Facts, not opinions: regional integration along the Fehmarn Belt axis
There is a long tradition of cooperation along the Fehmarn Belt axis, in other words between the Hamburg metropolitan region and the Øresund region. As early as in 1863, the Danish government drew up plans for the shortest transport link between Hamburg and Copenhagen, and these were picked up on again 100 years later with the construction of the Fehmarn Sound Bridge.
This so-called Vogelfluglinie (bird flight line) transport corridor was then essentially extended in 2000 when the Øresund Bridge went into operation as the first land link between Denmark and Sweden. This helped boost the social and economic integration of the Copenhagen metropolitan area, Sweden’s third-largest city Malmö and the science hub Lund.
Based on these positive experiences, the Danish government seized the initiative in 2008 and promoted the signing of a treaty between the Kingdom of Denmark and the Federal Republic of Germany for the construction of a fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt. This treaty was then ratified in 2009.
In accordance with the treaty, the fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt will be realised as an 18-kilometre-long tunnel between the Danish island of Lolland and the German island of Fehmarn. The tunnel will comprise a double-track electrified railway and a four-lane motorway. Based on the current plans, the 45-minute ferry crossing will be replaced with a ten-minute car drive or seven-minute train journey as of 2028.
The Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link in a ‘post-truth age’
The Fehmarnbelt Business Council (FBBC) has been overseeing the project since the beginning. It is the FBBC’s objective to make the most of the opportunities generated by the new infrastructure and to identify any regional weaknesses early on and deal with them accordingly. This can make continued social and economic integration all along the Fehmarn Belt axis a success.
In order for the FBBC to achieve its objective, the areas of action required for the region’s ongoing integration must be identified and the appropriate projects need to be implemented. So it is not so much opinions regarding the pros and cons of a Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link, the opportunities for regional development or the past results of German–Danish cooperation that matter, as it is facts.
The FBBC therefore decided in 2017 to measure the effects of integration so far along the Fehmarn Belt axis in order to answer the question as to whether or not the region is integrated. The Fehmarn Belt Integration Index, or FBx for short, was therefore developed as a gauge. The FBx measures the degree of integration – nothing more, nothing less.
In the medium term, the FBx is to be supplemented by the FBBC Business Panel, which will use the FBx results to identify the reasons for strong/weak integration. If the effects and reasons are known, fact-based and targeted activities can be planned and implemented to achieve greater integration of the Fehmarn Belt region. The FBBC is consciously not building on opinions, emotions or estimations, but on facts.
The Fehmarn Belt Integration Index (FBx)
To objectively answer the question as to how integrated the region along the Fehmarn Belt axis is, the FBBC sets great store by a comprehensive understanding of the term integration. It is not just a question of economic integration – it is also about the region’s scientific, social and transport integration. As such, the FBx measures integration in five areas:
- integration of the labour market
- economic integration
- scientific integration
- cultural integration
- transport integration
The FBx therefore consists of five sub-indices of equal weighting, and its general structure – but not its content – is comparable with that of the Øresund Integration Index. This measured the development of integration in the Øresund region over a 15-year period. Each of the five FBx sub-indices comprises up to seven underlying indices, resulting in a broad data pool to be used for calculation purposes.
Analysis of an index makes sense when developments can be observed over an extended period. In the case of the FBx, its early development means it can be used to measure how the Fehmarn Belt region grows together both before and after the fixed link is completed. In contrast, measurement of the integration in the Øresund region only began once the fixed link had been inaugurated, so it was not possible to perform a before/after comparison. The year 2007 was intentionally chosen as the reference year for the FBx, as this includes the financial and economic crisis of 2007/2008.
When talking about the fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt, reference is often made to the ‘Fehmarn Belt region’, the ‘Fehmarn Belt axis’ or the ‘German–Danish region’. For the purposes of calculation and presentation of the FBx, it is important that the region be precisely defined. The region is therefore defined as the Danish administrative regions Capital Region and Zealand Region and, on the German side, Hamburg, Schwerin (district-free city), the Nordwestmecklenburg district, Lübeck (district-free city), the Herzogtum Lauenburg district, the Ostholstein district, the Segeberg district and the Stormarn district.
The results of the five sub-indices will be published in the course of 2019. The FBx will then be published as a full index by the FBBC for the first time at the end of 2019.
