The Connection between Europe and the Arctic

North Sweden European Office organized, together with the North Norway European Office, a seminar on 'NDPTL - The Connection between Europe and the Arctic' November 30, 2015.The aim of the seminar was to highlight the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL) as an important link between Europe and the Arctic.

Mona Mansour, Senior Adviser, North Sweden European Office

North Sweden European Office and the North Norway European Office invited key people from the EU institutions, ministries, and politicians from the regions, as well as major players from the transport and logistics sector, for a discussion of NDPTL and its continued existence as an important link between Europe and the Arctic.

The seminar was held in Oslo on Monday, 30th November, the day before a ministerial meeting at which NDPTL partner countries and the European Commission discussed the future of the partnership.

NDPTL is a partnership between the European Commission and the EU Member States, and Norway, Russia and Belarus. The partnership launched in February 2009 as one of four partnerships under the initiative of the Northern Dimension. NDPTL establishes common priorities for co-financing of projects aimed at removing bottlenecks, particularly at border crossings. A priority in NDPTL is to complement TEN-T and guide the future extension of TEN-T.

NDPTL is an important instrument, and the only existing one at present which extends over all the initiatives and strategies in the Baltic Sea area such as BEATA, BEAC, the Baltic Sea Strategy and the Arctic strategy, from which the European Commission is expected to publish a Communication on the Arctic in early in 2016.

We see great potential for NDPTL; its role as a coherent regional forum for transport and logistics issues and as a catalyst to attract finance for project implementation is important and should be further developed. One of the main obstacles to growth in the region is bottlenecks in transport infrastructure; and investment opportunities in the North are crucial for unlocking the potential of our resource-rich areas of Europe.

Paal Iversen from the Department of Transportation in Norway opened the conference with a speech and expressed their appreciation for this seminar, the first of its kind to have taken place as a discussion forum for transport and logistics issues in the Northern Dimension, which collected actors at EU, national and regional level. High North is a priority for the Norwegian government's budget. The two major challenges on the agenda of the ministerial meeting are the importance of a well-functioning secretariat and more resources to support the Partnership. Norway has high ambitions for NDPTL and it is Norway's entry into the negotiations on December 1; to strengthen the partnership and its institutional structures. NDPTL will otherwise risk losing relevance.

Paal Iversen, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Transport, Norway

Jens Nilsson addressed the refugee situation, the issue that tops the agenda in the EU, and highlighted on current issues in the transport committee in the European Parliament; among other things, a package to tackle social dumping and an air strategy, both of which will be published shortly. Jens described his work as the initiator of the NSPA network and mentioned visibility as a major challenge for the sparsely-populated northern regions, and noted the importance of active lobbying on national level.

Niklas Nordström highlighted in his speech the importance of efficient and reliable transportation for our resource-rich regions. Niklas emphasized that despite a limited budget, NDPTL has still made a crucial contribution; the port of Luleå has recently been awarded EUR 777.000 in funding from the NDPTL for the project Malmporten that will build on the results of the recently completed TEN-T project. This will bring the Malmporten global project involving dredging a step closer to realization. We need to increase investment in the European Arctic; for example, NDPTL can be used to capitalize on the results of completed TEN-T projects and also as a facilitator to prepare CEF applications. NDPTL plays an important role in bridging the TEN-T with the infrastructure network in neighbouring countries, and for the future, better relationships and better communication.

Martti Hahl, president of the Barents Centre Finland, presented the report that Paavo Lipponen, Finland's former Prime Minister, submitted to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker on the Arctic and the Northern Dimension and stressed the importance of expanding the NDPTL-maps with the BEATA-maps.

Vladislav Kurbatskiy, f First Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, made a presentation on planned and current Russian initiative on port infrastructure in the NDPTL area in Russia, and investments in the Ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. Kurbatskiy stressed that NDPTL can play an important role as a forum for discussions and investments.

The seminar was divided into 3 sessions:

  1. Political perspective of transport infrastructure in the European Arctic - speeches from Jens Nilsson, Member of Parliament (Social Democratic Party), Niklas Nordström (S), Mayor of Luleå, Paal Iversen, Senior Adviser, Department of Transport Norway, and Geir Ove Bakken, Chairman of the Culture and Transport Committee, Finnmark region.
  2. NDPTL implementation - NDPTL's fund, operational during 2013-2015 has allocated financing to 10 projects, 3 of which were presented at the seminar: Narvik Port, the Port of Luleå and New terminals in the Ports of Umeå and Vaasa.
  3. Other initiatives - presentations of current and planned activities in the area, i.e. TEN-T and the Bothnian Corridor, BEATA and the Arctic Corridor, and the challenges and opportunities in the NSPA cooperation.

The seminar attracted a total of some 30 participants and many key players from Norrbotten and Västerbotten.

The speakers presentations can be downloaded from the links below: 

Henrik Vuorinen

Isabella Forsgren

Joakim Berglund

Martti Hahl

Timo Lohi

Rune Johan Arnöy

Read the article in swedish here

/Mona Mansour

North Sweden in the EU

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