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Cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic Region: an introduction
Nordregio, Stockholm, Sweden.
Nordregio, Stockholm, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Regional Science (CERUM).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6121-377x
2023 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Throughout history, transport infrastructure has played a crucial role inindustrialisation, economic growth and regional development and continues to do so. In recent decades, international trade, the growth potential of extended crossborder labour markets and new connections, such as the Öresund bridge (finalised in2000) and the Fehmarn Belt connection between Denmark and Germany (to beopened in 2029), have further increased interest in cross-border transportinfrastructure.

This is the first report in the NORDINFRA project, aiming at increasing knowledge ofcross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic Region. The project covers four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) and explores institutional and other challenges and opportunities associated with better and more coordinated cross-border transport infrastructure planning.

NORDINFRA is a research project financed by the Swedish Transport Administration(Trafikverket) and run by Nordregio and Umeå University. Its research methods consist of literature and document studies as well as interviews with stakeholders.Three Nordic cross-border transport infrastructure case studies have been selected:a new fixed link between Sweden and Denmark, namely the Helsingborg–Helsingör road and rail tunnel; an improved railway connection between Stockholm and Oslo; and the road and ferry connection from Mo i Rana in Norway, via Umeå in Sweden, to Vasa in Finland.

This report begins with an overview of the transport infrastructure planning systemsin Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, with a focus on the policy goals, the main actors and their responsibilities within the transport infrastructure planning system, central elements of the planning process, analytical tools and tools for impact analysis.

Overall, we find many similarities between the Nordic countries, although there are also important differences. In terms of transport goals, all four countries share important commonalities in that they focus on efficiency, accessibility, sustainability, and safety – although the specific goals are formulated in different ways and with different emphases. We find that, to a large extent, the countries share the same timeframe when it comes to the planning period (Denmark 2021–2035, Finland2021–2032, Norway 2022–2033 and Sweden 2022–2033).

These commonalities are positive and can be expected to facilitate the planning of cross-border transport infrastructure objects. The analysis of the countries’ national infrastructure and transportation plans shows that although Nordic cross-border transport is mentioned, the focus is primarily on national transport infrastructure that is not adjacent to a border. In all the countries, planning takes place via step-bystep, formalised processes, including impact assessments. Here, too, the similarities between the countries can be expected to increase the potential for cross-border collaboration.

We also find similarities between the Nordic countries studied when it comes to the main actors involved in transport infrastructure planning. At national level, the relevant ministry holds the responsibility for transport infrastructure, along with one or several national authorities in the field. However, one important difference between the Nordic countries is that, according to the Danish and Norwegian public administration models, the national transport authorities have less independence from the transport ministry than the equivalent agencies in Sweden and Finland.

In all of the countries, the regional councils are responsible for elaborating a regional development strategy and are frequently involved in public transportation. The municipalities are responsible for local physical planning but may also have other tasks relating to transport infrastructure, such as local roads, local public transport, ports and airports. Looking closer, the division of transport infrastructure tasks between different levels of government varies depending on the country, and there can sometimes be territorial differences within the country, too.

However, a general pattern can be observed whereby actors at national level have overall responsibility for the national transport infrastructure system, whereas regional and local actors are endowed with specific tasks and responsibilities within the transport infrastructure system. In order to facilitate cross-border transport infrastructure planning it is important that those actors involved in cross-border transport infrastructure planning have knowledge about these differences between the countries and regions involved to be able to better understand the prerequisites for cross-border infrastructure planning and adapt to the circumstances involved.

Although transport infrastructure planning primarily takes place within a national context, also the European Union plays an important role for cross-border transport infrastructure planning. A policy area of great importance is EU transport policy – for example, the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) which aims to link territories across the EU via a core network of corridors, of which the Scandinavian –Mediterranean (Scan-Med) and North Sea–Baltic corridors are most important for the Nordic countries. The EU’s policy for regional development and its Cohesion Policy are both central to cross-border collaboration – not least the Interreg A programmes, which are targeted at cross-border co-operation. Just as the EU regional development policy is connected to measures and financing mechanisms such as the Interreg, the implementation of EU transport policy is facilitated by, e.g.the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). While EU policies in the fields of regional development and transport support cross-border transport infrastructure planningin the Nordic Region, it is less evident to what extent Nordic co-operation supports cross-border transport infrastructure planning. Even though the national transport authorities are involved in knowledge-sharing networks (e.g. Nordisk Vejforum, and NJS – Forum for Nordisk Jernbanesamarbeid), since the dissolution of the Council of Ministers for Transport in 2005, there has been a lack of a Nordic political platform to discuss cross-border transport infrastructure.

Previous research and literature show that cross-border transport infrastructure faces challenges in many different fields. Challenges relating to governance involve, for example, many stakeholders at different levels of government. Economic challenges may relate to, for example, only calculating benefits on one side of a national border or increased costs due to higher insecurity. Among the legal and administrative challenges, we find conflicting laws and regulations; and among the political challenges, a lack of political interest or the risk of altering the balance of power between countries or within a country. Other challenges may relate to differences in technology, calculation models or language.

However, research literature and previous findings also highlight opportunities to overcome those challenges. These include establishing clear common goals, promoting transparency, working with relevant stakeholders and ensuring their commitment, allocating benefits and risks, and promoting effective governance. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Nordregio , 2023. , p. 67
Series
Nordregio Report, ISSN 1403-2503 ; 2023:3
Keywords [en]
Cross-border infrastructure, transport planning, Nordic, Regions, Kvarken Council, EGTC
Keywords [sv]
Gränsöverskridande infrastruktur, transportplannering, Norden, nordisk, Kvarkenrådet, EGTC
National Category
Economics Economic Geography Public Administration Studies
Research subject
Economics; Social and Economic Geography; political science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-204323DOI: 10.6027/R2023:3.1403-2503ISBN: 978-91-8001-037-5 (print)ISBN: 978-91-8001-036-8 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-204323DiVA, id: diva2:1733087
Projects
NORDINFRAAvailable from: 2023-02-01 Created: 2023-02-01 Last updated: 2023-02-02Bibliographically approved

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