Regional Opportunities of the Fehmarn Belt Link

Linking Scandinavian Stars - Regional Development in the Fehmarn Belt Region

Master's Thesis 2009 76 Pages

Business economics - Business Management, Corporate Governance




1. Introduction
1.1. Intension and requirement
1.2. Definition of the Fehmarn Belt Region
1.3. Methodology

2. European Urban System.

3. Regional Development

4. Cross-border cooperation

5. Knowledge Economy
5.1. Life Science

6. Tourism Economy

7. Conclusion

8. Outlook

9. Literature

10. Figures



Writing this thesis turned out to be a challenge from the moment I delved into the topic. Not only due to the complexity of the subject matter, but rather more the rational I had to bring up, to explain to outsiders, why they need to build a bridge between Rødby (Denmark) and Puttgarden (Germany). This was the really hard part, because basically, you have to understand that this bridge will one day be the primary link between two peripheral regions of Denmark and Germany. The expected construction costs just for the bridge runs up to approximately 4.4 billion euro and that is without the construction costs in the hinterland (Femern Bælt A/S, 2009). Now, try to produce convincing arguments to a Dane in Copenhagen, a Swede in Malmö or a German in Hamburg. How they will benefit from such a bridge is just one part of my motivation. During my first studies in geography and history, I followed the construction of the Øresundbridge between Copenhagen and Malmö with great interest and had this topic coincidentally during my final examination. I was fascinated about the new exciting possibilities and the effects this bridge had on the entire region.

Just before ending my postgraduate master studies in Management of the European Metropolitan Region, I got the chance to write about a similar project, but this time on a larger dimension. This fits together like chalk and cheese, because I think that with the skills I have acquired through both these studies I am equipped with a broad overview about the kind of effects such a project can have.

Up until now, many studies concerning the project have been completed and many more will follow in years to come. The interest and need for more scientific work in this project are due to its expected enormous wide-ranging effects on both sides of the bridge.

Also the scepticism is pervasive in both countries, but I think that this will decrease gradually with the “Øresund-effect”. The “Øresund-effect” is the moment at which the pylons of the bridge began to gain height. From this time on, the residents of the metropolitan area of Copenhagen and Malmö had something tangible and visible they could start to believe in.

The closer we get to this project being realised, the more people will believe in it. Right now, 43% on the German and 36% on the Danish side of the border have a rather neutral attitude about the bridge (Femern Bælt A/S, 2009). But it is remarkable, that 60% of them think that this bridge will have positive effects for the entire region. Nevertheless, 69% of both belt residents have a requirement for more information (Infratest for Femern Bælt A/S, 2009).

1. Introduction

The basic intension of this thesis is to analyse the potential of the Fehmarn Belt Region (FBR), which will gain in importance through the construction of the Fehmarn Belt Bridge (FBB) – as the last missing link between the two metropolitan regions of Copenhagen and Hamburg. The interest behind is the fact that the construction of the FBB is one of the few century structures with expected enormous wide-ranging effects. Many questions concerning the construction have arisen and this thesis has the intension of giving answers to some limited research questions.

1.1. Intension and requirement

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Fig. 1: Historical Development

Source: Wikipedia, 2009

[illustration not visible in this excerpt] Building this bridge will be the last copestone of a long lasting historical development, which was already started in the early 1920s. In those days, both railway companies in Germany and Denmark wanted to establish a ferry line between Puttgarden and Rødby, which could also be served by trains. Realising this plan was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War but was resumed after its ending.

concerns on both sides of the Belt are enormous. We can infer from the treaty between Denmark and Germany, concerning the fixed link, it should improve the traffic infrastructure to stimulate freight- and passenger traffic on a regional and European level. Moreover, it has to accomplish better preconditions for an intensified cultural and economic cooperation and promote integration and dynamics in the region. It should forge new competitiveness and development in the relevant regions (Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Danish Kingdom concerning the fixed Fehmarnbeltlink, 2008). In the meantime, the treaty was ratified on March 26, 2009 by the Folketinget (Danish Parliament) and on July 10, 2009 by the Deutscher Bundestag (German Parliament) (Folketinget, 2009 & Deutscher Bundestag, 2009).

