Enhanced cooperation, reinforced cross-border connections and the ScanMed Corridor’s strategic importance were in the focus of our Brussels round table on 24 May 2023.
The geopolitical world situation and the escalating climate crisis pose huge challenges to all policy fields. The transport sector is challenged in a special way as efforts to make the European transport system greener and more resilient need to be accelerated simultaneously. During our Brussels round table on 24 May 2023, high-level speakers and pannelists from the European and regional level discussed how enhanced cooperation of cities and regions can contribute to tackle these challenges.
Randi Johanne Hoseth, EU Advisor for Climate and Energy, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Oslo Region European Office, which hosted the event.
In his opening remarks, Guido Beermann, Brandenburgian Minister of Infrastructure and Federal State Planning and Chair of the Scandria Alliance, offered the constructive support of the Scandria Alliance members to the European institutions in shaping sustainable and resilient European transport corridors. Furthermore, Minister Beermann solicited the participation of further corridor regions in the Alliance and an enhanced cooperation of cities and regions along transport corridors.
In his video message, the European Coordinator of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean (ScanMed) TEN-T Core Network Corridor Pat Cox reflected on the importance of the corridor in a changed environment. He stressed the growing strategic importance of the ScanMed corridor and its northern dimension, in particular. The Finnish and the forthcoming Swedish NATO memberships as well as the abundance of rare earth materials and biomass are two examples that underline this growing importance.
Video message by the European Cordinator Pat Cox
Coordinator Cox concluded that the Scandria Alliance with its wide regional reach and large stakeholder community is a strategic partner of the ScanMed Corridor in promoting the goals of future green mobility and securing strategic supply chains.
Representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament as well as regions along the ScanMed Corridor discussed questions of resilience, sustainability and cohesion in a subsequent panel discussion moderated by Tommi Vollmann, Head of Scandria Alliance Secretariat.
Eddy Liegeois, Head of Unit Transport Networks in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), presented the Commission’s proposal for a revised TEN-T regulation, highlighting new elements to make the transport network greener and more resilient. These include a stronger focus on urban nodes, questions of rail interoperability, maintenance, climate adaptation as well as military mobility. The Commission sees full support for its proposal from the European Parliament, whereas the Council General Approach partly lowers the ambitions and has major reservations on governance issues.
Jakop G. Dalunde, Member of European Parliament (Greens/EFA, Sweden), stressed that the Parliament sees the need to ensure an effective and timely enforcement of the transport network and to make sure that national interest is not prioritised over regional and European added value. While many proposals, including the one on a stronger role for urban nodes in the transport network, are supported by the Parliament, more needs to be done in other areas, such as (cross-border) ticketing, according to Jakop Dalunde.
Download Jakop G. Dalunde’s slides
Voices from speakers and panellists
Moray Gilland, Head of Unit Macro-regions, Transnational/Interregional/External Cooperation, Enlargement in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO), set out how cohesion policy can help to foster resilient and green transport corridors. Though not chosen by all Interreg programmes, about 50 billion Euros have been allocated to the policy objective “a more connected Europe” across all cohesion programmes. Moray Gilland calls on member states and regions to align and coordinate their priorities in cohesion funding across borders and to make wider use of the cooperation dimension in regional programmes.
Simon Lochmann, Head of External Relations Department, Regional Government of Tyrol, gave an overview on current and projected traffic flows on the transalpine transport corridors, achievements of the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) Action Group 4 on Mobility, the iMONITRAF! network as well as the state of play in realising the Brenner Base Tunnel, one of the major infrastructure projects along the ScanMed Corridor. He stressed the need for reliable and concise data. Furthermore, Simon Lochmann pointed out the need to accelerate works on access routes, to accommodate for 740m train lengths, to reserve sufficient freight slots or reducing border stop times well in advance of the Brenner Base Tunnel’s opening.
Download Simon Lochmann’s slides
Åsa Ågren Wikström, Deputy Chair of the Kvarken Council EGTC and Vice Chair of the Scandria Alliance, pointed out that the increased need for military and dual use of transport infrastructure due to changed geopolitical situation will increase the importance of the regions’ infrastructure, in particular its ports. It will also require a new and more active co-play between the regional, national and European levels. Together with other partners from Finland, Sweden and Norway, the Kvarken Council has initiated the project “New North” in the Interreg Aurora programme, where the security of supply chains and green transport corridors shall be further analysed and consolidated.
Annette Lindahl Raakil, Vice Mayor for Planning, Climate and Environment, Viken County Council and Vice Chair of the Scandria Alliance, stressed the need for prioritising cross-border rail connections. While the modal share of rail is increasing in domestic passenger traffic in Norway, this is not the case for freight and cross-border traffic to Scandinavia and continental Europe. Establishing a night train from Oslo to Copenhagen and potentially further on to Germany could be a gamechanger for cross-border passenger traffic. For the South-Eastern Norwegian counties, the main corridors from Oslo to Gothenburg and Stockholm and the Jutland corridor require much more attention.
Annette Lindahl Raakil closed the round table with a call for enhanced cooperation and coordination of investments across borders. She also invited participants to a joint conference of the Scandria Alliance and the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission’s Transport Working Group to be held in Helsinki, Finland on 7 November 2023. During this conference, discussions on the resilience of the European transport system shall be continued and deepened.