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Fehmarnbelt Tunnel: Great expectations for economic growth and job creation

Expectations are on the rise that the Fehmarnbelt Link will create jobs and growth in the surrounding region. A survey of the attitudes towards the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel in the regions of Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Norway that are closest to the Fixed Link, shows especially high hopes for positive effects in Denmark and Germany, although Sweden and Norway are also expected to benefit.

As many as 60 percent of the surveyed Danes believed that the Fixed Link will benefit the Danish economy, with 50 percent and 51 percent also believing that it would increase competitiveness and job growth.

However, the positive expectations far outweighed the negative in all surveyed regions: More than half of Germans in the survey think the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel will benefit the economies in Denmark (61 percent), Germany (53 percent) and Sweden (52 percent), while 42 percent think it will also create economic growth in Norway.

The figures were slightly lower in Sweden and Norway, although positive expectations still far outweighed negative ones – while 35 percent of Swedes agreed that the Fixed Link will benefit the Swedish economy, only 10 percent disagreed. The corresponding numbers for Norwegians were 23 and 10 percent.


Source: YouGov on-line (CAWI) survey conducted in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, Zealand (incl. Copenhagen) in Denmark, Region Skåne, Halland and Västra Götaland in Sweden and Østfold and Akershus Fylker in Norway. Data was collected in the period April 23rd – May 1st 2018. The respondents were aged 18+.

Trade optimism
One reason for the optimism may be that the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel is expected to bring a huge increase in trade in the region. A full two-thirds of Danes in the survey agree that the Fixed Link will increase trade between Scandinavia and Germany, an attitude that is seen all over the region (Germans 57 percent; Swedes 57 percent; Norwegians 50 percent). This is a slight increase since the first poll was conducted three years ago.

“The Fehmarn Tunnel will be a game changer in mobility both close to the link but also for the economic exchange between Scandinavia and Germany. And an increase in trade both within the region and with neighbouring regions will be one of the developments that will have a substantial effect on the economies and serve as driver of economic growth in the whole of Northern Europe”, says Jacob Vestergaard, Managing Director of STRING.


About the survey:

The survey was conducted in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, Zealand including Copenhagen in Denmark, Region Skåne, Halland and Västra Götaland in Sweden and Østfold and Akershus Counties in Norway. Data was collected in the period April 23rd – May 1st 2018. The respondents were aged 18+. All interviews were collected on-line (CAWI) and the results have been weighed against the total population in Germany, Sweden,


Swedish and Norwegian support despite further delays

Further delay of 3 to 4 months for the approval of the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel. This message from the Schleswig-Holstein Ministry of Transport at the end of March has not made the Danish Government slow down its plans at all. And it is clear that our Swedish and Norwegian neighbours are still in full support as well.

New partner and County Mayor of Akershus County Council Anette Solli has expressed the importance of the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel for Southern Norway for a long time:

“For us, it is important to view the whole of the northern part of the ScanMed Corridor as a connected area with mutual need for improved infrastructure to ensure growth and development. The Fehmarnbelt Tunnel is, of course, removes a critical bottleneck in a highly prioritized axis and is thereby a natural priority for us in Akershus County”.


Swedish STRING support

Also in Sweden, STRING’s political partners Region Skåne, Malmö Stad, Region Halland and Region Västra Götaland are all in favour of removing the bottleneck between Scandinavia and continental Europe by the establishment of the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link. All in the knowledge that the Swedish businesses will benefit hugely by the tunnel.

Chair of the Regional Council in Västra Götaland, Magnus Berntsson is aware of Southern Sweden’s gains:

“Sweden is one of the big winners: As a country, you get the benefits but avoid the costs and the building phase. Germany is Sweden’s largest export market and with a fixed connection across the Fehmarnbelt, transport is facilitated between Sweden, Denmark and Germany in a greener and more efficient way”.

A large part of the profits for rail freight transport goes to Sweden, as 90% of freight traffic by rail in Denmark is transit to and from Sweden.


