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International contacts

Multiple flags showing the emblems of the German Länder.
© Hamburgische Bürgerschaft/Michael Zapf

The Hamburg Bürgerschaft has maintained international contacts and friendships with foreign parliaments for many years.

Relations and cooperations

The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) is the parliamentary forum for the Baltic Sea Region. It is made up of members of national and regional parliaments from countries around the Baltic Sea that belong to the Council of the Baltic Sea States and of the Baltic Assembly, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Nordic Council. Its particular goals are strengthening the common identify of the Baltic Sea Region through close cooperation between national and regional parliaments and initiating and guiding political activities in the region. At the outset, environmental and maritime safety issues were at the forefront of the BSPC’s work. Today member states also discuss economic and socio-political issues as well as climate change, energy policy, integration and migration. In 2017 the Hamburg Parliament hosted the 26th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference.

The Parliamentary Forum for the Southern Baltic (PSO) is a joint forum of the Hamburg Parliament, the Land parliaments of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the regional representative bodies of the West-Pomeranian, Pomeranian and Warmian-Masurian voivodeships and Kaliningrad Oblast. The province of Skåne in southern Sweden and the Lithuanian district of Klaipėda are associate members.

The cooperation’s goals are strengthening links at the regional level between the existing bilateral partnerships and other parliamentary relationships and the joint development of the southern Baltic Sea Region. Topics relevant to all the regions taking part, such as renewable energy, tourism, digitalisation and integrated maritime policy, are discussed in a transnational way. In 2015 the Parliamentary Forum’s annual conference took place in Hamburg.

The Baltic Sea Forum was founded in 1992 as the Pro Baltica Forum and supports economic, political and cultural co-operation between the Baltic states. The forum is an international association which concerns itself with the interests of the Baltic Sea Region. It has a network of personal and corporate members and representatives in all the Baltic states.

Hamburg was a member of the Baltic Development Forum (BDF) from 2003. It was an independent non-profit network of high-level decision-makers from politics, business and academia. The Hamburg Parliament saw its primary role as supporting and encouraging the coherence of the Baltic Sea Region and sought to make a contribution to facilitating connections, promoting mutual understanding and laying the foundations for necessary political decision making. To this end, the Hamburg Parliament contributed its own contacts and experience with other regions, cities and institutions around the world. The Baltic Development Forum was wound up on 31 July 2018, since its tasks and goals – facilitating and supporting new partnerships and promoting the Baltic Sea Region as an integrated, prosperous and internationally competitive economic region – had been taken on by other bodies.

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) is an advisory body set up to establish direct links between the bodies of the European Union and the European regions. The CoR comprises 317 members appointed for four years by the EU Council on the recommendation of the EU member states. Members are elected representatives from the municipalities and regions in the member states. Committee members are not bound by any instructions and carry out their duties independently in the general interest. The German federal states (Länder), regional authorities (Landkreise), and local municipal and rural authorities nominate 24 members between them.  Like committee members from other EU member states, they ensure that EU policies are communicated directly to the regions. The CoR is consulted on many issues by the EU Council and the European Commission. It can also be consulted by the European Parliament. This is the case, for example, for support measures in the education, culture, employment or health spheres. The Committee makes it possible for the experience and interests of the regions to contribute directly to the European decision-making process.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is an institution of the Council of Europe. Its 648 members (local councillors, mayors and regional elected representatives) represent 200,000 local and regional authorities in 47 European states. The Congress is the voice of the local authorities and regions in the Council of Europe and has two chambers, the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions. It pursues goals such as safeguarding human rights, upholding the rule of law and developing democracy in member states. The Congress publishes recommendations and resolutions on matters of regional and municipal policy which it submits to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Observing elections and compiling monitoring reports on the development of local and regional democracy in the member states are among the Congress’s important tools. The 1985 European Charter of Local Self-Government forms the basis for the work of the Congress.