When I run into him, at a Programme conference in Vaxholm outside Stockholm, Sweden, he is enjoying some coffee in the surprisingly warm autumn sun. He gazes over the archipelago of islands that compose the inlet to Stockholm harbour. A ferry from the island of Åland passes by and produces swells that flow over the small islets around.
Growing up in Argentina and Darmstadt, Germany, Mr Somoza studied political science and has a background working in the German Foreign Ministry, where he was responsible for relations to Scandinavian countries until he left for the European Commission, where he has been working for the past six years. The Baltic Sea Region team in the Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy consists of four colleagues, each one with a personal interest and commitment to the region.
Alexander Somoza believes that the Baltic Sea Region is an area of unique stability, despite economic disparities between countries and the historic legacy that the countries share. “The region is in fact a model for other similar areas of regional cooperation in Europe, such as the Danube and the Alpine Regions”, Mr Somoza states, referring to the opportunity of streamlining regional cooperation, which the Baltic Sea Region countries are such a good example of.
“Lift up your head and check out the area around you”, Mr Somoza says encouraging. “It is not like the Interreg Programme will change the world, but it does create a sense of togetherness among people if they only look around to find it.” He takes a sip of coffee and watches the car ferries that transport commuters between the archipelago islands. “The connection is really the added value of the Programme”, he concludes.