FBx sub-index – Science, technology and innovation: strong cooperation between the cities of Hamburg and Copenhagen
The index for scientific integration within the Fehmarn Belt region is one of five sub-indices of equal weighting (20 per cent each) that make up the Fehmarn Belt Integration Index (FBx for short). The category of ‘Science, technology and innovation’ as tracked by this sub-index was developed anew and does not yet feature in the measurements for the Øresund region, for example. The FBx measures regional integration between the Hamburg metropolitan region and the Øresund region.
The ‘Science, technology and innovation’ sub-index comprises three underlying indices that reflect the activities in the area of innovation and scientific cooperation between the German and Danish parts of the Fehmarn Belt region. These comprise:
- joint registration (and recording) of patents from applicants based in the German and Danish parts of the Fehmarn Belt region (other patent applicants based outside of the region may also be involved)
- joint publication of the results of scientific research produced by authors based in the German and Danish parts of the Fehmarn Belt region (other authors based outside of the region may also be involved)
- joint execution of publicly funded research and development projects with researchers based in the German and Danish parts of the Fehmarn Belt region (other researchers based outside of the region may also be involved)
To preclude general developmental trends and/or possible cyclical influences of a sub-index, each of the three underlying indices is corrected by a benchmark index. These benchmark indices include:
- joint registration (and recording) of patents from applicants based in Germany and Denmark (other patent applicants based outside of Germany and Denmark may also be involved)
- joint publication of the results of scientific research produced by authors based in Germany and Denmark (other authors based outside of Germany and Denmark may also be involved)
- joint execution of publicly funded research and development projects with researchers based in Germany and Denmark (other researchers based outside of Germany and Denmark may also be involved)
The data used to calculate the three underlying indices and the corresponding benchmark indices is sourced from the OECD (patents by regions), Web of Science (data regarding scientific publications) and the European Commission (cross-border research and development projects).
Joint research and development projects as drivers of regional integration
Looking at the three underlying indices, it is clear that cross-border patent submissions have declined significantly compared with the reference year (2007 = 100). This may reflect a general trend of fewer patent applications coupled with faster product life cycles, although this is already taken into account by the benchmark index.
In contrast, the number of joint research and development projects remains roughly the same as in the reference year (2016 = 94), taking into account some minor annual fluctuations. These fluctuations are in part due to the European Commission’s tender cycles (‘programme periods’), which are then reflected further down the line in the number of projects executed. Analysis indicates that project execution is heavily focused in the Hanseatic city of Hamburg on the German side and in the Copenhagen metropolitan area on the Danish side.
There is a noteworthy development in the joint publication of scientific findings – one which has been positive with less pronounced annual fluctuations. As with project execution, the geographic focus (where the authors are based) is on the Hanseatic city of Hamburg on the German side and the Copenhagen metropolitan area on the Danish side. The development of publication activities in the Fehmarn Belt region very much sets itself apart positively from the national development, clearly showing that cross-border cooperation as expressed as joint scientific publications is especially pronounced in the Fehmarn Belt region.
Cooperation in the area of science, technology and innovation along the Fehmarn Belt axis can be said to be positive in comparison to the reference year. As such, this area constitutes a ‘stability anchor’ for regional integration within the Fehmarn Belt region.
Figure 1: FBx sub-index – Science, technology and innovation (as at March 2019)
Summary of the Fehmarn Belt Integration Index (FBx)
The FBx measures the development of integration along the Fehmarn Belt axis stretching from the Hamburg metropolitan region to the Øresund region. The reference year (index = 100) is 2007. The FBx consists of five sub-indices measuring integration in the areas of the labour market, the economy, science, culture and transport. The sub-indices are weighted equally, each accounting for 20 per cent of the total index.
The five sub-indices comprise up to seven underlying indices. These underlying indices together form a sub-index. The weightings are calculated on the basis of how many people, journeys or other metrics are affected. The purpose of this is to prevent changes in ‘subordinate’ indices from having too great an impact on the overall index.
Each underlying index consists of an index for an indicator, which is corrected by a benchmark index. This is to eliminate any general developmental trends and/or possible cyclical influences.
FBx sub-index - Science, technology and innovation
Sub-index measures regional integration along the Fehmarn Belt axis by taking into account joint patent applications, the joint publication of scientific findings and the joint execution of publicly funded research and development projects.
Joint publication activity (which, by definition, is preceded by joint scientific research) demonstrates a strong dynamic, whereas joint patent applications cannot be considered as the basis for increasing regional integration.