In a speech delivered at the "Baltic Sea Conference" which took place in Helsinki on 10 September 1996, Mr. Martin Bangemann, European Commissioner responsible for industry, called for increased maritime cooperation between the European Union and the countries of the Baltic Sea region. Mr. Bangemann noted that: "In the promotion of economic development and maritime cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, three main issues are of vital interest: industrial cooperation, participation in the Information Society and development of transport infrastructure and related services". The Commission, he said, has already laid down initiatives to be taken for future cooperation in these areas, at every level: State to State, region to region and private initiatives. The Commissioner placed particular emphasis on cooperation in the maritime sector through the G-7 pilot project MARIS (Maritime Information Society). This project, set up by the Alliance of Maritime Regional Interests in Europe (AMRIE), aims to provide an overview and framework for the application of information technology to maritime activities, in order to involve maritime regions in the transition process from the industrial to the information society. Mr. Bangemann announced the intention to extend the MARIS project to the Baltic region: "The MARIS initiative is the main tool to promote the application of information technologies in the maritime sector. This initiative is included in the 11 pilot projects the G-7 States identified at their meeting on information technology in Brussels in February 1995. It was clear from the beginning that non G-7 countries should not be excluded. It is our purpose to enlarge MARIS to the Baltic and to invite maritime players in this region to an active participation in the sub-projects."
Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden