A profit of billions is hiding in the Øresund

The newly-signed Øresund Agreement brings an important and long-awaited opportunity for a more flexible labor market in the capital area.

Asbjørn Overgaard, CEO of Copenhagen Capacity. Photo: Copenhagen Capacity

Recently, the old Øresund Agreement, which regulates taxes and pensions for people who work across the Danish-Swedish border, was revised. 

The revision is a clear improvement and holds the possibility that we can to a much greater degree create a unified labour market in the so-called Greater Copenhagen region, which spans the region of the capital and Zealand in Denmark and the region of Halland and Skåne on the Swedish side.

New in the agreement is, among other things, better conditions for working from home and greater transparency for commuters, simply because they will now count working days over a 12-month period, compared to the previous three months.

These are decisive steps, which to a much greater extent match the flexible way we work today.

The previous agreement from 2003 made it difficult and unattractive to hire and take jobs across the border and has so far hampered the development of the Danish-Swedish labour market.

With the revised agreement, we are one step closer to unlocking the enormous potential in closer cooperation with our good neighbours on the other side of the strait.

As Copenhagen’s Lord Mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen recently pointed out, there is a clear discrepancy between the capital and southern Sweden when it comes to unemployment.

In Copenhagen we lack labour, and in southern Sweden they have many unemployed. This only emphasizes even more why we must work hard to make the labour market across the Øresund more flexible.

There are many more clever heads and skilled hands to draw upon. When the first Øresund Agreement was adopted in 2003, the number of commuters increased massively.

But the figure peaked at around 19,000 commuters when the financial crisis hit in 2008, and it has stagnated since – despite the fact that the discrepancy has not decreased.

An analysis from Greater Copenhagen indicates that we can save DKK 1.3 billion a year by revising the Øresund Agreement. We are simply too small a country and too small a regional group not to take advantage of the huge potential that lies in being able to share the labour market.

Today, it may be us who need to attract Swedish qualified employees – but one day we may find ourselves in the opposite situation.

As it is now, we have roles to fill. On the other side of the strait there are a lot of competent people who are ready to fill them. It should be straightforward.