Commercial Sweden raising voices

The Swedish businesses have been vocal about their support [SF1] for a long time, but recently Per Tryding, Vice Chair of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Sweden, decided to be very vocal in a Danish newspaper, stating:

“The establishment of the tunnel will mean a radically improved connection, and that profits from revenue will benefit the public instead of the interests of private companies.”

“In business, support for the Fehmarn connection is unique and strong – we have not taken a single player in our businesses who are against the connection, neither in the Nordic countries nor in Germany”, he added.


Next steps for the approval

According to minister Bernd Buchholz, the delay of a further 3 to 4 months is a result of the Approval Authority wanting to prepare their approval to be thorough enough to stand in the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig where it is highly anticipated that Femern A/S will be taken to court, by the opponents of the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link.

No further delays are foreseen and the support on a national level I unanimous – Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Løkke Rasmussen both confirmed their strong support when they met earlier in April.

Also from Schleswig-Holstein there is news of firm support: The ground-breaking ceremony for the Fehmarnbelt connection will take place in 2020. This was guaranteed by Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther in a TV interview with TV station DK4.

Prime Minister Günther has “no doubt at all that the connection is coming,” the head of government said on the television program “Dansk-tysk med Matlok”.”The state government will do everything it can to complete the project as soon as possible. However, in Denmark we must make clear that we have a different planning procedures in Germany.”


German businesses to focus on development surrounding the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link

Community makes us strong: Twelve actors have teamed up for a new ’Regional Management HanseBelt’. The new initiative is financially supported by the Land of Schleswig-Holstein and is now under the management of the Chamber of Commerce of Lübeck.

On 24 April, 80 representatives from business and politics gathered at the Circus Museum in Ratzeburg. The meeting was organized by HanseBelt, representing the counties of Herzogtum Lauenburg, Stormarn, Segeberg, Ostholstein and the Hanseatic City of Lübeck, together with their respective business promotion companies. At the meeting, Schleswig-Holstein’s Interior Minister, Hans-Joachim Grote (CDU / Christian Democratic Party), handed over a grant of 644,850 Euros to HanseBelt.

The grant was given to promote ‘Regional Management HanseBelt’s future work in strengthening the cooperation of the counties and cities, as well as their political efforts, for a regional utilization of the existing potential that will arise with the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel.


Focused effort

In the future, a team of three employees will work to strengthen the attractiveness and economy of the region between the Metropole Region Hamburg in the south and the Danish-Swedish Øresund Region in the north. Efforts will focus on development of new business areas, mobility, marketing and tourism.

” ‘Regional Management’ will contribute to the improvement of framework conditions for growth and prosperity in HanseBelt. The industry sees itself as a motor for further development of cooperation”, the President of the Chamber of Commerce Friederike C. Kühn stated.


Minister: Cooperation in the region has a special value

“Competition is not the engine of a future-proof development for regional development. Co-operation is the way to success”, Schleswig-Holstein’s Interior Minister Hans-Joachim Grote emphasized.

“Therefore, I am pleased to hand over ‘Regional Management HanseBelt’ a grant of 645,000 €. Cooperation in the region has a special value for the state. The HanseBelt region it is not only part of the Metropol Region of Hamburg, but also part of a larger German-Danish region, which will gain increased importance through the establishment of the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link. Regional management is important in facilitating the region’s particularly good location”, the minister stated.

Regional management HanseBelt will strengthen the economic factors that are crucial for both existing and new businesses.

“Our focus is on issues that are crucial to our economic development, but that cannot be resolved by counties or cities alone,” project manager Hendrik Juhnke said.

Eight years ago, in connection with the plans for the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link, a regional development concept for southern Schleswig-Holstein was developed. With the new state grant, the initiative, which has now been put in the hands of the Chamber of Commerce in Lübeck (IHK zu Lübeck), has officially received a push forward.



HanseBelt is an association of over 100 companies in the region between the Metropolitan region Hamburg and the Øresund region

Read more


New Director for cross-border political network STRING

Thomas Becker will take over the role as Managing Director for STRING by June 1st. The STRING partners from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany welcome Thomas Becker and look forward to new common agendas on sustainble development and growth in the corridor from Oslo to Hamburg.

