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3rd Regional Workshop on improved accessibility along the North Sea- Baltic Corridor held in Riga


The 3rd Regional Workshop of the NSB CoRe project on improved accessibility along the North Sea-Baltic Corridor took place in Riga on April 4, 2017. Local, regional and national authorities on spatial and transport planning were invited to join the discussion, and contribute towards identification of strengths, opportunities, main obstacles and risks, which should be addressed during elaboration of the joint spatial vision of the NSB CoRe corridor. The spatial vision is being developed by VASAB secretariat and will be one of the outputs of the NSB CoRe project.

The focus of the 3rd Regional Workshop was on the Central Baltic part of the NSB CoRe corridor where the ongoing planning of the Rail Baltica railway line plays important role in spatial development. More than 40 stakeholders from the Baltic countries as well as Finland, Germany, Poland, and several international organisations shared their views and ideas on the current state and necessary future improvements in the transport infrastructure and connections of the region.

In the first part of the event experts who have participated in Rail Baltica spatial planning process gave short introduction. Corridor alignment and challenges to plan it in Lithuania were presented by Mantas Kaušylas, Deputy Director of JSC "Rail Baltica statyba" who has participated in the elaboration process of spatial plan for Rail Baltica in Lithuania. In Estonia Rail Baltica was planned on a county level so Kaarel Kose, adviser at Harju County Government shared Estonian perspective and challenges of integrating Rail Baltica in the spatial plans.

After the introduction, all the participants were divided into 4 groups and discussed different aspects of SWOT in an improvised World Cafe manner. During more than hour spent in intense discussions countless issues were marked out.  The already existing collaboration between Baltic States, high demand for fast connections as well as existence of many pan-Baltic companies was mentioned as the strength of the corridor. Population disparities in the Baltics were mentioned to potentially affect demand for new transport connections. More attention has to be paid to the connections with secondary level networks and last mile solutions, opportunity to create a joint, liveable transport corridor (Via Baltica + Rail Baltica). Participants expressed wish of having more functional and cross-border planning thinking rather than narrowly focusing within administrative borders, with more harmonization of neighbouring national transport policies. If joint planning will also be missing among different transport modes and Rail Baltica won`t be integrated with further connection from Kaunas to Warsaw, it may threaten the success of corridor. 

It was emphasized that development of North Sea-Baltic corridor, including constructing of Rail Baltica would provide an opportunity to build a larger market, triple the business scale and create new infrastructure such as infrastructure centres and passenger hubs. If St. Petersburg would be involved in the joint network, it may provide the critical mass of people. Elaboration of spatial vision for NSB CoRe corridor could become an opportunity to develop a new spatial planning approach and change perception of Poland and Baltic States. Full summary of SWOT analysis can be found here.

Knowledge gained in three workshops, together with the desk research on spatial planning documents in the corridor area will serve as a basis for a SWOT analysis of NSB CoRe corridor. It will be complemented by interviews with spatial and transport planners to form spatial vision for NSB CoRe corridor. First draft of SWOT analysis will be presented in 8th EUSBSR Annual Forum in Berlin on 13-14 June 2017. The finalised spatial vision of the NSB CoRe corridor will be delivered to the VASAB Ministerial Conference in 2019 and will serve as input to national and regional development planning documents.

The workshop was one of the events in the series of regional workshops organised to collect the views of the stakeholders. Following events are still to be held:

  • Meeting in autumn 2017 for German and Polish stakeholders
  • Meeting in winter 2017 for Polish and Baltic States stakeholders
  • Workshop in Sweden, March 2018 to discuss the first draft of the joint transnational spatial vision on regional development, logistics and mobility of NSB CoRe corridor.


NSB CoRe project by Sakari Saarinen, Project Manager, NSB CoRe, Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council

Joint transnational spatial vision on regional development, logistics and mobility  by Liene Stikane, Spatial Planner, VASAB Secretariat

Rail Baltica spatial planning issues and lessons to learn in Lithuania by Mantas Kaušylas, Deputy Director of JSC "Rail Baltica statyba"

Spatial planning of Rail Baltic in Estonia  by Kaarel Kose, adviser at Harju County Government

SWOT analysis of the Northern part of NSB CoRe corridor

Information was prepared by Liene Stikane, Spatial planner for NSB CoRe at VASAB Secretariat (liene.stikane@vasab.org)

NSB CoRe: North Sea-Baltic Connector of Regions project is financed by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme and will last from 2016 to 2019. NSB CoRe is labelled EUSBSR flagship project.

VASAB (Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea) is co-operation of Ministers responsible for spatial planning and development in 11 countries of the Baltic Sea Region. VASAB Secretariat is responsible for the Work Package 4 “Spatial planning for NSB CoRe Network Development”

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