For those of you that missed it – not hard amid the flood of news from Ireland and the waves it sent rolling across Europe – the governments of the UK and the five Nordic and three Baltic countries this week announced a new and quite different form of cooperation.
New? Well, yes. Although we are partners in a number of international organisations we’ve never before got together to talk about what makes us tick. And different? Well, again, yes. Because this will be a group not just of Prime Ministers but also of business leaders, policy wonks and entrepreneurs. And the meeting – which will take place in London in January – will focus not on agreements and communiques but on ideas for improving the way our societies work.
So, rather than negotiating we’ll be listening, debating and thinking, sharing ideas and looking for new ways to promote wellbeing in our countries. This sounds like it might be fun. But it has a deadly serious purpose. The Nordics are among the most competitive and innovative economies in the world. Right now we’re talking a good deal around Europe about the relationship between income equality, social wellbeing and growth. The northern liberal countries outperform most of the rest of the planet in getting this right. But the UK too is a powerhouse of ideas and entrepreneurship. We’ve a lot to learn from each other. Here’s a new way to do it.