Mr. Thomas Becker is excited to be on board as Managing Director for the cross-border political network of 11 regions and cities from Hamburg in the south reaching towards Oslo in the north.He says:  

“I am excited to join the team and partnerships of STRING. STRING is truly a forward-thinking cooperation at a time where infrastructure initiatives are key in developing growing and sustainable regions in Europe”.   

“The political cross-border partnership is also the lynchpin of a green transition in this region. I will do my outmost to contribute to the strengthening of this transnational region”, Mr. Becker adds.  


International climate change and sustainable development  

By welcoming Thomas Becker as new Managing Director, STRING has secured a management with many years of extensive experience from both public, private and NGO arenas within green technologies and sustainable development. Thomas Becker has been highly involved in sustainable devlopment and climate change in both private companies, the Danish government, EU and the UN, including the prestegious Danish presidency of the COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009.  

Chair of STRING, State Secretary for the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg,  Dr. Annette Tabbara, is pleased to welcome Thomas Becker to lead the STRING Secretariat:

“We see green growth as a very importantway of developing our societies and want to facilitate and promote green growth initiatives. With Mr. Thomas Becker as Managing Director, we are certain that STRING will be more than competent to reach these ambitions.”  

Thomas Beckerreplaces Jacob Vestergaard who was STRING’s Managing Director from 2011 and who will retire at the end of May. Jacob Vestergaard has been a dedicated manager and seenthe organisation grow from 6 to 11 partners.


Saga Norén from “The Bridge” to participate in Fehmarnbelt Days

Sofia Helin who plays the lead role as Saga Norén in the successful TV series “The Bridge” has helped put the Øresund Bridge on the map. She will share her personal experience of working across borders at the Fehmarnbelt Days 2018 May 28-29 in Malmö.

Top representatives from politics, industry and research from Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Norway will exchange ideas and share knowledge on how new infrastructurecan help create cross-border relations and a cross-border European region, as it is already seen with the Øresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden.   

The same idea underlines the workon with the forthcoming 18 km long Fehmarnbelt Tunnel between Denmark and Germany.   

One of the names that standsout in the program, is actor Sofia Helin who is especially known for her role as Saga Norén in the crime series”The Bridge”. “The Bridge”is a Danish-Swedish co-production where the Øresund Bridge and cross-border cooperation and culture play an important role.   

“The Bridge” is a symbol of the transnational, of fascination of infrastructure, “to build bridges” – and working together. And the series is a great hit in both Denmark, Sweden and Germany. The show is an example of something special that occurs when two different cultures meet – both behind and in front of the camera. Something special is clearly emerging: We are seeing aboost of media co-productions between the three countries.   

At the Fehmarnbelt Days, Sofia Helin will talk about her own experiences with cross-border work. Both with the Fehmarn Tunnel between Germany and Denmark and across the Øresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden, there are new artistic opportunities – and challenges.    

Sofia Helin says:   

“When I first drove across the Øresund Bridge, I thought it was very impressive. Now I have crossed it so many times that the relationship has changed: You become friends with it. I think that many will have the same experience when the Fehmarn Tunnel is built. It’s amazing how a bridge,or a tunnel for that matter, can connect two people together and build a community”.   

For Sofia Helin, the work as an actor on “The Bridge” meant an encounter with a different working culture. She will talk about some of the wonderful experiences, but also the misunderstandings and cultural clashes that came with working across the Øresund.   

The subject is therefore,in the broadest sense,”region building” – “building relationships between people from different countries”.   


Facts about Fehmarnbelt Days:   

After Lübeck, Copenhagen and Hamburg, Fehmarnbelt Days is now taking place for the fourth time, this time in Malmö.   

The Fehmarnbelt Days 2018 bring together associations, business, politicians, researchersand cultural life from Germany and most of the Nordic countries and the EU to a two-day conference on the development of the whole Fehmarnbelt region and the importance of the forthcoming Fehmarn Tunnel.   

It is expected that more than 600 participants from Denmark, Germany, Sweden andNorway will make their way to Malmö on 28 and 29 May 2018.   

