In BDF we realize that the success of investing in the necessary big cross border infrastructure projects on the Top of Europe is very much dependent on success of Europe in general. The Baltic Sea Region can do a lot on its own to become a winner region – and can in fact be proud of its achievement over the past 20 years – but that doesn´t exclude strong connections between South-North and West-East. We all share the view that sustainable economic growth and competitiveness needs to be high on the common agenda.
By 2011, Baltic Development Forum had organized its Summits in all the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea. As new chairman of BDF, I am pleased to begin the new tour around the Baltic Sea starting from Copenhagen, Denmark.
I am very pleased to work closely together with the European Commission, DG Regio and to organise again the Summit together with the Annual Forum of the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. We will do our best to gather as many stakeholders as we did last year. We are also privileged have the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union as a partner.
Furthermore, BDF is very pleased to work together with the Region Zealand and Capital Region of Denmark who have very close connections with their neighbouring counterparts in Sweden and Germany. Danish regions know how important infrastructure developments, bridges and fixed links can be for improving the economy and the competitiveness. The Oresund Bridge has demonstrated the immense impact on the economic performance in the Danish and Swedish region of Oresund. Similarly, the Fehmarn belt fixed link will reduce the distance between Scandinavia and important markets in Germany, not least in Hamburg.
Therefore, I find that the title of this year’s conference captures the importance of infrastructure developments for good neighbouring relations, regional dynamism and the need for wider European co-operation. We need to invest in big cross-border projects in order to improve the attractiveness of the Top of Europe. Many projects have been discussed such as Rail Baltica, Via Baltica, Motorways of the Sea, Baltic Rings in the field of gas, electricity and ICT and not to forget the science and university links. But can we push such projects further? Have we done our homework?
Finally, I am glad that special initiatives are taken to improve match-making and connections between companies, SMEs and entrepreneurs. The Baltic Business Arena that takes place in parallel to the conference will improve the business dimension which is essential for successful economic development. This should be part of the next tour around the Baltic Sea. I hope you will jump on board in Copenhagen.
Hans Skov Christensen,
Chairman, Baltic Development Forum