Cooperation across borders is strong

20/01/2016

A joint statement from Mätta Ivarsson, Chair of the Regional Development committee of Region Skåne and Chair of STRING and Jens Stenbæk, Council Chair of Region Zealand and vice chair of STRING.

Cross-border cooperation between Sweden, Denmark and Germany continues unrelentingly, despite both border checks and political disputes between the countries and the EU. The development of a strong economic growth engine of Northern Europe in the corridor between Scania over Zealand to Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg will eventually provide huge benefits to Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

The regional cross-border cooperation has already shown great value in the Öresund region and in the cooperation between Southern Jutland and Schleswig. There are worthy traditions of trusting political partnerships that have resulted in economic development and new dynamics.

In STRING, we have already started with the preparations for the next major step in the development of Northern Europe; the establishment of the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link and the related societal development, which comes in its wake. This, along with other big investments as the new high-speed tracks in Sweden, will create growth, jobs and sustainability. We encourage this economic development, and we promote climate-friendly transport by rail. We believe that we can create an extra thrust in this development by being well prepared and by putting the work into progress now.

STRING has developed a tourism strategy to ensure that the citizens in our region can visit the “other side” in Germany, Denmark and Sweden respectively, as we learn to know one another as an entrance to a new cross-border labor market – or simply as a new radius for available cultural experiences. We also work with research: ESS with its data center in Copenhagen, along with the DESY research facility in Hamburg, will make our region the world leader in material science. Just now, we are starting the GREAT project where we will create the necessary infrastructure so that motorists and freight transportation can run on fossil-free fuels in a nearly 1,000-kilometer corridor from Hamburg to Oslo and be sure to fill up on electricity, gas and hydrogen along the route.

To utilise the Fehmarn region’s developmental potential is extremely important – not just for the regions of STRING, but also for the whole of Denmark, Sweden and Germany, and throughout Europe. The STRING cooperation therefore calls on the Danish, Swedish, German and other European governments to find a long-term solution to the border controls.

We see regions in Europe as agents of the development of Europe’s future.

Open borders are an essential condition for long-term and sustainable economic development in the border areas, for common labor and housing markets and thus for the greater welfare of society and greater freedom for individuals. Therefore, the Nordic Countries carried out open borders without passport control already in the early 1950s. In the rest of Europe, we have had open borders since the Schengen Agreement came into force in 2001.

Now, there is a threatened freedom of movement – at least temporarily – at the two borders in the STRING corridor. Therefore, we would like to emphasize that the border controls as we now see, cannot be a durable solution. The refugee situation calls for common, long-term, European solutions rather than the temporary national responses that we see right now between Sweden, Denmark and Germany.