However, the bridge is not only of interest between the two national parliaments who are regarding this project as a transport policy key project that will cause positive economical effects for northern Europe and which can offer an alternative for migration out of the region (Bundestag, 2009). In early 1989, the two regional districts of Storstrøm and Ostholstein have handed in a resolution where they have formulated a demand to upgrade and strengthen the Vogelfluglinie to foster development in both districts. Additionally they have been considering the possibility of initiating cross-border cooperation together with the EU (FehmarnbeltRegion, 2007).

Ultimately it has to be clarified to what extent this new infrastructure link will improve the accessibility of both metropolitan and the peripheral regions. Beside this, it will be of major importance to find out how far the reaches of the FBB will go. The link will then be the shortest and fastest connection between Scandinavia and the European continent and may have effects on the entire northern European transport corridors as well as on the European Urban System. It has to be ascertained if and in what way the FBB will influence it and to what extent it may change the system?

In addition to it, this route is a declared priority project of the EU TEN-T programme and receives specific mention (Femern Bælt A/S, 2009). In this context, it will also be interesting to see if the FBB can open up new markets and forge links between the new Eastern European and the old EU member states.

One aspect that should also be mentioned is the fact, that after the completion of the construction of the FBB, Denmark will not be an island country anymore, because all existing important traffic corridors will be replaced and connected by bridges. This may have some influence on the individual traffic behaviour to and from Denmark as well as on any mental barriers.

This thesis will also cover some aspects of economic importance for the region concerning the question of whether the FBB can be used as an instrument to foster development. The political background was mentioned above, even though it has to be clarified whether top-down or bottom-up policies suit best for regional development. This thesis however will concentrate its investigation on aspects of the knowledge economy and tourism economy, cross-border cooperation as well as the infrastructure. This specification rests upon the fact, that above-mentioned economies have a pervasive importance for the Danish economy. A more precise differentiation will follow in the chapters to come.

Finally yet importantly, a significant point requires attention. Foregoing descriptions as well as the entire thesis will presume, that the construction of a bridge will be the outcome of a decision making process which will favour a bridge rather than a tunnel construction. Two aspects are indicating the construction of the bridge. Firstly, a bridge construction would be approximately up to 1.1 billion euro cheaper and secondly it would be much more sustainable to the public than a tunnel (BMVBS; ToE; 2006).

However, we have to keep in mind that the final decision is not yet made, but this thesis is just adapting and reflecting the actual position of the press, politics and the economy.

Summarising we can say that the objective of this thesis is to examine whether the construction of the FBB will generate regional development and therefore increase the attractiveness of the FBR. The outcome should help to identify chances, make preconditions and adopt measures for the best future possibilities. It should furthermore support an analysis of regional economic impacts and potentials to submit proposals for the use of economic opportunities of the region. It should also help to persuade all participants of the FBR.

Hitherto documents and papers have been mainly concentrated on single aspects within the FBR, like environmental, economical or social issues whereas this thesis has the aspiration to outline a general view about significant facets. For this purpose, literature was used here referring to similar projects that have been carried out in Europe. In addition, the cited authors have been chosen by their relevance for the scientific scene and the specified research topic.

Fulfilling the plan: we can hypothesise that the FBB will not just be a bridge with its main function of connecting two regions, but also the driving force for regional development that will strengthen and upgrade it. Moreover, it will contribute to the integration of two of the most important economic and knowledge regions in Europe.

This is going to be scrutinised with the following research questions:

- What kind of effects might the FBB cause in regard to infrastructure and cross-border cooperation?
- Has the bridge the potential to improve the positioning of the FBR as well as of the two metropolitan regions of Hamburg and Copenhagen among the European urban system?
- Is the knowledge economy and the tourism economy of importance for the FBR and if so what is the contribution of both for the region?
- Can the construction of the bridge generate new economic possibilities and thus economic growth to increase the economic importance, competitiveness and attractivity of the region?
- Can the bridge be seen as an instrument to foster regional development and thus become an identity builder for the region?

1.2. Definition of the Fehmarn Belt Region

This chapter considers the size limitation of the FBR to facilitate research generally. The need for a distinct definition of the FBR is in this case of major importance, because the region lies in between the second (Hamburg) and third (Copenhagen/ Malmö) wealthiest urban regions in Europe, which are coincidentally the commercial drivers within the FBR (Wichmann-Matthiessen, 2009). In order to distinguish it form both metropolis is it hence necessary to find out, what this region is that we are talking about.

