Ferry "Aurora Botnia" passing through ice on its trip between Vaasa (Finland) and Umeå (Sweden)

Meet our members: Kvarken Council EGTC

For a vivid Kvarken region: The Kvarken Council is a neutral cooperation platform and an enabler of all kinds of cross-border cooperation in the Kvarken region.

The Kvarken Council represent the Finnish-Swedish cross-border collaboration, which has enriched since centuries the cities and regions around Vaasa (FI) and Umeå (SE) separated by the Kvarken Strait. Based on the long-established economic interaction and trade across the border and the cultural and educational collaboration between people and companies the Kvarken Council was formed in 1972. In early 2021, after almost half a century of successful development projects and active cross-border collaboration between people, organisations and stakeholders, the Kvarken Council was given the organization format of an EGTC – European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation. This new status gives us an even stronger position to work in international networks. This coincides positively with the recent European development to extend the map of TEN-T core network corridors around the Gulf of Bothnia. As a result, the Scandinavian-Mediterranean and North Sea – Baltic core network corridors reach closer to our cities and catchment areas.

Map of the Kvarken region
Map of the Kvarken region

Our international project portfolio has been distinctive in the fields of transport and infrastructure, business, environment and innovation and therefore our partnership with Scandria®Alliance brings strong mutual benefits. The strategic agenda of the Scandria®Alliance on clean fuels, multimodal transport, cross-border infrastructure and digitalization responds well to the strategic focus areas of our strategic plan towards 2025 and beyond.

We are a modern Finnish-Swedish cross-border organization.

While there are currently more than 70 EGTCs around Europe, the Kvarken Council EGTC is the first fully Nordic EGTC. The Kvarken Council EGTC was registered in 2020 after approval from the Government Offices of Sweden and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland. The founding meeting was held in October 2020, and the Kvarken Council EGTC, which is a legal entity, has begun its operations in early 2021.

We have an important local and international mission.

The mission of the Kvarken Council EGTC is to promote cross-border collaboration and provide a platform for cooperation for all the region’s actors. Our work reduces and eliminates border barriers and increases the region’s visibility at national and European levels. We work actively in several European networks and take part in policy-making locally, nationally and on the EU-level. Our aim is to utilize the region’s strengths and assets and to support its development for the prosperity of the people and companies.

With an ambitious agenda in the transnational transport development and communications, we strive to support all the key sectors which include business, education, tourism, research and development, health care, culture, environmental issues, sports, children and young people.

We are strong in international networking and transnational projects.

Since 2011, we have generated over 13 million euros into the region’s projects and we have taken the lead or participated in over 100 projects. The most important projects in the field of transnational transport development have focused on shortening the time distance between our two countries and improving the multimodal transport network on both sides of the Kvarken Strait. ‘Aurora Botnia’, which naming ceremony was arranged on 25 August 2021 and completed its mayden voyage on 28 August 2021, has been enabled by a series of development projects (e.g. Midway Alignment, MABA, MABA II) funded for example by the Interreg Botnia-Atlantica program. The very first design process of the vessel was funded by the EU’s TEN-T financing (the Motorways of the Sea) and the construction by the City of Vaasa, Municipality of Umeå and the government of Finland together with a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). ‘Aurora Botnia’ with its novel solutions and innovations will be the most environmentally friendly RO/PAX ferry in the world. ‘Aurora Botnia’ is an important element in the region’s increasingly stronger infrastructure and growing Nordic cooperation. Our latest project initiatives in transport development focus on electric aviation and battery production clusters.
Over the years we have worked in close collaboration with many of the existing members and stakeholders of the Scandria®Alliance, for instance in BSR Access project platform and NSB CoRe. Currently, we are intensively involved in collaboration with the Policy Area Transport Coordinators in the Flagship process of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). With the new CEF II Regulation, adopted in 2021, the Kvarken region locates in the catchment area of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean and North Sea – Baltic core network corridors, which now reach around the Gulf of Bothnia. We look forward to contributing to the Corridor Forum of both core network corridors, each politically led by European Coordinators.

We have a strong stakeholder network locally and internationally.

While the bar in our regional strategy is set high, its implementation is based on simple organizational structures and transparency. Efficiency is gained by intensive stakeholder collaboration both in activities and in policy-making. We are active in result-oriented international networks and we work in collaboration with private operators representing the top in their fields. The operational unit of the Kvarken Council EGTC consists of a committed team of 5 professionals at our main office in Vaasa/Finland and and 2 professionals in Umeå/Sweden.
We are new members in the Scandria®Alliance. Our membership means an important step for us in international stakeholder collaboration and policy-making. We look forward to the fruitful collaboration together with the members of the Scandria®Alliance towards the prosperity of our cities and regions.

Read more at kvarken.org.

Photo: Christoffer Björklund