After an eventful and demanding 2022, we can state to have accomplished the following: a grand 50th anniversary celebration, five finished projects, three newly launched projects, and several more in the works. We’ve also begun an inclusive strategy work, introduced new colleagues to the work, accepted new members, and gained a geographically larger area of operations. In addition, we’ve welcomed new cooperation partners, including a completely new Interreg programme area.
Despite all positive developments, shadows have crept into the world around us and into our field of work; experiences and wounds from the pandemic and the terrible war in Europe show the importance of cooperation here in the north – that we need to work together across borders in the long term, take a look at our dependencies, and also create conditions for social development, social preparedness, innovations, and possible solutions in the event of possible crises.
Our region’s cross-border cooperation is concrete and sometimes hailed as the golden egg of the EGTC family. It’s important that we work together to promote the Kvarken region’s development which, in turn, leads to visible and positive results for the region’s inhabitants. Co-investment in the world’s most environmentally friendly ferry is currently the most concrete achievement, but we haven’t stopped there. At the moment, there are discussions about increasing mobility in the east-west direction in northernmost Europe with the help of sustainable flight connections and, in the future, possibly also by means of a faster, fixed transport link over the Kvarken. It’s now more relevant than ever.
We have granted several memberships this year: to a whole region, various municipalities, development companies, and universities. Thanks to our networks, we can make the Kvarken region into a pioneer of cross-border cooperation. Our strength lies in the synthesis of many different actors who join forces to actually make a difference. Collaboration networks play an important role – regardless of whether cooperation takes place within the Nordic battery belt or the tourism industry to increase our common region’s attractiveness through joint efforts.
Cooperation is also necessary to solve the need for labour migration into our northern parts of Europe and to assume a leading position in the green transition. We possess expertise, a supply of green energy, and major new investments in green transition industries on both sides of the Kvarken. At the same time, our educational units are awake and alert. We can offer safe and high-quality living environments close to nature and the sea, not forgetting world-class education. Now we just need to help others in the world to see this.
I want to express my humble thanks to everyone working at or for the Kvarken Council, the Council’s Board, its members, and most of all the region’s politicians and officials who are brave enough to stand at the forefront of cross-border cooperation. I also want to thank the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Interreg programmes Botnia-Atlantica and Aurora, which contribute via their financing to the promotion of Nordic and European collaboration.
All this gives us a solid foundation to stand on ahead of great future opportunities and challenges that we have in the region, both nationally and globally. Our Nordic cooperation here in the Kvarken region is one of the liveliest cross-border collaborations in the whole of Europe. This is something that we must embrace and further develop.
Forwards – together!
Director, Kvarken Council EGTC