Before determining this area, we have to understand what a region is. Following Paasi’s explanation, regions are, in the way we perceive them nowadays, more artificially created entities, answering the purpose of social and cultural as well as political, economic and finally administrative needs. Regions have arisen out of clearly recognisable borders and have a common identity with shared opinions (Paasi, 1996, 2002; Wichmann-Matthiessen, 2004). Their identity joins people and regions together (Paasi, 2001). That implies for the FBR, which has no historical antecedents comparable with the German-Danish land border that has changed several times because of act of wars that it has the potential and the possibility to grow to one region together.

In times of globalisation, it is of particular importance to project one FBR with shared regional values and self-confidence. If a region wants to assert itself on the global market, it has to come up with something special that differentiates it from others. Within the flux of global standardisation and a worldwide financial crunch it becomes important to strengthen the impact of regions and regional identity, and thus of regional entrepreneurs with a global orientation. The so-called glocalisation is another approach to come through highly volatile economic times, especially for peripheral regions (Schröder, 2004).

Making the FBR into a product that can be sold, has the potential to attract business in terms of tourists, capital and professionals. This can consequently generate action and bring awareness to the regions residents. The construction of the FBB can popularise the region, because such a huge construction event is of international interest (Wichmann-Matthiessen, 2000) and can raise the degree of identification so that they can perceive themselves as one FBR.

Reflecting back on Paasi’s understanding of regions, it is hardly possible to talk here about one naturally grown region, based on the fact that the FBR is divided by a wide waterway, which represents an inevitable mental barrier between residents on either side. In such peripheral regions, sea boundaries are reinforcing the importance of national borders (Knowles & Wichmann-Matthiessen, 2009). Furthermore, they are more disconnecting than land borders, because they are visibly illustrating the physical insuperability of national borders. In a Europe with the Schengen Agreement, where you will not find any border controls, residents are wont to travel between countries without being aware of them. Perhaps for that reason sea borders do remain as psychological barriers, which cannot be crossed within seconds. Sea borders require patience on the part of travellers. In comparison to onshore distances, a 19 km long distance on water equates to substantial geographical and time distance which to cross is an aggravating circumstance (Barten et al., 2006).

Peripheral regions are characterised by distance, dependence and distinction. Distance is described here in the way of accessibility and is rather an infrastructural problem that has to be overcome. However, referring to mental barriers can also have the meaning of social, cultural and administrative distance, which exists between the peripheral regions and the centre. Further aspects of peripheries should be considered from an economic perspective. The process of producing economic values predominantly takes place in central areas, whereas peripheral regions are rather delivering cost-effective basic goods, mainly from the agricultural sector (Waack, 2002).

It can be concluded, that through creating one FBR out of two peripheral regions and through improvements in the infrastructure such a newly created region will gain the possibility to become central, independent, distinctive and finally economically successful. It will be interesting if such a newly created region could have the potential to overcome mental barriers.

Many are already talking and writing about the FBR, but there is no accurate determination of what it consists of. The variety of suggestions is huge, but all of them have nothing in common. This is necessary to adapt developmental policies and strategies best to the region. It is necessary to the understanding of the importance of the region first to strengthen and upgrade its position and secondly to attract new industries and entrepreneurs as well as employees.

The present “definitions” of the Fehmarn Belt Region are, for this thesis and its purpose, totally inappropriate. They can solely serve spatial orientation. For the purpose of this thesis, the partition of the COWI report has been taken (COWI, 2008) as a basis, which orientates between the direct and indirect effects of the FBB. Talking about just one FBR cannot meet the requirements that are imminent. Consequently, the entire entity has to be split up into sub-categories, which will be named FBR I, II and III. Each of them has its perimeter and relevance.

The FBR I is represented on the Danish side by the municipalities of Lolland, Guldborgsund and Vordingborg. All of them are situated on the islands of Lolland, Falster and Møn, as well as the most southern part of the Island of Sjælland, Vordingborg. The German side is represented by the capital city of Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, the districts of Plön and Ostholstein. In the latter the Fehmarn Island is situated, and the Hanseatic City of Lübeck.

