The Fehmarnbelt Link has friends in Northern Germany

14/04/2016

First along we saw the “Beltretter” – “Belt Savers”. They were, and are, against the Fehmarn project and highly critical of the modernisation of the railway and road connection to the tunnel between Lübeck and Puttgarden. At the beginning of the year “beltoffen” – “Belt Open” entered the scene. They are based in East Holstein: A small, yet growing organization who would like to create transparency, connections and dialogue across the Fehmarn Belt. “beltoffen” chairman Björn Prölß would like to give the silent majority a voice in the debate.

– We want to engage in regional development locally. Because the Fehmarn tunnel offers vast opportunities for the people at the belt. Work, live, learn – all this will take place in one region in the future. Where the sea still divides people, there will grow a new region, chairmant of “beltoffen”, Björn Prölß, answers to the question of why a pro-Fehmarn organisation has been established.

Interestingly, the chairman cannot recognize the picture of a general negative attitude against the Fehmarn link, such as the media and tunnel opponents’ convey:

– I do not see visible regional resistance generally corresponding to the East-Holsteiners’ attitude. The positive attitude from the center of society is much larger than many would imagine. And “beltoffen” wants to lend a voice to the silent majority. My assumption is that many critics will gradually come to think twice. Especially because the traffic will become greener through the massive expansion of the railway, says Björn Prölß.

For him the organisation’s main task is perfectly clear: We will actively participate in the planning of the project, both politically and on a concrete local plan, says Prölß. Therefore, beltoffen are testing the water with the man on the street:

– Just before Easter, we conducted a survey on the street, which we will expand online. This survey is more than just an attitude test. We will listen to people and find out what can be done better. Moreover, we have started our website beltoffen.de, which will increasingly serve as a platform for various stakeholders. In addition, we will take part in social media and we want to network, emphasizes Prölß.

Still “secret” and until now unseen events regarding the Fehmarn tunnel and regional development as overarching themes are to create surprises.

And how does “beltoffen” view chances of a regional cross-border integration outside the metropolises of Hamburg and Copenhagen – at a time when EU cooperation is eroding?

He is optimistic, the president says, and he looks forward the emergence of a common region on both sides of the Fehmarnbelt.

– The history of the European integration process has indeed experienced many ups and downs through the decades. Historically, the national states are still quite young. Nevertheless, especially Scandinavia and Northern Germany are connected through mutual history and a close interaction of business and culture. Where else, if not here, could Europe move forward by leaps?