Mar 15, 2007

Scania: New Regional Divisions Proposed

Discussions in the “Committee of Responsibility, Ansvarskommitten, has prompted the drafting of a new Swedish Regional Map of 9 Regions to replace the current 21-county Regional Map.

Concerns over the efficiency of the current 21-county administrative divisions over Sweden has prompted the Swedish government to form a “Committee of Responsibility”, otherwise known as the Ansvarskommitten, to compile a series of reports to explore alternative divisions for the administration of Sweden. Recent developments on the details of the Ansvarskommitten’s  new regional administrative map of Sweden has shown steps of incorporating the Scanian provinces Skåne, Halland, and Blekinge into a single administrative unit without the explicit designation of “Scanialand”.

Details of the Committee reports have yet to be disclosed to the public and there are further concerns whether this new regionalization of Sweden will lead to the closing down of County Councils to be replaced by a state centralistic control of area or if a semi-autonomous status would be retained in each region.

Regional designations of the Ansvarskommitten

Currently at the regional level, the Swedish government is divided into 21 counties each governed by a state-commissioner. Political tasks of the counties are administered by a directly-elected City Council and by the county administrative boards which are government bodies within the county. The historic region of Scania, otherwise known as Skaanelandene, encases the counties/provinces (län) of Skane, Halland, Blekinge, and the island of Bornholm. Each province is overseen by 3 state commissioners (landshövding). Concerns that the state-commissioner-controlled counties are too small for effective governance has prompted an Ansvarskommitten (committee report) to be formed on plans to combine the provinces/counties into larger units.

The Ansvarskommitten is exploring the possibility to merge the current 21 counties into 9 larger regions along the lines of the current Riksområden used for statistical purposes. According to leaked information on the committee, if approved, the new 9 division of Swedish self-governing regions would come into effect by 2010. On 23 September 2005, the following regional suggestions were placed on the agenda:

Region 1: Norbotten County + Västerbotten County

Region 2: Jämtland County + Västernorrland County

Region 3: Gävleborg County  + Dalarna County

Region 4: Stockholm County + Upsalla County + Södermanland County + Västmanland  County + Gotland County

Region 5: Östergötland County

Region 6: Örebro County + Värmland County

Region 7: Jönköping County + Kalmar County + Kronoberg County + Hylte Municipality

Region 8: Västra Götaland County + Kungsbacka Municipality + Varberg Municipality + Falkenburg Muncipality

Region 9: Blekinge County + Skåne County + Halmstad Municipality + Laholm Municipality

The proposal of the Ansvarskomitten once placed in effect would abolish the County of Halland and its municipalities to be shared amongst 3 of the Regions: Region 8, Region 9, and Region 7. Scania’s Blekinge County and Skåne County are to be placed in Region 9 which would also include ½ of Halland.

Similarities towards the Ansvarkommitten proposals and the current Riksområden division of Swedish territorial Units

Riksområden, otherwise known as the “national areas” is a second level division of Sweden of the NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) of Sweden annotated for statistical purposes to be used in a European Union context. There are currently 8 Riksområden. There is no internal division of Sweden on the first level, on the third level after the Riksområden, Sweden is divided along the borders of the Counties of Sweden. The Riksområden includes the following regions and their respective counties:

Stockholm: Stockholm County

East Middle Sweden: Uppsala County + Södermanland County + Östergötland County + Örebro County + Västmanland County

South Sweden: Blekinge County + Skåne County

North Middle Sweden: Värmland County + Dalarna County + Gävleborg County

Middle Norland: Västernorrland County + Jämtland County

Upper Norland: Västerbotten County + Norrbotten County

Smaland and the Islands: Jönköping County + Kronoberg County + Kalmar County + Gotland County

West Sweden: Halland County + Västra Götaland County

In respects to Scania, the Ansvarskomitteen would place counties in the Riksområden of “South Sweden” under the same regional body as parts of “Western Sweden”, municipalities of Halland County.

Effects on Scania

Scanialand today is not a geopolitical entity but a cultural region. The proposed Swedish Ansvarskomitteen would create a regional administrative body which includes the Scanian provinces/counties of Halland, Blekinge and Skåne. In spite of Blekinge and Skåne’s County’s 1,000 shared years of history, this regional formation of what would appear to be a reconstruction Scanialand would not be recognized as “Scanialand” but to be placed under the proposed name of “Sydsverige” (Southern Sweden). This is due to the Swedish government’s choice of containing Blekinge and Skåne in the same administrative region on the basis of geography rather than the three national dimensions of culture, history, and identity, none of which factor as part of the Swedish Regional equation. The new region would also only include half of Halland’s municipalities and not the entire county of Halland. The dissolution of the county of Halland has been met with protests of residents in Halland that would surrender total self-governance of their area to be divided amongst the three regions as a condition of the new regional divisions.