The Kvarken Council, which has operated as a registered association up until now, wants to upgrade cross-border cooperation in the Kvarken region to a new and higher level of ambition. The Kvarken Council, registered association, will become Kvarken Council EGTC, the first fully Nordic EGTC (European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation). As an EGTC, the Kvarken Council will carry more weight to advance, together, issues of regional importance at the national, Nordic and European Union levels.
Mr. Arne Langset, secretary-general of Indre Helgeland county in Norway, visited the Kvarken Council’s office in Bock’s Corner Brewery last week to discuss the new cooperation structure and the future.
The Province of Nordland consists of 44 municipalities and three counties in northern Norway. Helgeland is one of the counties and while it is home to one third of the population in the Province, its international industry cluster manufactures two thirds of the goods produced in northern Norway. The distance to the Nordic capitals of Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki is one thousand kilometres.
Mr. Langset pointed out that widening the horizon and including in the Kvarken region also Norway’s Helgeland, sharing the border with Sweden’s Västerbotten, gives a strategically important corridor with 600,000 inhabitants, strong industrial zone and great growth potential. According to Mr. Langset, the municipalities in Helgeland are interested in joining this new EGTC covering three countries.
“Our goods will not be transported 500 km north and then rerouted towards the east or the south”
– Mo i Rana cooperates with Narvik Port and supports the inclusion of the port in the Core corridor via Haparanda in Sweden. We in Helgeland are divided in this matter as our goods will not be transported 500 km north and then rerouted towards the east or the south. We have a straight 500-km route to Umeå in Sweden and are there connected both to the east and to the south via the NLC terminal in Umeå. For us, the ports in the Kvarken Strait are the natural connections to the proposed extensions of the EU Core corridors of ScanMed and North Sea-Baltic.
– Thanks to E12 cooperation, we already have an established common region and are able to join together three thriving, innovative and growing regions. Further, we have adopted as our starting-point a common crossborder traffic strategy across the countries. This is unique in the world and it is interesting to continue this development process into a common EGTC for the E12 area.
Mr. Langset adds that there is still quite a lot of work to be done before the EGTC is formally founded, but in his mind, the important thing is how we, from the perspective of this common region, respond to the events around us.
– This is the time to leave aside borders, redefine ourselves and act in a manner which will keep us on the map regarding national structures and transport corridors. The transport corridors are meant to catch the volumes, and it is what the E12 route does, and we fulfil all the requirements to establish a functional North Growth Region, Mr. Langset concludes.
EGTC – European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation;
EAYY – Eurooppalaisen alueellisen yhteistyön yhtymä
EGTS – Europeisk gruppering för territoriellt samarbete
The EGTC has been an official legal instrument since 2006 when the EU accepted a regulation concerning it. There had been several attempts before this to find suitable forms for organised cooperation between cities or regions within the EU. Since 2008, some fifty EGTCs have been established. The objective of an EGTC is to offer a form of collaboration that allows cross-border cooperation between Member States and abides by the laws of the country in which the official EGTC headquarters are located. An EGTC is a legal entity, which offers strong operational capability and the possibility to make decisions. An EGTC may consist of regional and local authorities, but also national governments. The parties involved enter into an agreement on setting the work in motion and compile rules for regulating and facilitating the work. Other partners from countries outside the EU can be incorporated in the collaboration, but this requires a separate cooperation agreement with the country in question and the EU Member States involved.
Kvarken Council – Cross-Border Cooperation
The operating area of the Kvarken Council is called the Kvarken region. The Kvarken Region consists of the counties of Ostrobothnia, Southern Ostrobothnia and Central Ostrobothnia in Finland and the county of Västerbotten and the municipality of Örnsköldsvik in Sweden.
The Kvarken Council is developing the region by supporting the cooperation between various actors in the Kvarken region, reducing and eliminating border barriers, increasing the visibility of the region at national and European levels, working actively in several European networks and by utilising the region’s strengths and supporting the development of the region.
The Kvarken Council has worked with over 100 cross-border projects during almost 50 years within eg. business, education, tourism, research and development, health care, culture, environmental issues, sports, children and young people as well as communications and transport infrastructure. One of the region’s joint projects is the Midway Alignment infrastructure project.
The main members of the Kvarken Council are the Regional Councils of Ostrobothnia, South Ostrobothnia and Central Ostrobothnia, the cities of Vaasa, Seinäjoki, Kokkola and Pietarsaari – all in Finland – as well as the Västerbotten County Council and the city of Örnsköldsvik, both in Sweden. The operation is financed through membership fees and funding granted by the Nordic Council of Ministers.