The partnership STRING, representing more than 11.5 million inhabitants in Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, the Fehmarnbelt Business Council and Region Skåne, Malmö City and Femern A/S are the joint organizersof conference.   

Topics to bediscussed at the conference are, for example:   

  • Logistics, transport and infrastructure   
  • Constructionand engineering
  • Sustainable development, innovation and green growth
  • Culture and creative industries
  • Education, research, scientific cooperation and knowledge transfer
  • Labour market
  • Tourism


Read more about Fehmarnbelt Days 2018 at   


Facts about the Fehmarnbelt Connection   


  • The Fehmarn tunnel is Denmark’s largest construction project 
  • The construction budget is 52.6 billionDanish Kroner (DKK)
  • The Fehmarn connection is user-paid according to the same model as the connections across the Great Belt and Øresund
  • The revenue from traffic also pays for the Ringsted-Fehmarn track, which is being prepared for electric trains and speeds of 200 km/h
  • Up to 3,000 tunnel workers will be directly employed on the project 
  • The Fehmarn tunnel will be18kilometres long with 2 highways and 2 rail tracks 
  • It will take 10 minutes by car and 7 minutes bytrain to cross the Fehmarnbelt  
  • The tunnel is expected to be completed in 2028


New STRING Chair: Dr. Annette Tabbara

With a new federal government in Germany earlier this year, STRING bid farewell to its Chair Wolfgang Schmidt who followed former First Mayor Olaf Scholz, now Federal Minister of Finance and Vice Chancellor, to the Federal Ministry of Finance as State Secretary in Berlin. STRING can therefore give a warm welcome to his successor and the new Chair of STRING, Dr. Annette Tabbara.

The law graduate has worked for ten years in various positions at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs before joining the Federal Chancellery in 2015. At the Chancellery, Annette Tabbara was Head of Staff for the Minister of State at the Federal Chancellor and Head of Task Force of the Office of the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration.

Annette Tabbara is pleased to take over the work as chair for STRING as part of her work with European Affairs.

‘Hamburg has close ties to its Scandinavian neighbours to the North and I am looking forward to learning more about our cross-border collaboration from our friends in STRING’.


STRING network expands with 5 new Swedish and Norwegian partners

By welcoming Akershus County and Østfold County from Norway and Region Västra Götaland, Region Halland and the City of Malmö from Sweden, STRING now encompasses a total of 11 regions and cities dedicated to developing sustainable growth and connectivity across four nations.

As of a political decision today, the STRING political partnership covers four countries, 9 regions, 3 cities and one capital, covering 75,000 km2 and 11,5 million inhabitants. The STRING partners now represent one of the major regional collaborations in Europe. The STRING area follows the one branch of the most northern part of the EU prioritized TEN-T ScanMed network. This strengthens the collective influence of the STRING corridor immensely on both a national and EU level.

New partner and County Mayor of Akershus County Council Anette Solli is pleased to join STRING:

“For us, it is important to view the whole of the northern part of the ScanMed Corridor as a connected area with mutual need for improved infrastructure to ensure growth and development.  Our membership of STRING will provide Akershus County Council, and actors in our region, an important network along a prioritized axis, strengthening the development within numerous of our focus areas”.

Mayor of Malmö, Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, is also happy to become a member of STRING, having worked closely together with the network on several occasions:

“We are delighted to have been invited to join STRING as a full member. Malmö has for a long time been indirectly involved in STRING´s work. I.e. from joint European projects and publicly supporting STRING at home as well as in Brussels. Within our cross-border region we have developed knowledge through the Öresund bridge regarding what a fixed link between two countries can do for an entire region. Malmö can bring these experiences, as well as dedication and participation, to the STRING´s work ahead”.

Heavyweight cross-border partnership

With a growing focus on functional regions and cross-border cooperation, STRING is now a heavyweight example of a collaboration that stretches from Hamburg in the South, over Zealand, Copenhagen and Malmö up along the Swedish West Coast to Norway and the Oslo area. STRING represents an affluent area of Europe specialized in industries with innovative technology, transport and logistics, life science, material science and with renewable industries and tomorrow’s energy solutions as core parts of its economy.

