“Whatever you expect from the Fehmarnbelt Region, expect surprises”

About 160 participants participated in the FBBC-STRING conference, „Regions toward a common future“, at the Dockside in Lübeck on Friday 28 September. The final public event of Fehmarnbelt Days offered the opportunity to summarise the inspiring results of the previous days as well as to discuss the main issues – infrastructure, scientific cooperation, labour market and sustainable growth.

In a filmed welcome speech Schleswig-Holstein‘s Prime Minister Torsten Albig reaffirmed the course: „All hands on deck – and think big“.

Also in a filmed statement, William Thompson, Head of Unit for Regional and Rural Development, OECD, commented: „Whatever you expect from the Fehmarnbelt region, expect surprises. But always be aware that there will not only be winners involved in building a new region, there will also be those who suffer losses and who will need our attention.“

On the main panel, Marc-Christoph Wagner, a journalist from ARD Copenhagen, discussed with stakeholders how to proceeed with the task of developing the Fehmarnbelt region.

All participants agreed on the need to include the local communities in everything that happens in and around the Fehmarnbelt region, including information about the building process and the opportunities in the labour market of the future as well as in education.

“There is no reason to repeat the mistakes that were made in the Öresund region“, Hans Skov Christensen, Chairman of Baltic Development Forum said. All members underlined the need to be prepared on every front when the fixed link opens. „Even the largest company will fail if the interaction between the different parts of the region fails“, stated Jens-Peter Saul, Group CEO Rambøll, and Chairman of the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce .

To identify the tasks for the years ahead in terms of infrastructure, scientific cooperation, the labour market and sustainable growth, thematic workshops resulted in specific proposals. Examples include the building of a high speed-train connection between the metropolitan regions, developing cross-border collaboration and public-private partnerships.

In his keynote speech about specific opportunities within cross-border regions, Jesper Bo Jensen from the Center for Future Studies in Aarhus, Denmark, took up the latest trend scenarios and reflected on the question of how to build prosperity throughout the region. His conclusions were to strengthen efficiency, effectiveness and innovation and to build new partnerships and develop business clusters.

The wish to transfer the impetus of the past days into concrete work as soon as possible was clear to all participants of the closing panel. „10 of the 15 best logistics areas in the world are in Europe“, Reiner Perau from the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce said. „We can come even further with this project.“ Michael Svane, FBBC Vice-Chairman stated. „ There are many people who believe in the region and we have to draw on this strength.“ In an effort to convince the others, Jacob Vestergaard, Chairman of STRING came up with a simple solution: „Let’s tell stories – as many as possible“