Case Competition: The effect of the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel on Danish-German trade

How much will the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel impact the trade between Denmark and Northern Germany? Master’s degree students from Public Policy at Aarhus BSS have helped the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce find an answer.

Lagrange Consulting Group consisting of Tjalfe Bang Johannesen, Michael Gadegaard Espersen, Olivia Katharina Friberg and Christine Højsted Ankjær Photo: Elena Mattana

The Fehmarnbelt Tunnel. An 18 kilometre tunnel between Lolland and Northern Germany that can reduce the time spent on transportation between Copenhagen and Hamburg with hours. What will it mean for the trade relations between the two cities when the tunnel is ready in 2029? Students from Public Policy at Aarhus BSS have examined this question at the request of the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce.

“Studies that support your message lend greater impact to your communication. You might expect a financial correlation between the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel and an increase in trade, but now students have calculated the effect, and this is something we can use and pass on to the companies we advise,” says managing director Reiner Perau from the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce.

Reiner Perau participated via Zoom when the winners of this year’s Applied Public Policy Case Competition were named at the end of the semester. The winners were Lagrange Consulting Group consisting of Michael Gadegaard Espersen, Christine Højsted Ankjær, Tjalfe Bang Johannesen and Olivia Katharina Friberg, who are all Master’s degree students in Public Policy. 

During the past months, they have acted as consultants for the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce as part of the teaching in Applied Public Policy. Here, they have estimated how the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel will impact the costs as well as intensity of transport for Danish-German trade relations. This has resulted in a reference work of 14 different industrial sectors, including an estimate of how large an increase in exports each sector can expect.

“I have to say that I am pretty impressed by what the students have done. It is great work, it is relevant, and it is presented well. It could help us communicate the need to prepare for increased commerce between Northern Germany and Denmark to the different sectors,” says Reiner Perau.

The fact that the results had to be useful to an actual company has been a key driver in the students’ work:

“The purpose of the case work was to create a report which could be used by the clients of the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce. We wanted to avoid a report elaborating on the general socio-economic benefits of the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel. Instead, we wanted to create something that the individual companies would take an interest in reading and say: Okay, this makes sense – this is something we can begin to adjust to right away,” Michael Gadegaard Espersen says and continues:

“That is why we have created a reference work that every industry and company can use and search to find relevant information about: How will this impact my transport costs? How will this impact our exports? Based on a number of scenarios and how the state of the market will be at the time, they can find out how they should act when the time comes,” says Michael Gadegaard Espersen.

Reiner Perau highly appreciates the collaboration with the students from Aarhus BSS, which have provided the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce with insights they would not have reached otherwise.

“I have read several of the reports from the students, and they have contained some interesting perspectives regarding the effects of the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel that I would not have encountered elsewhere, and which will influence our work in the chamber of commerce in one way or the other,” he states.

About the winners, he says:

“There is no doubt that they have earned their first place with their sector analysis. We would like to promote the result because it deserves some attention. For this reason, we will either host a focused event, or we will create a white paper based on the students’ work,” says Reiner Perau.

  • This is not the first time that the German-Danish Chamber of Commerce collaborates with Aarhus BSS. In 2016, a similar case competition was announced where students calculated the potential of a mutual trade cooperation with Southern Germany. Read about it in the news article Studerende til danske virksomheder: Udnyt eksportpotentialet i Sydtyskland (in Danish).