E20 – a Route to Success between East and West


E20 is a west to east United Nations (UNECE) defined route covering some 1800 km spanning Northern Europe from Limerick (Ireland) to St Petersburg (Russia). The total size of the „E20 economy“ is estimated at around 150 billion euros with a market in excess of 22 million people.

The E20 utilises existing strategic routes by road, sea and rail connecting some of Northern Europe’s largest, and most prosperous cities and regions in six European countries: Ireland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Estonian and Russia. In these tough times of austerity when additional investments are hard to find from both public and private budgets the idea of better using something which already exists should be a welcome proposition.

With considerable skills and expertise, practical experience and readilily available transit capacity Estonia has great interest and potential in playing a bigger role in the east-west trade, alongside with its Baltic neighbours, and the E20 corridor should be a useful tool for this.

North-south vs west-east

Traditionally the European economies have enjoyed a vertical relationship with the majority of goods and services traded on a north-south axis. With the expansion of the EU across the Baltic States, bordering the vast markets of Russia, E20 has new potential to be a corridor of opportunity for commercial activity in the 21st century, not only for the ports and cities in the catchment area of the corridor but also those outside who wish to share in the market potential.

Development of linear trade across the E20 zone has been suppressed by the lack of connecting sea corridors across the North and Baltic Seas, with significant financial and environmental implications of extended road journeys across mid continental Europe, the Channel ports and south-east England.


Creating new business on old routes

The European Route E20* seeks to realise this potential by developing a new commercial axis which will:

  • Develop connecting sea corridors between UK and Denmark; Sweden and Estonia;
  • Promote trade and identify new markets and opportunities for collaboration between SME’s in municipal economies along the E20 Route;
  • Improve rail infrastructure to provide additional logistics capacities;
  • Assist logistics companies and exporters already trading in the E20 zone to reduce costs congestion and environmental impacts by avoiding extended road journeys via London, southern England and midcontinental Europe.

From Europe to Russia and beyond

The first and most apparent attraction for the E20 stakeholders is the growing market opportunity in Russia for western European products.

The increasing demands of carbon measurement and taxing, grants for renewable energy initiatives will prove attractive to small businesses. In addition, stricter environmental requirements in the North and Baltic seas shipping will force companies to look for more effective inter-modal transport solutions.

Another alternative is the development of the E20 as a global logistics product, thus attracting new business into the corridor at its two ends St Petersburg and Limerick.

For St Petersburg, a market of some 5 million people, the opportunity to market itself in Russia as the multi modal gateway to the west across Russia is exciting enough, but positioning the Baltic countries and North-East Russia as a bridgehead for bulk exports by rail from the west to emerging eastern destinations (C.I.S. and beyond) will create real competition to air freight.

On the other end of the E20 route Limerick in Ireland has new plans to fulfill a strategic global role moving goods eastwards from the new deep-water port facilities already commissioned in Mexico and Brazil. An encouraging lesson can be learned from another famous city on the E20 – Liverpool, once a fading port and an industrial town is now becoming a focus for transatlantic traffic from North America.

*European Route E20 is a joint project developed by independent marketing and management consultants to facilitate business, explore research opportunities and help public and private sector partners to develop new opportunities for growth. Read more on E20 on their website www.e20route.eu.

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