Chair of STRING, State Councillor Wolfgang Schmidt from City of Hamburg welcomes the new members and states:

“With five new members joining STRING, we have established the foundation of a strong corridor, showcasing an excellent example of cross-border political cooperation sitting at the northern top of Europe. We are obligated to work continuously and in collaboration for our visions of modern societies”.


 STRING facts:

Area: 75,000 square kilometres

Population: 11.5 million (+0.9 % annually 2012 – ́17)

GDP per capita: 45,300 EUR

Real growth rate in GDP +3,0% 2015

Employment rate: 79 %



The Fixed Fehmarnbelt Connection: Getting ahead in 2018

Although the project approval is still lacking for the tunnel construction in Germany, the project is well on its way on both sides of the Fehmarnbelt.

Schleswig-Holstein’s Minister for Transport, Bernd Buchholz means business: The approval authority, that was formerly part of the Planning Authority Landesbetrieb Strassenbau und Verkehr Schleswig-Holstein / LBV-SH has been removed and is now named APV – Amt für Planfeststellung und Verkehr and is linked directly to the Ministry itself. The APV will promote the minister’s declared goal: German authority approval for the Fehmarnbelt tunnel construction in the summer of 2018.

The tunnel opponents have already announced, however, that they will challenge the approval of the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. By experience, the estimate is that such a lawsuit may take up to two years.

Construction clients Femern A/S have already signed contracts with the construction consortia in 2016. Both Femern A/S and the contractors are following the German approval process closely. Meanwhile, they are preparing the technical part of the construction process.


Activities on the hinterland connections

The planning and construction of the hinterland connections is in full motion. In Germany, route B207 between the end of the A1 motorway at Heiligenhafen to Puttgarden is to be expanded to a four-track motorway. A government approval has already existed since August 2015. However, citizen initiatives and environmental organizations have placed a complaint with the High Administrative Court in Schleswig. Due to an ongoing planning process, which must be part of the trial, it is unclear whether the trial can begin in 2018 or not.

On the German part of the Fehmarn rail track between Puttgarden and Bad Schwartau, which consists of an original but expanded part and a new line along the A1 motorway, the planning is under way. Currently, Deutsche Bahn Netze / DB is preparing track planning and approval planning for the track’s eight approval sections. However, the planning is currently delayed by approximately four months. The reason being that DB in its documentation must add the latest municipal plans for noise reduction. These proposals go beyond the limits laid down by the law and DB therefore expects to start the approval process in March 2018.

The Fehmarnsund Bridge is a bottleneck and a challenge. Already in 2010, it was apparent that the listed bridge should be renovated. Later, it became clear that the bridge will not be able to cope with the load of additional trains and vehicles after the opening of the Fehmarnbelt tunnel. As of now there is ongoing renovation work on the bridge. Once the state of the bridge and its longevity is clear, probably later in the summer of 2018, this will be included in an assessment of how a new Fehmarnsund connection should be constructed. The solutions must include a possible use of the old listed Fehmarnsund Bridge as part of the project. A final proposal is expected to be ready by the end of 2018.


Denmark is ahead – but …

In Denmark, the plan is for the new rail track between Copenhagen and Ringsted is to open in May 2019. Professional media, however, have reported a number of problems in connection with the establishment of a new signal system. The Danish state railways have not yet ordered new electric trains that can fully utilize the route.

According to Banedanmark, upgrading of the Ringsted-Fehmarnbahn between Ringsted and Fehmarn includes upgrades at speeds of 250 km/h with new double trains and a new signal system ERTMS in 2021. The Storstrøm Bridge, which the route will pass, will not be ready. According to the Danish Road Directorate’s plans, the bridge must be completed by 2024 and at that time the entire rail track must also be electrified.

The expansion of the remaining part of the route between Nykøbing F. and Holeby/ the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel should be adapted to the opening of the Fixed Fehmarnbelt connection. The final schedule is not yet known.


