, transport and digital infrastructures of the region, thus contributing to increasing the unity, cohesion and security of the European Union. Cooperation with the United States that shares and supports the aims of the format is also important.
Estonia has begun preparations for the fifth 3SI summit and third Business Forum in Tallinn in October 2020 (see official website).
The Three Seas Initiative summit is held once a year on a presidential level. The 3SI format was conceived by the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and the President of Poland Andrzej Duda. The first Three Seas Initiative summit was held on 25 August 2016 as part of the Dubrovnik Forum 2016 in Croatia (read the joint statement (PDF) adopted at the summit). Poland hosted the second summit in 2017 (read the joint statement (PDF) adopted at the summit), and guests included the President of the United States Donald Trump.
In 2018, the summit was held in Romania (read the adopted joint declaration (PDF)), and it included the first 3SI 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 first 3SI Business Forum in Romania also saw the creation of a network of chambers of commerce and industry (initial members: Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Hungary), and the signing of a letter of intent to establish the Investment Fund of the Three Seas Initiative (signatories: Croatia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) to fund 3SI projects.
The fourth 3SI summit was held on 5 and 6 June 2019 in Slovenia (read the joint declaration (PDF)), attended by 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 summit, Poland’s development bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK) and Romania’s national EximBank officially announced the process of establishment of the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund. The 3SI Investment Fund was registered on 29 May 2019 in Luxembourg. The Fund aims to provide additional, mainly private funding for implementing major infrastructure projects in the region.
The second Business Forum of the 3SI was held during the 2019 summit in Slovenia, focusing on presenting the 3SI and its priority projects, including exchanging contacts in the public and private sectors for implementing them. The status report of the 3SI priority projects was also submitted to the Business Forum.
At the 2019 3SI summit in Slovenia, the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid announced that Estonia would host the fifth 3SI summit in 2020. Estonia has begun preparations for the fifth 3SI summit and third Business Forum in Tallinn in October 2020. The main topics of the summit include digital transformation and digital infrastructure (see website).
Estonia has participated in 3SI activities since its conception, as it is considered a priority cooperation format. Estonia supports the general objectives of the 3SI, and considers it important to also include the European Commission and cooperate with the United States. Estonia has submitted four projects to the 3SI priority projects list: in the energy sub-category under bilateral and national projects with international potential, it proposed the commissioning of the LNG terminal in Paldiski and the construction of the 500MW Estonian Pumped-Hydro Energy Storage (Estonian PHES); and in the transport sub-category under multilateral projects, it proposed the Via Baltica and Rail Baltica projects. Estonia supports the 3SI objective of investing in infrastructure projects that are important for the region and thereby increase the economic growth of the region. Estonia is considering options for contributing in the fund.