Barriers and Potentials of Cross Border Cooperation in the Fehmarnbelt Region

Cooperative Project of the Institut for Graenseregionsforskning, Syddansk Universitet (leading partner) and the Institute for Regional Research, Kiel University Report on behalf of the Fehmarnbelt Forum and the Kreis Ostholstein, work carried out in 2006.

Overall Project Leader and Coordinator: Dr. Martin Klatt, Institut for Graenseregionsforskning

Project Leader in Kiel: Prof. Dr. Johannes Bröcker
Work in Kiel: Dr. Hayo Herrmann, Prof. Dr. Johannes Bröcker, Dipl.-Eco. Nils Schneekloth; with the cooperation of Dipl.-Eco. Ann-Christine Schulz (Oldenburg University) and Kerstin Krey (cand. rer. pol.).

Work at the Institut for Graenseregionsforskning: Dr. Martin Klatt, Ulrike Barten (Master of Law); with the cooperation of Henrik D. Jørgensen (cand. oecon.)

The report was proceeded in the context of the Interreg cooperation between Storstrøms Amt in Denmark and its neighbouring German region of Ostholstein-Lübeck. The objective was to identify potential impediments and opportunities of cross-border cooperation in the Fehmarnbelt Region, and to present strategies to overcome barriers and to develop cross border cooperation.

Alongside extensive discussions and interviews with experts in the Fehmarnbelt Region and in other Danish-German and Dutch-German cross border regions, case studies based on comparable border regions and econometric scenarios formed the methodical frame of the study. The objective of the interviews was to record information about barriers and potentials directly from the people involved in cross border work. The scenarios dealt with potential integration between the two parts of the Fehmarnbelt region (e.g. commuter flows and interregional trade). As well as this, potential effects of a reduction or even cutback of border impediments (integration strategy) and/or the installation of a fixed Fehmarnbelt link (infrastructure strategy) were both quantified.

The scenarios assessing commuter flow potentials indicate that the Fehmarnbelt region has a disadvantage because of the long distance between the German and the Danish part, even when lowering all border barriers. A quicker and particularly a cheaper crossing of the Fehmarnbelt can compensate this disadvantage, but only partially. 
The scenarios for labour market and trade integration consistently show that the impact of integration strategies (implementation of a common cross border labour market and reduction of trade barriers) may not be undervalued when compared with the effects of a fixed Fehmarnbelt link. Compared with the transport infrastructure effect, the integration effect was mostly the stronger in the scenarios.

One important result of the interviews with the protagonists of the border region was the awareness, that dedicated individuals and enduring networks play a key role. Potentials of a stronger cross border cooperation are visible in the labour market, the education system, in inter-community cooperation, cross border tourism, information exchange, cooperation at firm level and the reduction of language barriers.

A summary of the Fehmarnbelt study in German language can be downloaded here as pdf.


Publication of the final report (in German language):

Report of the Institute for Regional Research (in German language):
Ulrike Barten, Johannes Bröcker, Hayo Herrmann and Martin Klatt (with the cooperation of Henrik D. Jørgensen, Kerstin Krey, Nils Schneekloth and Ann-Christine Schulz), Barrieren und Potentiale der grenzüberschreitenden Zusammenarbeit in der Fehmarnbelt-Region. J. Bröcker (Editor), Beiträge aus dem Institut für Regionalforschung der Universität Kiel, Nr. 41, Kiel 2006.

See also article in "Journal of Borderland Studies": Martin Klatt, Hayo Herrmann, Half Empty or Half Full? Over 30 Years of Regional Cross-Border Cooperation Within the EU: Experiences at the Dutch-German Border. Journal of Borderlands Studies, 26:1, 65-87.