For years, the associations Kvarken Council, MidtSkandia and Blå Vägen have been working for the development of cross-border cooperation along the E12 east-west transport route. As a result of this cooperation, for instance, E12 has gained the TEN-T comprehensive status and the partners fully agree on the importance of active cross-border cooperation in order to reduce border barriers along the route. The partners now want to study how to take this cooperation onto the next level.
Some twenty politicians, officials and representatives of trade and industry from the municipalities and regions along the E12 route in Norway, Sweden and Finland gathered in Umeå in Sweden in January 2017. They learnt of the experiences of a number of cross-border cooperation projects and formalized forms of cooperation along several transport corridors in different countries. This will help the partnership to start investigating and, in the future, proposing various options for cooperation in this region.
– At this stage, we wish to identify and study what others in a similar situation have done, in other words, investigate existing formalized cooperation forms and see which combination would best suit our situation, says Ms Grete Vesteraas, infrastructure strategist of Lycksele municipality and representative of the Blå Vägen association.
– EGTC, European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation, is one of the options for future cooperation forms; it was discussed already in 2008 when the Kvarken Council was reorganized as an association, explains Mr Mathias Lindström, Director of the Kvarken Council. –But there are a number of different cross-border cooperation forms and that is exactly the reason why it is so rewarding to hear about them and to have the chance to pose questions and to discuss, he continues.
In addition to EGTC, the participants learnt about STRING, for instance, which is a political cooperation forum as well as a geographical area which deals with infrastructure, tourism and culture, green growth, research and development, and border barriers. The different cooperation forms are described in more detail in a report which also contains comments on their feasibility for the E12 area.
The report is HERE (in Swedish).
The meeting was arranged by E12 Atlantica Transport, an Interreg Botnia Atlantica project, and is part of the project’s work package Future Cooperation Structures.
– We have seen at possible ways of organization as well as instruments which can strengthen our cooperation, and I regard this as a completely new and exciting possibility. What interests me most are the ways our regional politicians could influence relevant cross-border administration issues. In conclusion, I believe that we can, in a smaller group, start writing down a kind of roadmap towards a more formalized cooperation.
Arne Langset, Indre Helgeland Regional Council
– This meeting has truly exceeded the expections with concrete proposals on how we can upgrade our cooperation to the next level. The challenges now, and the discussions forthwith, will focus on which way to take. We are facing an exciting process.
Tomas Mörtsell, Chairman of Local Government Board, Storuman
– The discussions will continue, absolutely. Everyone is convinced that we have to continue with cooperation and also come up with new ideas which create good conditions for future cooperation along the E12 corridor and our three countries.
Hans Lindberg, Municipality of Umeå
– We got a lot of thought-provoking information. I also had the chance to meet my colleague from Umeå and we will start negotiating on future cooperation. Companies from our region have for years participated in different cooperation projects, and it is important that we reach a shared view on cooperation.
Hippi Hovi, CEO at Rannikko-Pohjanmaan Yrittäjät
– The most interesting piece of news was the work done in Skåne in Sweden. We have similar problems and it seems fully natural to take the following step but first we must sit down and think what type of formalized cooperation we want to have, what is our primary task and then anchor the results. This was a good kick-off and we will continue our discussions in the following meetings.
Kaj Suomela, Acting Region Mayor, Regional Council of Ostrobothnia
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), Polarsirkeln lufthavnutvickling (NO), Port of Mo i Rana (NO), Mo Industripark AS (NO), Alastahaug havnevesen KF (NO), Helgeland Havn IKS (NO)