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Brits in Sweden to forge northern alliance: paper

Brits in Sweden to forge northern alliance: paper

Published: 09 Feb 2012 17:25 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Feb 2012 17:25 GMT+01:00

Nordic, Baltic and British leaders have been gathering in Stockholm, ostensibly to discuss shared future challenges. But commentators think the meeting has a bigger purpose - as part of a British-led strategy to forge a new 'northern alliance' in Europe.

In an editorial on Thursday, Dagens Nyheter (DN) writes that behind the headline discussions on pension ages and women in boardrooms, the meeting might have a longer-term strategic purpose, at least for British Prime Minister David Cameron: to forge a long-term alliance between the Northern European countries:

"There's a risk that David Cameron wants the northern partnership to challenge Brussels," the pro-EU liberal paper writes.

Britain's Financial Times offered a similar view, saying that Cameron, who has a long-standing friendship with Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt, was looking to find allies to counterbalance French views on economic management:

"Behind the scenes, this “Northern Alliance” will also debate ways to frustrate a “French model” for the European economy; most of the nine leaders are opposed to stricter regulation and new taxes, notably a Tobin tax on financial transactions," the FT wrote.

The British financial daily added that the affection was a two-way street, saying that despite French President Nicolas Sarkozy portraying Britain as an outcast, Swedish leaders view Britain as a valuable ally in pushing for pro-growth policies in the EU.

When launching the first Northern Future Forum in London last year, Cameron said "Right across the north of Europe, there stretches an alliance of common interests. At a time when much of Europe is in desperate need of funding economic reform, it makes sense for us to come together for the benefit of all our economies; an avant garde for jobs and growth."

That Cameron wants to stress his affinity with the Nordic countries and with the Baltic states is in itself not surprising, DN writes, given their relative economic success in recent years.

But it warns that any move to create rival camps in Europe should be resisted.

The British prime minister likes to stress the country's separation from the rest of the EU, not just in regards to policies but the way they are formatted, it points out.

The leader of the British Tories would like to get out of supranationally binding EU legislation in as many areas as possible, preferring loose and non-binding discussions like the meeting currently taking place in Stockholm, argues the paper.

But, the paper goes on to say, this would not be a good thing at a time when Europe could do with a “larger dose of British and Nordic attitude to trade, business and growth”.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:13 February 9, 2012 by Iraniboy
I don't think it will be feasible. The British mindset is far away from the Nordic one.
19:49 February 9, 2012 by ulster1690
Please explain Iraniboy, why the British mindset is far away from the Nordic minset?
19:55 February 9, 2012 by Iraniboy

It looks after competitiveness and dominance which are rather despised in Nordic culture.
20:10 February 9, 2012 by ulster1690

Anything to support these claims?
21:06 February 9, 2012 by Iraniboy

This comes from my personal experience of being in both countries. I'm not saying which one is good or bad. In most part of the world people competitiveness and dominance is exclusively promoted among different nations and cultures. It is only the Nordic cultures that find them rather eccentric.
21:14 February 9, 2012 by Global Macro
It is very interesting to contemplate. Can countries that have long labored under the enormous weight of socialist government policies that sap society of capital and initiative possibly move toward a free market model? That does seem hard to believe. Especially in Sweden where people seem to favor a collectivist model. Yet recently some Swedish leaders have made comments that could be interpreted as open to such changes. I am a bit skeptical, but I will certainly watch with interest.
21:19 February 9, 2012 by BillyB
This is actually the start of a new Eurovision song contest.

Bored of the usual fixed voting some countries will split off and form their own version
21:35 February 9, 2012 by apelsin000
Just read a little bit history, then you know what Cameron is doing
21:46 February 9, 2012 by Wildjay
The empire strikes back?
00:17 February 10, 2012 by Nemesis
Cameron is probably looking for the Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish navies to protect the Falklands as he has sold of most of the UK military and cut funding for the rest.

@ ulster1690,

I would ignore Iraniboy. He has a negative opinion of all things Irish and British. He clearly does not understand what your name means :)
01:34 February 10, 2012 by phil23456
A new alliance is what's needed, Germany and France should not be allowed to continue there power grab, just look at what they are doing to Greece
03:28 February 10, 2012 by SecondGen

Just look at what Greece had done to Greece. (I agree the Euro is very good for Germany but not really working out all that well for Greece).

Germany may finally rule Europe without firing a shot.
04:14 February 10, 2012 by rise
Personally I've always liked the British people. Can't say I would agree with Iraniboy, and yes I've stayed in London and come to know the English. I think the British and the Nordic peoples have much in common, for example the calmness and coolness. The English and the Swedes even have much of the same sense of humor, at least according to John Cleese (in a TV-interview I once saw). ;)
07:32 February 10, 2012 by Avin a go
A blend of British and Swedish policies could be good for all, British competitiveness coupled with Swedish ingenuity paid for by the oil rich Norwegians.
10:42 February 10, 2012 by zircon
British PM David Cameron is a global player and perhaps is demonstrating that Britain is a free country to make friends and (re)new alliances. It could be only speculation at this stage what the PM means by all this and to say it has strategic importance as in opposing the EU bloc.
10:51 February 10, 2012 by philster61
This is not a good sign.
10:52 February 10, 2012 by Abe L
I would greatly support a healthy financially stable northern-europe alliance.
11:06 February 10, 2012 by klubbnika
I agree with iraniboy, I have the same experience. However, so far the Brits have been able to deal with the French who have even more different mindset so there is a hope for the Nordic alliance anyway. :)
12:54 February 10, 2012 by riose
Cameron is going to build his own union..with blackjack, and hookers.

In fact, forget the union! - Bender said
13:42 February 10, 2012 by irridium
At least Swedes will no longer have to waste all that time and money on going to the dentist!

just playing :D
13:44 February 10, 2012 by azimov
Don't expect much from Cameron. He and his chancellor are useless.
13:46 February 10, 2012 by dizzy09
i wonder what the fuzz is all about? old alliances die and new ones are formed and so it has been since the beginning of civilization...seriously did any body believe the EU was actually going to last forever? i wonder how long it will take for another major crisis to test this new northern alliance.
04:49 February 12, 2012 by Marc the Texan
Over the past 20 years the Nordic countries having been growing towards economic liberalization. Interests are aligning. It is a natural fit between Britain and northern Europe.

Why should rival camps be resisted? If there were a little more rivalry, the EU wouldn't be in the sclerotic bind that it finds itself. It's an unhappy marriage in the end so what's the difference?
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