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Expert: build Nordic union 'if the euro falls'

The Local/pvs · 25 Oct 2011, 15:08

Published: 25 Oct 2011 15:08 GMT+02:00

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Wetterberg argued in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily on Tuesday that a federal Nordic state would enable Scandinavian countries to be more resilient in the face of global financial storms.

"A united Nordic state would be far stronger in the face of the outside world than the five countries individually, while an increasingly common domestic market would provide significantly better growth than today," Wetterberg argued.

He continued to call on leaders to "enhance emergency preparedness by exploring the conditions for joining together", bemoaning that the possibility is barely considered to exist.

Wetterberg, who is a prominent social commentator and historian, first raised the prospect of a union two years ago when he presented a proposal for a new Kalmar Union, referring to the historical term meaning a series of unions between the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden from 1397 to 1523.

While he noted that his call courted comment and praise, he underlined that little has been done in the interim to seriously consider the alternative, despite the ongoing debt crisis afflicting several EU countries and threatening the very existence of the euro.

Wetterberg warned that if the EU moves towards a more federal solution in order to tackle the problems with the single currency, then Scandinavia needs to stand ready.

Story continues below…

"Otherwise it will be difficult to maintain openness and free trade with other countries' weakness for protectionism and secrecy," he argued.

A comparison was made with the US, where while maintaining a federal system with significant differences between the states, it is possible for workers to move across the country to account for fluctuations in the economy.

The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:08 October 25, 2011 by Localer
good suggestion, but please left out Finland and Iceland...
16:15 October 25, 2011 by Tanskalainen
YES,YES,YES,YES,YES, this is what should have been done to begin with! And don't leave out Finland and Iceland.
16:50 October 25, 2011 by Abe L
Yes indeed! Mixing Norway's oil money in the Scandinavian resource mix would be very beneficial!

Perhaps include Germany and Holland, they have stable economies as well.
17:07 October 25, 2011 by hugedingleberry
Leave out the Danes. They smell like elderberries.
18:13 October 25, 2011 by Scansson
Fantastic !!!

Better late with this than never. It will get vote for sure : )
19:09 October 25, 2011 by calebian22
Don't wait for the euro to fail. Now! The fiscal irresponsibility of some Eurozone members will not be an isolated eveent. Even if the euro recovers, the cultural differences and priorities are too diverse within the Zone. A Nordic union just makes more sense regarding history, culture and social norms.
19:59 October 25, 2011 by TRJ
Don't forget the Faroes!
20:37 October 25, 2011 by redfish
Don't forget Poland!
21:30 October 25, 2011 by jvtx3232
Intriguing idea.

But Germany? Holland? Poland? Those aren't Scandinavian countries.

Nothing against them (I'm part German and Dutch myself), but they're not Scandinavian.
21:41 October 25, 2011 by Abe L
@jvtx3232, they have stable profitable economies that aren't on the verge of falling over, hence they could be included to have more size.
21:42 October 25, 2011 by Ivan Juric
How about Swaziland?
22:12 October 25, 2011 by skumdum
Good idea. The Danes should be in charge of the immigration in such a union.
22:40 October 25, 2011 by Svensksmith
What would we call the unit of money...the Nordo?
22:55 October 25, 2011 by skumdum
Why not Scandinavian Kronor or SEK for short.
00:16 October 26, 2011 by zircon
It makes no point to exit the EU/ Eurozone and copy this idea elsewhere. Especially when you say that's a bad thing.
02:17 October 26, 2011 by omash kavash
the thing is guyz are talkin like 2 year old kids immigration to danes woo no iceland no finland woo bullshit even sweden went through wars n recesion u found better things layed our by grand fathers n fathers be thankfull to god and let the experts do the talkin
02:59 October 26, 2011 by Shawntooth
all 4 countries are of small economy models (based on IE), so to speak, heavily export oriented.......the point of forming EU is to provide a large and unified market that provides convenience for bilateral trading......i don't reallly see how a nodic union is gonna give a strong "external demand" for any individual nation.....utilizing the same currency is gonna make the monetary and fisical policies a huge bummer, if we analyze what happened in 2008-2009, the crisis had completely different impact on norway, sweden and denmark, when sweden needed its currency to depreciate the counter the slumping global demand on industrial products, yet norway was an oil based economy, pretty much stress free since they possess the black gold.....well there's so much more........
03:15 October 26, 2011 by StuartM
There's still the same problem of different countries having to follow the same interest rates. Norway's economy is quite different to Sweden's for example so I'm not sure it would benefit either country. A political, social or military union as an alternative to the EU or NATO would on the other hand probably be a good thing but it would need to be based on very different principles to the neoliberal ones which the EU is so closely wedded to.
05:13 October 26, 2011 by Marc the Texan
Terrible idea. Why supplant one failing union with another? I always hear talk about the advantages of a union of states, but what are they? The only advantage I can see is in the realm of military power. And that just seems like a moot reason to form a union. I see lots of disadvantages. Starting with less accountable government and differing regional levels of productivity requiring ever more massive redistributions of income.

