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Strong benefits from a fixed Fehmarnbelt link
The fixed link across the Fehmarnbelt between Denmark and Germany is one of the world's system-changing mega projects. The change to infastructure and accessibility generated by the link has the potential for creating a new economic, cultural and social development in the regions and countries surrounding the link. The future benefits are considerable.
This is the conclusion from a new scientific study of the regional effects of the fixed link.
New infrastructure of this magnitude has always caused major change, the book states. New relationships will arise and create the basis for new trade, tourism, jobs and lifestyle choice. This is bound to have a profound impact on the communities surrounding the link - both with regard to the neighbouring areas of Southern Zealand, Lolland, Falster and East Holstein and further afield, i.e. between Copenhagen, Malmö and Lund (the Øresund City) and Hamburg. The major Northern German cities of Kiel, Lübeck and Rostock are also set to gain from the new regional development perspectives.
The report also points out that the local labour market around the link as well as weekly commuting between Copenhagen and Hamburg will see rapid development following the opening of the link. There is currently little commuting, but the improvements to the infra-structure and the cuts in travelling time will prompt new commuting patterns. Commuters are important for the region's development in that they are carriers of social and cultural contacts which, in turn, is a pre-requisite for partnerships. Thus they engender economic and human value in the border area. All in all, we expect to see a trend towards an inte-grated Copenhagen-Hamburg corridor under which property prices will rise and where new localisation patterns will materialise. One result, for instance, will be that the plans for a new transport centre near the Fehmarnbelt will become more realistic.
Since economic growth is concentrated on the world's centres, the international major cities and regional hierarchy play a role in the assessment of opportunities for investment, development and growth. The Fehmarnbelt Region has no world cities - in fact the region's two metropolises, Copenhagen and Hamburg, are in the second division measured by population and economic power. However, if the two cities can establish partnerships, which will link their economies and development together - in close interaction with the major Northern German cities - this urban system will join the world centres' first division in line with Amsterdam, Milan, Brussels and Singapore. With stronger contacts and alliances, the entire corridor's international competitiveness will be enhanced.
Culture is the glue that can cement the growth process together, the book's section on cultural collaboration states. It points to a number of cultural meetings that can already be set in motion with a view to disseminating knowledge, promoting understanding and creating contacts. However, the authors warn against tying culture to a political project by attempting to create a common sense of identity across a large region of 10 million. This would be unpopular, difficult and unnecessary.