The Council of the Baltic Sea States was established on March 6, 1992 in Copenhagen at the conference of the Foreign Ministers of the Baltic Sea states on the initiative of Denmark and Germany as a regional inter-governmental organisation. The members of the Council are Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Finland and Estonia. The European Union joined the Council with the rights of a separate member. In 1995, Iceland joined the Council. After that, it was decided to limit the number of the Council's members by twelve. In 1999, Great Britain, Italy, the United States, France and Ukraine were granted the status of observes in the organisation.
The Council was founded as a consultative body ,above all in the economic and humanitarian spheres. The main aims of the organisation are expansion of trade between the countries in the region, economic and technological mutual assistance, and cooperation in the humanitarian and health matters, in environmental protection, culture, education, the development of the power industry, and also in the transport and communication structures in the region.
The Council is headed in turn by a representative-country which is elected from among the members of the organisation. Since June 7, 2001 Russia holds the CBSS's rotating chairmanship. In the period between sessions, the Committee of Senior Officials functions. Apart from that, there are the Commissioner for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Secretariat which deals with concrete trends in cooperation: interaction in environmental protection, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, information policy.
Moreover, sixty different organisations are functioning under the aegis of the Council - such as, for example, the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM), the Sub-Regional Cooperation Conference, the Union of Baltic Cities, the Association of the Chambers of Commerce and the Business Consultative Council.
In 1996, a special Group of Personal Representatives of the heads of government of the member-countries of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS Group) was founded for cooperation in the fight against international organised crime, illegal trade in drugs and weapons and against illegal migration, and in June 2000 - a group to combat the spread of infectious diseases.
In the context of the Council's activity, the heads of government of the Baltic Sea states meet regularly. Apart from that, the Council holds annual sessions at the level of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Economy and Ecology in each country in turns.
This time the session of the Council at the level of the heads of state and government is held on June 10 in Saint Petersburg.