If you have open trade and borders already what is to be gained? Mass internal immigration from low productive areas to high productive areas as has occurred in the US over the past few centuries. What you are left with is a homogenized society with prosperous booming areas and forgotten, blighted areas. OK maybe that happens everywhere to some extent (look at England), but it will be magnified and the distinct character of any one part of Scandinavia will become less so over time.

These unions just seem to be the wet dreams of political operators with delusions of grandeur. Political office holders who fantasize about having ever greater political power. All measuring who is longer on the world stage.

What do we get as citizens? Less accountability from our leaders. Less freedom. More arbitrary blanket rules for you to live under to please some distant politician's far off constituency that you've never even heard of.

Horrible idea. There is no good case for it. I would like to see a delineated list of compelling reasons for a union if anyone has one. And I did say compelling.
06:56 October 26, 2011 by Douglas Garner
I'm with you, Marc. There is really little to gain. It would also require a great deal of political time and real money to set up and then coordinate new regulations that would certainly follow.
08:17 October 26, 2011 by rise
I too agree with the Texan guy.

The only thing the Nordic countries have in common is that they've constantly made war with each other. Denmark has always made war with Sweden (Norway was (already) under the Danish crown and Finland belonged to Sweden for approximately 650 years).
09:26 October 26, 2011 by London_Jim
Unfortunately, history has shown that what starts as an economic bloc is eventually turned into more by avaricious politicians jumping on a gravy train of over-paid salaries.

Leave what is as what is - an informal conglomeration of countries that are naturally inclined towards each other.
09:28 October 26, 2011 by ehune
@rise: "constantly made war"? If you have a look in your history book, when do you find the latest war between Scandinavian countries? How much time has passed since Sweden was at war with any country?

@D. Garner: I completely agree about the political time and real money it would take, and to be honest I hope for stronger peaceful ties between all the countries on the planet in the long run. I also think in many ways that the ties between the Nordic countries

@Marc: Where do you find those low productive areas in Scandinavia which people would move away from?,Why wouldn't the people who live there move within their country to make a homogenous demography within the country without a union? If you know anything about Swedish history, you might remember that this kind of movement was already happening for quite a while before the EU or similar projects were even thought of, although then being called urbanization - and why shouldn't people be able to move to where the jobs are? Even before the EU, there were people commuting between Nordic countries, living in one country and working in the other - during the rise of the EU (in combination with other factors) this has certainly increased (for example with the Copenhagen-Malmö bridge), and even without the EU the Nordic countries still have a separate union for countries around the Baltic Sea...

Examples of what we get as citizens:

- The possibility to move freely across borders, without visa requirements and extra hassle

- A single currency gives more financial gains to citizens (as well as companies), since we don't have to abide by extortionate bank fees and exchange rates every we time travel or move across countries.

- Job search on the same terms as local citizens, being able to find the jobs, and in return companies have an easier time finding specialists within advanced areas. This will however never be a big subject, since every country has their own language, and most companies prefer working in the local language (something which is untrue only for Britain/Ireland, but at least Britain has research showing great benefits of working immigrants)

As a Swedish person now living in my fourth European country, I certainly enjoy the advantages of the EU - not saying there's nothing wrong with it, but certainly worth saving the good parts. Of course there were mistakes made with the Euro (including letting some countries enter the common currency without really being ready for it), but if we can sail away from that, the union is certainly worth saving...
11:01 October 26, 2011 by Streja
The reason why Norway, Sweden and denmark all have kronor or kroner is that they started a monetary union in the lte 19th century. Atleast that was the plan.
12:36 October 26, 2011 by Marc the Texan

A union by definition allows people in another country to impose their political will on the people of your country. Not specifically for their country or your country but for the good of the union. Is that good enough reason for people to discard their national sovereignty? It is, if you favor a superstate rather than a nation state. Not necessarily wrong either way, just depends on the world you want to live in.

Why is a union necessary for free travel between countries without a visa? It's not. Lots of countries agree to open borders without being involved in a union.

Why is a union necessary for a liberal labor policy where immigrants are permitted to work? It's not. Open labor policies in countries do not require a union.

A single currency is where the biggest problem lies unless you want to give up sovereignty to a superstate. After less than 2 decades of the EMU, Germany's unit labor productivity has increased 30-40% more than Italy's. That is a huge imbalance between core EMU members. The problem can only be resolved with much tighter integration, austerity, wealth transfers and loss of sovereignty all for the sake of a ridiculous currency project. That means people in one country imposing political will on people in another country. This just forces nations to live under the tyranny of one another. Italians don't want to live as Germans and Norwegians don't want to live as Swedes. There are a million tiny things that are important in one country but not another and vice versa. But if you are going to live in a union, especially a monetary union, people from another country will be entitled to tell you how to live for the sake of the union.

All your and everyone elses' savings in currency transactions have already been surpassed with the bailout of Dexia alone. Don't bother mentioning Ireland, Greece, Iceland or what is to come. Any gains from the single currency have already been spent on bailing out European banks. How much of that money could have been spent on people rather than propping up a doomed currency scheme. The EMU has proven to be nothing more than ego-maniacal vanity project. If forex fees were the key reason for a single currency, it would be much easier to legislate lower transaction fees at a national level. Most transfers are electronic and the actual transaction costs are a tiny marginal amount.

