Exploring the Northern Dimension

Emerging Euro-Asian land and Arctic maritime trade routes open new business opportunities

The Northern Dimension Institute (NDI) organized the Northern Dimension Future Forum on Transport: Emerging trade routes between Europe and Asia – Impacts of China’s Belt and Road Initiative on Northern Europe on 20 November 2018 in Brussels. The event gathered over 60 participants, researchers, decision-makers and leading transport companies to discuss the future developments in land and Arctic maritime connections between Europe and Asia. The event featured two knowledge arenas of brief researcher presentations followed by comments and a moderated discussion. Ms. Cathy Smith from Speak-Easy moderated the event.

Professor Riitta Kosonen, Director of the Center for Markets in Transition, Aalto University, and the Lead Coordinator of the NDI, opened the event with an overview of the role of NDI in the Northern Dimension policy and supporting the work of the four Northern Dimension Partnerships. In November 2018, NDI organizes four Northern Dimension Future Forums in close collaboration with the ND Partnerships focusing on the jointly selected topics and the work is planned to continue through a three-year-project on a Northern Dimension Think Tank.

ND Future Forum on Transport Riitta Kosonen web
Riitta Kosonen, NDI Lead Coordinator

In his welcoming words, Mr. Oddgeir Danielsen, Director of the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL) underlined the need for evidence-based knowledge and better understanding of the opportunities, which the new trade routes between Europe and Asia can offer. In his presentation Mr. Danielsen showed a picture that gave something to think about. According to Mr. Danielsen, within that circle (highlighted in the picture below) is living more people than outside the circle and that is one reason why Belt and Route iniative has gained so much interest.

ND Future Forum on Transport Oddgeir Danielsen web
Oddgeir Danielsen, NDPTL

Mr. Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and Pacific, European External Action Service, European Commission, gave an overview of the EU approach to the potential and challenges of the emerging trade routes between Europe and Asia. In line with the newly launched Euro-Asian connectivity strategy, EU enhances multilateralism, sustainable, comprehensive, long-term and rules-based connectivity to ensure safety and prosperity for societies in Europe and Asia, China and India. EU strongly supports strengthening synergies, transparency and level playing field for companies and the key stakeholders in building cross-border connections and transport, energy, digital and human networks, also with Russia.

ND Future Forum on Transport Gunnar Wiegand web
Gunnar Wiegand, EEAS

Mr. Maxim Ilyukhin, Deputy Head of the Division of the International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, introduced developments underway of the Euro-Asian transport links. The ongoing infrastructure developments aim at modernizing and expanding the mainland infrastructure and interconnection of regions, improving safety, sustainability and reliability in sea, railway and roads by 2024. Capacity and security of seaports are enhanced with transport of containers reduced to seven days. In total, 13 main railway routes are working in between Europe and Asia. Russian satellite system is utilized in developing digital system with additional services for transport, fully automated measurement and data collection system. Russia is open for constructive dialogue and the NDPTL Roadmap would provide possibilities to develop further the international collaboration in transport.

ND Future Forum on Transport Maxim Ilyukhin web
Maxim Ilykhin, Ministry of Transport, Russia

In the Knowledge Arena 1, the presentations focused on land connections between Europe and Asia. Dr. Gerhard Troche, Senior Scientific Researcher – Rail Freight and European Issues / EU Rail Freight Corridors, Royal Institute of Technology KTH, Sweden, gave an overview of the railway links between Europe and Asia, development trends, route options and challenges. In her presentation, Dr. Elena Rovenskaya, Program Director, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis IIASA, Austria, focused on challenges and opportunities of the transportation developments and economic cooperation between the EU, the Eurasian Economic Union, China and other key Asian actors.

Mr. Tero Kosonen from the Finnish national railway company VR Transpoint, introduced the cross-border traffic to Russia and the railway corridor from Finland via Russia to Asia, lessons learnt and future developments. Mr. Ainis Stūrmanis, Vice-president, SJSC Latvian Railways, Latvia, highlighted the Latvian Railway logistic routes and opportunities for developing multimodal routes between Europe and China. Mr. Viktor Golomolzin, Head of the Kaliningrad Railways, JSC Russian Railways, introduced transport and logistics potential and capabilities of the Kaliningrad region including multimodal transit via seaport and railway to China.

In the moderated discussion, commentators, Mr. Risto Murto, Development Manager from the Finnish Transport Agency and Ms. Merja Kyllönen, Member of European Parliament, pointed out that increasing trade volumes and infrastructure developments increase interest in railroad transport between Europe and China. This creates needs for new services, better knowledge and information, inclusion of all the key stakeholders in further developments.

