28 / 03 / 2018

What Hampers Cross-Border Planning?

The final conference of E12 Atlantica Transport project, held in Vaasa, Finland on 14th–15th March, 2018, started with the overall presentation of the project findings and of the border barriers detected.
Jerker Sjögren from Jesjo Konsult and Lars Westin, professor at the University of Umeå in Sweden, presented their work within E12 Atlantica Transport and its sister project BA3NET, in Vaasa, Finland on 14th March. They pointed out that there are no major differences in the actual planning systems between the three countries – but the problem lies in the national perspective of each respective country and the lack of a common financing mechanism.

The project has surveyed and analyzed the infrastructure planning systems and processes in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Its sister project, BA3NET, has contributed with a survey on how the background material for prioritization is constructed in the three countries. The compiled material is unique and has already been communicated to the three countries’ national transport authorities, with the purpose of creating a cross-border planning system in the Nordic countries.

– The beauty of the thing is that we have now been able to communicate our know-how and data to the authorities, Mr Sjögren says.
It is a big problem that the international perspective is very weak in national infrastructure planning. There are also differences in organization structure and culture, but they are of less importance.

– Financing is a big challenge; today it is carried out from a national perspective and there are no mechanisms for financing cross-border investments, Mr Sjögren says. This calls for new thinking and governmental mandate for authorities.
Lack of relevant data is also an aspect, and so is the fact that cross-border projects are often very dependent on the involved individuals and easily considered an extra administrative burden.

– The national planning is national and the cross-border perspective is weak. That is the main problem, Mr Sjögren adds.

Mr Westin continues along the same lines:

– Yes, there are general similarities between the three countries but the long tradition to work from the national perspective only and, at the same time, having no incitaments for cross-border work and for taking into account what is happening on the other side of the border, pose a risk that both the transport systems in each respective country and also the collective Nordic transport system become inefficient from the macroeconomic perspective.

– Each year that the Botnia-Atlantica region carries on without a broader perspective, without speed and precision in the efforts to develop the transport systems, is a lost year. The competition with actors from other parts of the world is fierce. This region must have global ambition and work more professionally, Mr Westin says.

It is a problem that national states do not pay attention to all the flows in the border regions, and so is the fact that national plans are made without concern to what is being done in the neighbouring country.

– National predictive models for international, regional and cross-border flows alike are very weak, he adds.

The present planning system risks giving rise to macroeconomically inefficient decisions and according to Mr Westin, the region should take a more decisive stand to prevent this – both at the Nordic and European levels.

Each individual state should consolidate their practices to safeguard a functional infrastructure in the border regions, and a Nordic model for freight and passanger flows should be developed.

Simultaneously, the Botnia-Atlantica region required institutional reinforcement. Further, the region must establish its own powerful competence centres within transport economy and invest in speed development.

– In addition, it is a must to continue this dialogue with the national transport authorities. The region shall work with them, not against them, Mr Westin concludes.

Text and photo: 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)