Kvarken Council is one of the project partners in the BSR Access project (BSR Access – Access to Clean, Efficient and Multimodal Transport Corridors in the Baltic Sea Region) that supports sustainable growth in the Baltic Sea region. On 21st October 2020, the Kvarken Council gathered circa 40 stakeholder members to a webinar that addressed the various forms of cooperation along transport corridors.
Director Mathias Lindström held a presentation on the Kvarken region’s preparatory work for the EGTC (European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation). This process received instructions from Director Krzysztof Żarna from the Central European Transport Corridor (CETC-EGTC) and Wiktor Szydarowski from the European Union’s ESPON-EGTC programme in Luxembourg. The Kvarken region’s long-standing and close cooperation was emphasized as a great strength, along with the new EGTC’s planned comprehensiveness.
Other speeches in the webinar brought up the need for efficient cooperation between stakeholders, and especially the private sector’s significance on the implementation of large infrastructure projects and the expanding of their financing base received great attention. This was highlighted by CEO Jonas Karlsson from the Oslo-STHLM 2.55 project. This problem is typical for infrastructure projects in border regions because the improvement of border region transport connections often takes second place in national transport strategies and funding programmes.
The improvement of transport connections is often linked with the economic life’s most common development programmes. For instance, the STRING collaboration between stakeholders in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Northern Germany – represented in the webinar by Managing Director Thomas Becker – has managed to create a competitive brand for the region. The advancement of the STRING region’s transport connections is linked especially to the growth prospects of the region’s renewable energy industry.
The connection between politics and the improvement of transnational transport connections was discussed by Paal Iversen from the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Chair of the BEATA organization promoting the Barents region, and by Director Lucas Bosser, who is responsible for transport and accessibility at the Brussels-based CPMR organization. Cooperation between national and regional actors concerning the improvement of transport corridors is active and tackles concrete development needs in addition to strategic policies. Nevertheless, the efficient incorporation of transnational transport corridors’ development needs into national and regional political programmes has proven to be an ongoing challenge.
Helka Kalliomäki, Associate Professor at the University of Vaasa in Finland, envisioned the increasingly versatile opportunities of university research in the development of transport corridors. The more we know about the needs and operations of people and businesses in transport corridors, the better we can create targeted and cost-efficient services for them. Project Manager Ulf Wikström from the European Union’s Interact programme emphasized the need for combining the EU’s various funding opportunities, offered by the Union’s funding programmes, in large transport projects. Funding programmes and their adjoining strategies unfortunately often act as silos, regardless of their parallel objectives. There is a great societal need for transverse cooperation between programmes.
The webinar and its preceding survey and mapping will be compiled into a position paper in December 2020 to present functional and advisable collaboration models that focus on cross-border cooperation.
The work presented here is a result of the BSR ACCESS project – and especially of the Kvarken Council’s work package 2.2 – funded by the Baltic Sea Region programme.
The statement will be available online at: www.uudenmaanliitto.fi/bsraccess. The previously mentioned report based on the survey is available in the same address: www.uudenmaanliitto.fi/bsraccess. A short version is of the report is available HERE.
We wish to thank everyone who has participated in the work so far.