What labour market effects can we expect of the improved transportation system after the Fixed Fehmarn link?
This question was one the Green STRING Corridor project asked the global consultancy firm COWI to answer in their study Regional labour market effects of an improved transportation system. Poul Sørensen from COWI gave some insights into his thoughts on the report.

"What actually surprised me working on the report was rather commonplace. But it was surprising exactly how close Hamburg is to Scandinavia. One has the tendency to think of Hamburg as situated rather more south in Germany than it's true geographical location. And with the Fehmarn Fixed Link Hamburg is considerably closer giving Denmark a new large metropolis very close by", Poul Sørensen shared with us, during the sneak preview of the report.


A new geography

The new geography will definitely bring Hamburg to the equivalent of Rødby Ferry Harbour on Lolland in travelling time from Copenhagen and Berlin to the equivalent of Lübeck. From the German perspective Copenhagen will be equivalent to travelling to Rødby Ferry Harbour and Gothenburg will move to just north of Malmö. What does that mean for the potential labour catchment area in the region?


The answer is that, firstly, commuting is a main driver on the labour market. The general effects of globalisation and the increased specialisation of the labour market mean that employees travel longer distances to find employment. Reversely, businesses have to recruit qualified labour from an increasingly larger area.

Previous research projects points out that commuting, and especially long distance commuting, is a rather common feature among specialised labour. That often being people with higher education and a relatively high income. These groups weigh out the advantages of loner commuting in by higher wages and interesting jobs compared to the drawbacks of commuting in time and costs. The exceptions from these general indications are construction workers and other specialists who often commute over long distances on a weekly basis. The expectation is that this will be prevalent during the construction of the Fehmarn Fixed Link.


The commuting analysis in this report points out that there will be minor effects of the improved transportation system in the corridor from Öresund to Hamburg. The main reasons are the demographic conditions on both sides of the Belt. On both sides of the Fehmarn Belt the population density is relatively low and combined with the relative low level of formal education and income, the general assumption is that a high growth in commuting is not very likely, considered from the known commuting patterns of today.
Maribo for the win


For the communities close to the Fehmarn Belt, however, the relative impact will be quite significant. For companies near the Belt, the possibilities of attracting key personnel will increase and give these companies a new competitive factor. There might be special sectors where these factors can play quite a big role, e.g. the construction sector, health care but also key industrial sectors. The relative catchment area for Maribo within an hour of commuting will increase by 47 % after the tunnel opens - from 156,000 persons to 229,000. Within two hours the increase will be 107 % - from 2,014.000 to 4,172.000. This indicates that a company in Maribo will have massively increased possibilities for recruiting staff in the future. Of course still under the condition that people with the right skills are available on the other side of the border.



Graphics: Green STRING Corridor/COWI

Given benefit for the metropolises

In the long term the metropolitan areas in Öresund (Copenhagen and Malmö) and Hamburg will have the potentials to develop a stronger connection within labour market and education. The economic potential in the metropolitan areas are so strong that the relatively long distances - even after the opening of the fixed link - are expected to be overcome by the demand for experts, researchers and knowledge in the two metropolitan areas. Not for daily commuting, but probably for increased commuting for example on a weekly basis by long distance work and other new commuting patterns.


As Poul Sørensen pointed out, this is a very different connection than the Öresund Bridge:
"We know from experience with these large infrastructure investments connecting larger metropolitan areas: They will create growth. But this is a very different situation. It is a connection between two peripheral areas, as we have come to call them in Denmark. Both Lolland-Falster and Ost-Holstein are sparsely populated areas. In Denmark at least we are aware that both educational level and income level are under the Danish national average. But we can see that the pattern is the same on the German side. So even if the German economy is strong, Germany still has so called peripheral areas - and this is one of those areas. A fixed link to Germany is not a quick fix cash injection."


"We know that the forces in the metropolitan areas are so strong that their potentials will be realised. The target is to forestall the barriers - the linguistic, economical and cultural barriers. Especially in the communities by the tunnel's entrance and exit."

By Anine Asklund