New Developments in the Oresund Region

Article excerpt

Combining two countries with different (but similar) languages, cultures and mentalities might seem difficult, but in the region formed by the Danish island of Sjaelland and the Swedish province of Scania, Danes and Swedes understand each other. The people who live in the Oresund Region (named after the inlet between the two countries) strongly believe it will develop into one of Europe's most desirable locales, both for investors and inhabitants.

Its more than three million residents welcome the reestablishment of their historic connection, severed 350 years ago after Denmark lost Scania to the Swedes. Today the people of this region feel challenged to overcome their linguistic and cultural differences to find each other again.

The Oresund Region is the location of Denmark's largest city and capital, Copenhagen, and Sweden's third largest city, Malmo, so it has great potential for development. The countryside is easily accessible: Forests, open fields and long beaches are nearby. The region's 11 universities collectively serve more than 120,000 students to form Oresund University, an entity that allows students enrolled in any one of the 11 universities to take courses at the others. Similarly, researchers are at liberty to seek project partners across the whole university network. A full 60% of Scandinavia's highly developed medical sector is concentrated in this region, which is also the site of Copenhagen airport, a notable example of modern Scandinavia's excellence in architectural design.

A Bridge Between Two Countries

In July of 2000 the combined bridge-and-tunnel between Copenhagen and Malmo will be completed. It will be the first bridge ever built between the two countries. Supported by other significant investments in infrastructure (such as subways and railways) the Oresund link will open enormous opportunities for Sjaelland and Scania, propelling the combined area into a new league of European regions, with high expectations for a prosperous future. The population of the region will enjoy all the diversity and choice of a metropolis, without having to deal with the negative aspects of 20th century urban growth.

Local businesses will benefit from the larger platform for development, while international ones will profit from the opportunity to concentrate their Nordic operations in one place. In terms of trade and recruitment, both will gain the advantage of a larger market. The numerous educational and research institutions in the region will join the growing R&D network that stimulates cooperation between science and technology on the one hand, and industry and the applied arts on the other. Visitors to the Oresund region will have easier access to a more varied mix of cultural and natural surroundings, while those who wish to settle in the region will benefit from the investments in infrastructure, education and society in general.

The Oresund Committee

Local politicians convened to form the Oresund Committee, which has been working toward positive economic, environmental, cultural and social goals since the autumn of 1993. The Committee provides a meeting place and platform for establishing cooperative projects between regional organizations, companies and individuals. The Oresund Committee also initiates and runs its own projects, both independently and in partnership with member organizations, tourist organizations and the universities. The Committee's role as a policycreating organization has been most visible in dealing with public transportation, environmental issues and the joint labor market.

A Common Labor Market

The prime ministers of Denmark and Sweden have spoken positively about the conditions for the Oresund Region rapidly developing into a joint labor market. In conjunction with the Chairman of the Oresund Committee, they sent a letter of intent to the European Commission, proposing the Oresund region as a model for increased employment in Europe. …