The E12 Atlantica Transport’s final conference in Vaasa, Finland, ended with a round table discussion. How shall we utilize the project outcome and what challenges are we now facing? What will be the next step – and perhaps the most important question of all – who will do what?
The round table discussion had e.g. the following participants: Mr Mathias Lindström, director at the Kvarken Council; Mr Kim Berg, chairman of the City Council of Vaasa in Finland; Mr Geir Waage, Board member of MidtSkandia and chairman of the Town Council of Rana in Norway; and Ms Lilly Bäcklund, chairwoman of the Blue Highway Society and member of the Town Council of Lycksele in Sweden.
– A common will and goal are absolutely decisive. We need to get the policy-makers, at all levels of society, to understand how important this is, says Mr Kim Berg and he is backed by the other participants.
– It is also important to have political visions reaching far out to the future, says Mr Geir Waage.
– Advanced infrastructure makes a region more attractive, which produces greater flows of everything – both people and goods. We must create opportunities for those who choose to live in this region, he adds.
– But it is a major challenge to get all the three national states to think the same way as we do, says Ms Lilly Bäcklund.
The way to proceed from here was clear for everyone – EGTC will be the next step. The purpose of an EGTC (European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation) is to consolidate cooperation through the formalization of the cooperation procedure and financing. It would facilitate cross-border co-operation within the region.
– With a cross-border EGTC we would together stand stronger in front of our national states. The project partners should now agree on a common strategy to achieve this and then proceed to our national capitals with the issue, Mr Waage says.
Mr Mathias Lindström was able to tell that this work has already begun.
– It is under way. The Board members of the Kvarken Council are unanimous and our new strategy is a part of this work. An EGTC would have tremendous symbolic value – we would be pioneers in the Nordic countries.
– In order for this to succeed, we need to have a concrete mandate to formulate a common strategi for establishing an EGTC, as well as a timetable for it, Ms Bäcklund says. It would arouse great international interest and be absolutely unique. Only if we gain strong achoring from the very beginning can we succeed in abandoning old structures.
What are the prospects for success in this matter? Will we have an EGTC after five years?
– Yes, it is a must, all the participants at the round table concluded.
– Otherwise the entire process with E12 and many other efforts would have been completely in vain, Mr Lindström adds.
After the conference, there is no doubt about the common will in the region and also the representatives from the regional councils – Mr Svein Eggesvik, County Executive in Nordland Council in Norway, and Mr Kaj Suomela, Mayor of Regional Council of Ostrobothnia in Finland, were pleased with the results already gained in the E12 project.
– It is an important project but the work is far from complete. There is great potential for us to achieve more, says Mr Eggesvik.
– We are an expanding region and cross-border cooperation goes without saying, Mr Suomela continues. It provides us with the opportunity to build on one another’s strengths and to learn from our differences.
Ms Lilly Bäcklund represented Region Västerbotten in the round table discussion.
Copy: Anna Sand
E12 Atlantica Transport – The project is a cross-border cooperation between partners in Finland, Sweden and Norway along the E12, focusing on development of a functional multi-modal transport route for goods and passengers, joint strategies for cross-border planning and future cooperation structures.
E12 Atlantica Transport partners
Kvarken Council (Lead part, FI), MidtSkandia (NO), Blå Vägen (SE) Region Västerbotten (SE), Regional Council of Ostrobothnia (FI), Nordland fylkeskommune (NO) Vaasa Regional Development Company VASEK (FI), Umeå Municipality (SE), Vännäs Municipality (SE), Vindeln Municipality (SE), Lycksele Municipality (SE), Storuman Municipality (SE), Infrastruktur i Umeå AB INAB (SE), Rana Utviklingsselskap AS (NO), Rana Municipality (NO), Polarsirkelen Lufthavnutvikling (NO), Port of Mo i Rana (NO), Mo Industripark AS (NO), Alastahaug havnevesen KF (NO), Helgeland Havn IKS (NO)