At the invitation of Schleswig-Holstein’s Minister President, Torsten Albig, and Minister for European Affairs, Anke Spoorendonk, politicians from the STRING cooperation from the south of Sweden, Denmark and Hamburg met today (25 February 2014) with the Schleswig-Holstein Government, for in-depth discussions about cross-border development in connection with the fixed Fehmarnbelt crossing. Minister Spoorendonk holds the rotating presidency of the STRING cooperation from August 2013 until October this year.
At the meeting in Kiel, the Danish and Swedish politicians offered their full support for the demands from Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg to the German Ministry of Transport and the German national rail network, Deutsche Bahn AG, for improved rail infrastructure on the German side of the Fehmarnbelt. Minister President Albig said: “We strongly welcome this international support. It underscores again the European dimension of the fixed Fehmarnbelt crossing.”
In January 2014 a preliminary joint letter from the STRING politicians was sent to German Minister for Transport, Dobrindt, and to the Transport Ministers of Sweden and Denmark, reminding them of the need for a timely plan coordinated among themselves for a rail network around the fixed Fehmarnbelt link, due to be completed by 2021. This would include not only an environmentally friendly fast train connection from Hamburg to Copenhagen in 2.5 hours, but also adjusted links to regional transport networks. Minister Spoorendonk said: “I welcome wholeheartedly the prompt reply from the new Danish Minister for Transport, supporting the suggested meeting of the three national Transport Ministers together with those of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg in the margins of the Fehmarnbelt Days 2014, hosted by STRING. Now, we are looking forward to a similarly positive response from Berlin to the STRING Initiative now.”
Another important topic of the meeting between the cabinet and political heads of the STRING cooperation was the discussion about prospects for green growth along the Fehmarnbelt corridor. In September 2012, the STRING cooperation devised the ambitious goal of developing into a northern European model region for sustained “Green Growth”. This would make the whole region more attractive to potential new businesses and bring in news jobs, including highly qualified workplaces. Since then, a number of concrete proposals for lighthouse projects, assisted by EU funds, were developed. The project presentation from the Danish capital region was met with particular interest from the participants of the meeting. The goal of the project entitled “Eco-friendly Highway” is the construction of an environmentally friendly eco connection on the Jutland route as well as on the Fehmarnbelt route, where environmentally friendly fuels for electric-, hybrid-, organic and natural gas-driven vehicles are available to everyone.
Holding the current STRING presidency, Schleswig-Holstein is engaged in special efforts to make the second Fehmarnbelt Days, which will take place from 30 September until 2 October in Copenhagen, a milestone for growing cooperation in the south west of the Baltic Sea Region. Alongside STRING, the wide range of organisers of the Fehmarnbelt Days include the Fehmarnbelt Business Council (FBBC), the Fehmarnbelt Committee, the Danish Ministry for Housing, Town Planning & Rural Affairs, the Baltic Development Forum and Femern A/S. A top-class series of events is being planned, including a political STRING conference on “Green Growth – Regions in Motion” with the designated participation of the Danish government and the European Commission. The organisers are seeking to make the Fehmarnbelt Days into a Mecca for important multipliers from politics, economics, science and society across the whole STRING region.
Against this background, the Danish and Swedish STRING representatives were pleased by the willingness shown by the Schleswig-Holstein cabinet members to take on an active role within the framework of the Fehmarnbelt Days. The Hamburg Senate will also have strong representation.
In the afternoon, the STRING cooperation politicians met with representatives of all the factions represented in the state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein, in order to gain broad parliamentary support for the goals and work of the cooperation. Anke Spoorendonk said: “I am confident that through our fruitful discussions today in Kiel we have made a significant contribution to the strengthening of the links between the Swedish-Danish-German STRING cooperation network and the protagonists in Schleswig-Holstein. That is a win-win situation for all sides.”