Three Seas to strengthen EU's potential

Because of different geographical locations, the countries of eastern and western Europe see geopolitical threats somewhat differently, especially in the area of security. Therefore, interest of the community must be a compromise between these perceptions. The concept of the Three Seas Initiative serves as an attempt in this area to complete the integration of the eastern countries and make it more coherent.

The Three Seas (or Trimarium) as an idea has many times been the cause of misunderstanding because it has been confused with the so-called Intermarium, or the utopian vision of a federation of countries between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Sea that was supposed to serve as a counterweight for the combined might of Germany and Russia1. This romantic vision of unity among countries, although popular in Central and Eastern Europe after World War One does not make geopolitical sense, for at least three reasons. First, it would be much more difficult to unify the interests of such diverse economies of countries stretched from north to south than within the EU. Second, German and most countries of such potential “Intermarium” are within one political camp (the European Union) and Russia in another. So, there is no need to create a counterweight for Germany and Russia considered together.

Third, our index shows that even a federation of “Intermarium” countries would not be a counterweight for Germany and Russia. If we were to assume that the federation of “Intermarium” countries would include: the Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland), Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), Visegrad group (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary), along with Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Serbia—then the federation of these 16 countries with power worth 4.86 points would not be a counterweight for the combined power of Germany (3.09 points) and Russia (5.25 points) totalling 8.34 points.

What, then, is the Three Seas Initiative? It is a pragmatic internal EU initiative aimed at infrastructural, energy, logistical and telecommunications integration of the broadly understood eastern Europe, with a particular focus on the EU’s eastern border. It is an initiative seeking to increase the collective cohesiveness of the EU countries in the region. Their cooperation seeks to make up for the 50 years in the delays in regional integration cause by the domination of the Central and Eastern European region by USSR in 1945-1989 and the destructive colonial policy of exploiting its satellite countries at the time by Moscow2.

The objectives of the current cooperation in the Three Sea area is to make up for the infrastructural backwardness by increasing defence, energy, logistics and computer security in the region. Some of the examples of the project in this spirit are the “North-South” transport connections from Central and Eastern Europe to the Baltic and Nordic countries, or the integration of the region’s gas systems and electrical power networks. This is how the Three Seas Initiative is understood by politicians such as Andrzej Duda3.

The Three Seas in this sense is an initiative aiming to strengthen the EU as a whole and to equalise the level of development of its East and the West. The only thing that connects it with the utopian Intermarium is the ‘sea’ in their names.

Which countries belong the Three Seas Initiative? There are various concepts, but all include the post-communist countries that entered the EU in 2004 (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) and in 2007 (Romania and Bulgaria). In addition to these nine countries, the others included are Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and two that are not part of the EU—Serbia and Ukraine4. The Polish authorities emphasise the cooperation with Scandinavian countries, especially Denmark and Norway5.

Such a large swath of countries associated with the Three Seas Initiative results from its pragmatic nature. The Three Seas is a project initiative—focusing on concrete infrastructure projects that boost security and make further integration in the region easier. So, Three Seas is a complementary and beneficial trend for the regional integration of the EU, leading to an overall rise in the EU’s potential as a global player.

  1. For example M. Kobosko, Koncepcja Trójmorza ma sens, “Rzeczpospolita”, 15.12.2016.
  2. Ibid.
  3. K. Szczerski, Trójmorze nie jest alternatywą dla UE, wywiad M. Szułdrzyńskiego, “Rzeczpospolita”, 06.09.2016.
  4. P. Ukielski, Mapa Trójmorza. Przegląd punktów wspólnych i rozbieżności w polityce państw regionu, Centrum Analiz Klubu Jagiellońskiego, Raport 3/2016.
  5. TVN 24, Prezydent o polityce zagranicznej: wzmacniamy naszą pozycję w UE i regionie, 09.02.2017.