Over the years, the Kvarken Council has directed determined and consistent efforts to secure the ferry route across the Kvarken Strait, vital for cross-border cooperation. This project enjoys strong support in the region but, even so, major efforts are required both from politicians and officials before the new ferry is ready to sail.
The Kvarken Council’s work to safeguard the ferry route will continue unabated but it is also time for us to look ahead, towards the time after the new ferry. The present lively interest for cooperation across the Kvarken Strait, for increasing tourism, collaboration between trade & industry and universities, must be attended to and not taken for granted. I have always emphasized that we must invest in grassroots cohesion and solidary, in addition to promoting professional cooperation. By investing in cooperation between peoples, children and adolescents and in information dissemination the spirit of togetherness and solidarity will provide the Kvarken region with a good foundation for the future.
This year’s Kvarken conference was held at Kyrö Distillery in Isokyrö in Finland, under the theme of cooperation between trade & industry. It was quite obvious that there is a will to further increase cooperation across the Kvarken Strait. It is our task to make sure that trade & industry, as well as other actors in the region, have a functional transport system to use. Competitive transport solutions provide good circumstances for trade & industry which, in turn, generates investments which in the long run create prosperity on other fronts, for instance, with respect to housing, tourism, culture, education and health care. Therefore, it is particularly gratifying that the Nordic Council’s Committee for Growth and Development is backing up the report put together in the E12 Atlantica Transport project. The report states, among other things, that Norway, Sweden and Finland need more and better roads and railways going in the east-west direction across national boundaries. Our long-term efforts to safeguard and develop cooperation are bearing fruit.
EU’s present programming period ends in 2020, and it is now high time to see how we can influence the contents of the following programming period. EU’s structural funds are an important tool for cross-border cooperation and we must make sure that the coming programmes take into account our region’s developmental needs and cut bureaucracy and red tape. Further, the cooperation programmes of the Nordic Council of Ministers are an important component in the Kvarken Council’s work and also here we must be active and influence the coming programmes. What can the EU, Nordic Council of Ministers and we accomplish together in order to develop cooperation within trade & industry and create a lively meeting-point for all inhabitants in the Kvarken region?
Finally, I wish to extend my warm thanks to the Kvarken Council’s elected officials, cooperation partners and staff for their valuable work to promote Kvarken cooperation.
Chairman of the Board