Mayor Stjernfeldt Jammeh,
Esteemed partners of the Fehmarnbelt region,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As the First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, it is a pleasure for me to welcome all of you to Hamburg – and particularly to the Fehmarnbelt Days in this stimulating location, the HafenCity University.
This is the third time the Fehmarnbelt Days are being celebrated, and we have numerous reasons to refer to the saying: “All good things come in threes!”
Let me point out, for example, that this is the third time the event is taking place for three days. For the networking dinner to follow, we have engaged three caterers, who have planned a three course buffet menu. Also involved in the Senate reception are three schools. And three school classes of the German-Danish Christianeum have put together an art exhibition, which you will be able to see upstairs on your way to the seminar rooms.
The Fehmarnbelt Days will mainly take place at three venues: the HafenCity University, as the main conference location, the entrance to the Town Hall, where you are invited to an exhibition centring around the urban development of Hamburg and Copenhagen, and, last but not least, the inner courtyard of the Town Hall with the event entitled “Handwerkswelten,” focusing on international aspects of vocational training.
But the most important “three” in this series of good things are definitely the three countries involved in this event: Denmark, Sweden and Germany. By the way, both the organisational setup and the main activity partners represent the so-called triple helix: politics, economics and science.
This afternoon, my dear colleague, our Second Mayor Katharina Fegebank, has already pointed out the importance of the Science Corridor between the European Spallation Source, currently under construction, and European XFEL, to open in 2017. This Science Corridor is unique at the global level and makes our area a pioneering region in materials science – that is based on the fruitful cooperation between research centres that include our “DESY” and “MAX IV” in Lund.
In this context, I would like to thank the Skåne region, which has chaired STRING over the last year. It has now been more than 15 years since Hamburg massively focused on strengthening the historic ties with our closest neighbours in Denmark and Sweden. By now, the STRING region has the potential to become one of the world's leading regions for science.
But we do not want to only talk about the success of large-scale transnational research projects. Size matters in many ways. It matters in terms of global visibility, the number of consumers, a qualified workforce, the ability to innovate, and cluster policies.
5.1 million inhabitants in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region is certainly a decent size, 1% of the EU population. True, on a global scale, this number is small in terms of critical mass or the ability to innovate. Just the same, two strong regions – with some 10 million people and a growing number of ties involving clusters, business and joint research – are impressive even on a global scale. From the perspective of China or the U.S.A., the western Baltic is considered to be a single region anyway.
We are well aware of this fact and are developing infrastructure both within the Fehmarnbelt region and beyond. In this respect, I especially look forward to working closely with Malmö’s Mayor, Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, in deepening the cooperation between our two cities and our metropolitan regions.
Of course, I also have to mention the new high speed railroad in Sweden in this context. The future railroad tracks will run from Stockholm to Malmö as well as from Stockholm to Gothenburg. We hope to have the high speed connection to Stockholm completed, at the latest, when the fixed link is finished, so that we can take advantage of the momentum straight away.
As we all know, the Fehmarnbelt Days are not “just about the tunnel.” They are about the people and about growing closer to each other. They provide an overarching possibility to tap the full potential of our joint region. Here and now, we all have an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships. And this is why we are providing a platform where all stakeholders can exchange ideas and experiences.
The Fehmarnbelt tunnel will facilitate our joint development, but cooperation of all kinds already exists. For example, take the event called “Handwerkswelten” – “Craft Worlds” – which is taking place parallel to the Fehmarnbelt Days 2016 today and tomorrow in the courtyard of our Town Hall. Perhaps some of you have already been there and know what it is about: It provides an opportunity for students to familiarise themselves with different practical trades and crafts and to get advice about training opportunities in the whole Fehmarnbelt Region. This is one small but visible example of how we support cross-border vocational education.
The “Handwerkswelten” enable the city to demonstrate a typically German strength: dual education or vocational training. This educational system combines attendance at a, mostly state-run, school with vocational training in various companies. To a great extent, this dual education is thus supported by industry, merchants and craftsmen. They all invest in their company by helping to train their future employees. This principle has now also been expanded to include universities.
This dual education is one of the reasons for the economic success our country enjoys. Numerous scientific studies confirm this. We are very pleased that we have found a partner for the “Handwerkswelten” – Denmark – which follows similar approaches, so that both sides can learn from one another.
A transnational vocational training curriculum in cooperation with the corsortia building the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link is intended in the future. There are also different INTERREG projects that involve transnational education, such as STARforCE or the Fehmarnbelt Training office. Please make sure that the young people in your circle of friends and acquaintances know about all of this.
For now, we will continue with our reception, including a delicious dinner, arranged by two state vocational schools and the “Studierendenwerk”. I know your dinner is in very capable hands. During the meal, the “Big Band” of the Gymnasium Blankenese will give your ears a special treat with a diverse musical program. I’m sure you will recognise several pieces.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am proud to represent this beautiful city and to host this significant event over the next few days, together with our partners. We are very happy that the Fehmarnbelt committee (FBC), the Fehmarnbelt Business Council (FBBC), Femern A/S and STRING agreed on Hamburg as the host city for the third Fehmarnbelt Days. Thank you very much. And thanks, too, to all of the activity partners, sponsors and exhibitors involved in making these days a success.
I look forward to sharing thought-provoking and stimulating conversations with you, both tonight and over the coming days. Again, welcome to Hamburg – and have a wonderful evening!