Clouds above the Storstrøm Bridge

The new Storstrøm Bridge is a prioritized project adding up to 2.1 billion Danish Crowns. Now difficulties have arisen: Two of the three companies in the Italian construction consortium have been accused of corruption by an Italian court. One of the three companies in the consortium – Condotte – is also undergoing a reorganization. The Danish State’s lawyer has gone into the case, but at the beginning of January, they concluded that the case does not justify the Danish government to transfer the contract to one of the other bidders. Nevertheless, the signing of the contract was postponed in the first place.

However, the parliamentary majority behind the Storstrøm Bridge has decided today (31 January) to support that the Danish Road Directorate can now sign the contract with the designated Italian contractor consortium, but the contractor Condotte will pull out, so the Ministry of Transport reports.

Since the consortium did not reach the deadline today, January 31 at noon, stating that it is possible for Condotte to sign the contract, Condotte is expected to be withdrawn from the contract and that the Danish Road Directorate will finalize an agreement with the other two contractors.

The contract will include clauses on self-cleaning and abolition. The winning consortium provides a total guarantee of 480 million Danish Crowns, an amount corresponding to 23 percent of the total contract amount. The agreement will allow construction work to start in 2018 and ensure that a new Storstrøm Bridge can be completed in 2022 (road) and in 2023 (track section).


Scandlines for sale?

Persistent speculation in British, German and Danish media has reported of a quick sale of the ferry company Scandlines, which today sails the ferry routes across the Fehmarnbelt between Rødby-Puttgarden and Gedser-Rostock. Scandlines itself confirms that the owner, the British investment company 3i, always has the shipping company on the ‘sales list’. The British press reports that 3i has hired the venerable British financial advisory group Rothschild to find a suitable buyer and to handle the entire sales process.


STRING Road Trip to Region Halland

Highlight of the day-trip to Halmstad was open talks with the politicians of the Growth Committee, including the committee’s chairman Dag Hultefors who will represent Region Halland in STRING’s Political Forum, and also the chair of the regional council Mats Eriksson.

With new members joining STRING in early 2018, the STRING secretariat has kick-started a line of road trips to visit new partners. The new members are: The City of Malmö, Region Halland and Region Västra Götaland in Sweden and Akershus County and Østfold County in Norway. The first  visit was to Region Halland including a meeting with the region’s Growth Committee on 23 January.

Infrastructure, green development, culture, communication and tourism were on the agenda of the many meetings, Region Halland and STRING had planned for the day at former hospital and now administrative building of Region Halland in Halmstad.

Chairman of the Regional Executive Board in Halland, Mats Eriksson, welcomed Jacob Vestergaard, Managing Director of STRING to Halland and stressed the exciting possibilities for Halland to have an international forum to lift Halland’s priorities within infrastructure, sustainable growth and culture – a perspective following Halland’s tradition of thinking both-and rather than either-or.

Chairman of the Growth Committee Dag Hultefors, who will be a member of STRING’s Political Forum, agreed in the possibilities the STRING network will open for Halland and stated:

– OECD points in its report “Territorial Review Megaregion of Westerns Scandinavia” to the importance of building interregional partnerships to accomplish dynamic and sustainable growth, and mentions STRING.

– Through our new membership in STRING we’ll gain new opportunities to develop joint political agendas, to initiate projects together and develop sustainable growth in a global world where it is strategically important to join alliances with both neighbouring regions as well as nationally and internationally, and this is fully in line with the Growth Strategy’s priorities, said Dag Hultefors, Chairman of the Regional Executive Board’s Growth Committee in Halland.


New management for STRING in 2018

Managing director Jacob Vestergaard is leaving STRING by the end of May 2018. The process to find a new Managing Director has been started by STRING’s Steering Group.

2018 will be an exciting year for STRING in many ways. The year is off to a great start by expanding with new members in February and by summer a new management and additional positions will be in place to strengthen STRING’s further development. Jacob explains his decision to leave:

– STRING is undergoing an incredible development now with the expansion and the partnership today is stronger than ever both politically and financially. This seems to me to be the perfect time to leave. And as I turn 65 in March, I have been 40 years on the labour market of which 34 have been in leading positions, I will slow down now and retire from my position in STRING. I will work part time with limited assignments, Jacob Vestergaard explains.