The third summit of the Three Seas Initiative was held in Bucharest, Romania on the 17th and 18th of September. The agenda was packed with focused panels and included a star-studded attendance list, including the presidents and high-level representatives from member state countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia). Represented for the first time was the European Commission, with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in attendance. Germany was also there, represented by foreign minister Heiko Maas. Their attendance was significant in that it showed 3SI had caught the attention of the rest of Europe and it elevated the Initiative’s role as a partner to the EU, not a threat. The US delegation was headed by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, while U.S. President Donald Trump sent a message to the participants, emphasizing the great potential of the 3SI.
The goals of the Initiative are to boost connectivity within the region, especially energy, transport and digital. In that regard, six countries (Croatia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia) signed a letter of intent to create a Three Seas Investment Fund, with the idea to speed up the realisation of mutually beneficial projects and attract long-term investment.
On Croatia’s behalf President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic attended the 3SI. Madam President presented eleven connectivity projects in Croatia, which total €1.7 billion; seven projects in the transportation sector, three in energy and one in digital. The projects were presented at a business forum which took place as part of 3SI. The President took the opportunity to announce a forum to be held in Zagreb in October, which will focus on digital communication, as somewhat of an offshoot of the Initiative.
The next country to host the summit will be Slovenia in 2019. It is likely that by then the Three Seas Fund’s structure will be put in place. Expectations will also be high for sighs of announced collaboration coming to fruition.