In the Knowledge Arena 2, the speakers focused on highlighting Arctic Maritime Connections. Associate Professor Bjørn Gunnarsson from the Centre for High North Logistics (CHNL) at Nord University Business School, Bodø, Norway, introduced ship traffic analysis on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) until 2017 and developments in the transport and logistics system. Project Manager Piia Heliste from the Aalto University gave an outlook to the business views about the shipping in the NSR. According to the companies and experts, key incentives for using the NSR are connected to the time and fuel savings. Future role of the NSR as an international transit route depends on factors such as natural conditions, infrastructure developments, additional costs of the Arctic shipping, and the overall unpredictability of the route.

Mr. Leonid Irlitsa, captain of nuclear icebreaker of the Rosatomflot, introduced developments of the Russian atomic icebreaking fleet for support of Arctic navigation. General Manager Mr. Carsten Andersen from the Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S, Denmark highlighted experiences from the NSR as one of the first companies to open the NSR for commercial purposes on dry cargo vessels since 2010. Mr. Hafsteinn Helgason, Business Development and R&D Director from the EFLA Consulting Engineers, Iceland, introduced the Finnafjord public-private-partnership project in large transport infrastructure development in Iceland.

In the moderated discussion, Ms. Marie-Anne Coninsx, Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs of the European Union, underlined the increasing economic interests in the Arctic. This has impact on global shipping industry as well as political relations with Russia and China. The challenge in the Arctic is to balance between the economic possibilities and environmental sustainability. Ms. Magda Kopczynska, Director, DG for Mobility and Transport, pointed out that the IMO International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) provides legal framework for international collaboration to ensure sustainability in the Arctic shipping. According to Ms. Tone Cecilia Lang, Councellor, Mission of Norway to the European Union, 80 % of the Arctic shipping passes Norwegian waters. In the maritime strategies, Norway prioritizes maritime safety and rescue services as well as environmental sustainability.

ND Future Forum on Transport second knowledge arena web
Knowledge Arena 2, Cathy Smith, Carsten Andersen, Leonid Irlitsa, Hafsteinn Helgason, Bjørn Gunnarsson, Piia Heliste, Marie-Anne Coninsx, Magda Kopczynska and Tone Cecilia Lang

The event was organized by the Northern Dimension Institute together with the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics and financed by the European Commission/DG NEAR and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
The Northern Dimension Institute is a an open university network, which is coordinated by the Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, as the Lead Coordinator in cooperation with the Northern (Arctic) Federal University and the St Petersburg State University of Economics in Russia.

Programme of the event can be found here (pdf).

Webcasts from the ND Future Forum on Transport and the ND Future Forum on Environment are available below:

The webcast is available until 20 May 2019.

Presentations made in the forum are available below (pdfs).

Opening presentation, Mr. Oddgeir Danielsen, Director, Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics
Perspective Development of Euro-Asian Transport Links, Mr. Maxim Ilyukhin, Deputy Head of the Division of the International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, Russia

Knowledge Arena 1: Land connections between Europe and Asia
Transit Potential of Kaliningrad Railway, Mr. Victor Golomolzin, Head of the Kaliningrad Railways, JSC Russian Railways, Russia
Railway links between Europe and Asia, Dr. Gerhard Troche, Senior Scientific Researcher – Rail Freight and European Issues / EU Rail Freight Corridors, Royal Institute of Technology KTH, Sweden
Challenges and Opportunities of the Transportation Developments and Economic Integration Processes in the Greater Eurasia, Dr. Elena Rovenskaya, Program Director, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis IIASA, Austria
Railway Corridor Finland-Asia, Mr. Tero Kosonen, Director Sales & Marketing, VR Transpoint, Finland
Asia from/ to Europe railway network – shorten the distance. The new Silk route – opportunities for European railway network, Mr. Ainis Stūrmanis, Vice-president, SJSC Latvian Railways, Latvia

Knowledge Arena 2: Arctic Maritime Connections
Ship Traffic Analysis on the NSR and development of the NSR’s Transport and Logistics System, Mr. Bjørn Gunnarsson, Associate Professor, Centre for High North Logistics (CHNL) at Nord University Business School, Bodø, Norway
Business views on the Northern Sea Route, Ms. Piia Heliste, Project Manager, Aalto University, Finland
Atomic icebreaking fleet development for support of Arctic navigation, Mr. Leonid Irlitsa, Captain of nuclear icebreaker, Rosatomflot, Russia
Experiences from the Northern Sea Route, Mr. Carsten Andersen, General Manager, Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S, Denmark
Public-private-partnerships in large infrastructure projects: Case Finna Fjord, Mr. Hafsteinn Helgason, Business Development and R&D Director, EFLA Consulting Engineers, Iceland

Tags: Transport & Logistics

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