The reasons for the limitations are based on the facts, that the above-mentioned areas will be affected the most by the construction of the FBB. This will also be the starting point for regional development that will probably spread out concentrically and in parallel after the groundbreaking ceremony in 2012. Altogether, FBR I has a total size of 5217 km² with a total population of 947.000 residents (Danmarks Statistik & Statistik Nord, 2009).

In contrast to FBR I, FBR II will profit through indirect effects that are accompanied after the construction and the opening of the fixed link in 2018. FBR II corresponds coextensively with the STRING area. It consists of the two metropolitan areas of Copenhagen and its capital region (Region Hovedstaden) and Hamburg, Sjælland and the state of Schleswig-Holstein, as well as of Skåne in South Sweden.

Additionally to the STRING area, we have to include the western part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, especially the towns of Rostock, Schwerin and Wismar on the ground of their importance for the local as well as supra-regional scale. Schwerin as the capital city of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has a political pre-eminence for the entire state and moreover has cultural appeal due to its long history. The same applies to Wismar whose old town was recorded in the UNESCO World heritage list in 2002. More important is Wismar’s economic role in shipbuilding and the paper industry. Both branches employ more than 2300 people in a town of 45.000, and many more in the supply industries (Wismar, 2009).

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Rostock’s important role is without question, especially due to its importance as the second largest ferry port in the Baltic Sea with connections to Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Baltic States (Rostock Port, 2009). Also note-worthy is the existence of the Rostock University, one of the oldest universities in Germany, founded in 1419 (Universität Rostock, 2009).

With the exception of these three towns, the rest of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is of less interest and importance for regional development, intertwined with the FBR. One reason is the missing urbanisation grade of the state in terms of urban centres. Another one is the distance to the FBB of more than 220 km from Rostock. Hence, it is out of reach, especially for those who want to visit this region from Denmark. For them it is quicker to take the ferry from Gedser to Rostock. Consequently, the eastern part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has to be withdrawn from the FBR II, even though the region has high tourist potential and the capital of Germany in its catchment area. Overall, FBR II encompasses in total around 8.5 million residents within a total surface area of 38100 km².

Finally, there will be a third region FBR III, which to delineate is very difficult. This last territory contains for the most part many important western European metropolises, from London, via Paris, Amsterdam, and the FBR II through to Gothenburg, Stockholm and Oslo. FBR III will embody the change in the European urban system, which will be carried out by the FBB. This will have probably got the unique potential to create one of the biggest and most important knowledge economic areas in the world.

As you will see in Chapter 3, the opening of the Channel tunnel had potent effects on Europe and added value to the related infrastructure. Yet, those effects have been rather positive for the manufacturing industry, while services and tourism had stated some marginal effects (Snickars & Lundqvist, 2001).

One explanation for this cause might be the fact, that the Channel tunnel was linking the “Blue Banana”, thus concentrating on the production intensive industries of the second sector. In the case of the FBB, this link is going to connect to a greater degree service oriented industries with a distinct tendency into knowledge economy.

Furthermore the construction of the Channel tunnel can be seen as the first step facilitating the creation of an interconnected European knowledge center.

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1.3. Methodology

Writing a thesis about a project that will be completed in nearly ten years is always a balancing act, because everything that was written about it or has been investigated is quite speculative. Nonetheless, it is important to get a broad overview regarding this project with the help of already existing literature. This secondary data used here, was in this case mainly compiled either by related companies themselves or by commissioned researchers and consultants. Primary data was generated mainly through direct face-to-face contacts, both in conferences and in meetings. People of interest have been employees at the company, involving researchers and politicians from both countries who came together to determine future implementation of programmes and policies. Primary data in the form of a questionnaire was in this case not feasible, because of the far-reaching impacts and the uncountable number of responsible partners. Instances that allowed taking conclusions from the past have been comparative studies of similar projects. They supported this thesis with additional information about mistakes that should be avoided and what kind of policies have proven to be best.

All this gathered information helped to build up a theoretical framework, which allowed analysing the FBR in various aspects. Chapter two focuses on possible impacts on the European Urban System, while Chapter three explains what kind of regional development is needed within the FBR. The chapter about cross-border cooperation shows up the potential, which can be reached through a better-aligned cross-border policy.

Finally, chapters five and six concentrate on two most promising aspects of future economic development in the FBR. Based on illustrations of already existing economic conditions, these chapters try to show up which industries should be fostered to achieve the best development in the FBR.

2. European Urban System

This part about the European Urban System examines how far the FBB will influence the position of the FBR. For that reason, comparative studies of similar projects have been used to point out what kind of impacts such constructions can have, on the European Urban System, which have changed within the third millennium. More than ever aspects like security, jobs, living situation, culture, leisure behaviour, and sustainability a.s.o. are determining factors of an urban analysis. Urban areas are not longer considered just in ecological terms of a cost-benefit point of view. They are more propelled by fundamental changes in technology, social values, demography and politics, which have diverse and continuing influences on urban growth. A good indicator is the transition from industrialisation towards the rise of the service and transport sectors and accompanied with this the increased importance of the “living environment”. This transition initiated future urban development through new innovations and societal demographic changes, which leads to the incurrence of the knowledge intensive society. More than ever, this evolution is the most fundamental trend, which is confronting major European cities. The European integration process and the augmentation of the European Union towards the east have significantly intensified this. The future of these urban entities and thus of the European Urban System depends on their capability to adopt and accommodate those changes (van den Berg, 1999).

In a Europe of growth and decline, it is important to build on networks and strategies, which result in synergies. Access to more specialisation and co-operation will consequently bring about new specialisation (Wichmann-Matthiessen, 1999, 2000). These facts will be of particular importance to international companies, which want to set up new facilities. If these networks can guarantee a highly qualified labour force, the advantages will be in the northern countries (Schmitt et al., 2008).

[illustration not visible in this excerpt]To backup these conditions, it is inevitable to improve the position of the northern European metropolis in the hierarchy of metropolitan Europe (Wichmann-Matthiessen, 1999). The most obvious scenario is to create a new interplay, especially between Copenhagen and Hamburg. Both metropolitan areas and the regions in between (FBR II) can together attain position five among the large urban agglomerations in Europe, with a total population of 8.5 million residents. The gross domestic product, which illustrates economic performance, exceeds together that of the Randstad (Amsterdam-The Hague-Rotterdam-Utrecht) and achieves position four, behind the Ruhr area, Paris and London. In addition, the air-traffic, which can be seen as an indicator for high-quality accessibility, estimates at almost 16 million passengers and reaches position five, just before Zurich airport. Perhaps the most important is the scientific output potential of the FBR II region. Right now, South Scandinavia, especially the concentration around Copenhagen/ Malmö/ Lund is the fifth biggest research centre in Europe (Wichmann-Matthiessen, 2000). This position will be enlarged through the opening of the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund (ESSS, 2009) and might be even more expanded

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through a deeper cooperation between research centres in south Scandinavia and northern Germany.

In this entire procedure, the FBB plays a vital role. It cannot only act as an event; it can rather be the interface between the central European Pentagon (Schmitt et al., 2008) and the Scandinavian Star (see Fig. 4).

illustration not visible in this excerpt]As Snickars and Lundqvist (2001) have reasoned, the sounds around the Danish Islands form the most important barriers to communication in Western Europe. Together with the English Channel and the Alps, the sounds are the last big natural barrier in the modern European Union. The first has already been solved through the opening of the Euro tunnel between England and France in 1994, the second, the NEAT[1] will be solved towards the end of

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2017 and will result in a striking improvement of travel and transport possibilities in Europe (AlpTransit, 2009). Ultimately, it will be the FBB, which will be the last link to remedy these shortcomings in Europe.

In the first step of raising the hierarchy, the Øresundbridge has reduced the distance, in terms of travelling time that has separated Scandinavia from the European continent (see A and B in Fig. 5).


[1] Neue Eisenbahn Alpen Transversale – New railway alps transversal


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Institution / College
Erasmus University Rotterdam – European Institute for Comparative Urban Research (EURICUR)
Fehmarnbelt Region Fixed Fehmarnbelt Link Regional Development Knowledge Economy Life Science Tourism Economy Cross-border Cooperation European Urban System Hamburg Copenhagen/ Kopenhagen Denmark/ Dänemark Germany/ Deutschland



Title: Regional Opportunities of the Fehmarn Belt Link