Every country has low productivity areas in relation to others. The differences between high and low areas generally grows between nations with different norms, culture, laws, resources, etc. It's why a country like Romania is filled with ghost villages and London is filled with two bedroom, one bathroom flats that house 8 working adults. Economically there is a greater efficiency and productivity going on here, but there are also many things wrong with it. What do we give up for high velocity economic progress? The issue goes beyond pure economics, in my opinion.
15:30 October 26, 2011 by matona1
very nice i dea but if we can include IRAQ,GHNA AND CHINA it will be very very intresting
16:09 October 26, 2011 by rise
@ ehune

If the Nordic countries counts as about thousand years old (Denmark should be the slightly oldesr of them) they have made war 800 of them. So, 80% of the countries life spans they've been at war with each other. :P
16:51 October 26, 2011 by burito
Nordic Union-very good idea,I give my vote for it!..
21:52 October 26, 2011 by Tanskalainen
All this gloom and doom! The fact is these countries have more in common than not. To people outside of Scandinavia these countries appear very much the same and that is how Scandinavians need to see themselves. Norway has oil and Sweden doesn't, so the hell what? The fact is as a unit they would be stronger as a whole. Stalin would not have stolen Finnish territory if Scandinavia had been a whole unit. The Germans would not have stolen Slesvig-Holstien for the same reason. Both these territories are still occupied. If there is a graphic example for the need for Scandinavian unity these examples should be it. Any stupid questions?
21:57 October 26, 2011 by skatty
I think Norway alone can build a union by itself without any other Scandinavian country (at least, as far as it has oil! after the end of the oil they live on fish, I mean to eat fish).
22:52 October 26, 2011 by rise
@ Tanskalainen

"To people outside of Scandinavia these countries appear very much the same and that is how Scandinavians need to see themselves."

That's the problem; you're seeing "Scandinavia" (just like in inte seeing "Africa" instead of Mozambique, Tunisia, Zimbabwe and so on). How Scandinavians should look upon themselves are not for you to decide.
18:09 October 28, 2011 by james_g
Is it normal for a Texan to come up with such unadulterated reasoned common sense? Marc - respect, old chap! (for real!) :)
18:51 October 28, 2011 by eovti
How would the Norwegians profit from such a union? Except for 'sharing' the oil savings (current value: 3000 billion Norwegian Kroner) with the rest of the Northern countries? Would we get shares in Finlands doomed Nokia, would Sweden share their great educational system with us? Sorry, people, you are all good neighbors, but Norway is preparing for The Big Collapse of the world economy, and we can't afford to pay for you guys.
06:31 November 1, 2011 by shahislam
Infoseeker, I am so encouraged by your past positive comment that's making me to post the following here and in your honour:

Only thing may help the US-now and the ensuing new world's healthy politics is: to make sure through new laws-passed right now in the US and then, in the New UN, so that no business leader {such as small and big weapon factory, Stock market, Oil-field owner etc. who have something to gain from economic and political unrest; (e.g. just think about this fact: how does billions of $$$$$$$$ US money went into personal pockets of Donald Trump or Bill gates Warren Buffet or countless too tall CEOs as bonus packages or Emirs of Middle East or shorter Chinese, Indian, Saudi businessmen etc.?

How great it would be to see now an simple international law is being passed, against any too rich Guy to inflict pains and miseries to hard working Middle Class Guys.

That new law shall apply to everyone, regardless it be a businessman or a king anywhere in the world, US$ One million only annually can be kept from net income for each member individually of a wealthy family earning more than US$ 1 million or US$ 1 billion, rest will be taken by an honest UN power for the benefit of equal wealth distribution among global public and the accounting will be so transparently visible in the yet to be built: UN's Website in a "No National or International secret" -style; that any member of the global public will have unrestricted access for own awareness of what's going on with the Earth's resources) can participate in the Now-homeland and next year's International politics of the electronically manageable smaller: One world with endless possibilities of developments.

A properly active human mind is smarter than the dumb space with big stars we can see in the night sky, because star can't see or understand a human mind.

It is the smallness of human minds that unhealthily gets worried about things when 50 billion world population will have no food on earth, world is becoming too hot or cold etc..

We get solar energy for free from an unknown source of the Cosmic Creator and it is kept or radiated only as much as is necessary; and nothing else comes or goes out of this planet: the Earth and there will never ever be any shortage of forever recycling minerals, atomic particles, energies: fossil or other fuel types or bio fats for human consumption etc..

However, when it comes to the politics and money issue of the every-day's modern humanitarian happy life, we -the wise ones selflessly just need to start the redistribution and balancing process as soon as possible.

The money oriented knowledge, currently recognized by the 'Century old Certifications of Scientists or Economists etc.' are too weak to solve the problems of present disorders or to discover enough "wisdom of religion-less Omni-powerful's play" where the main key of evolved Mankind's general happiness and comfort is still hidden.
18:23 September 14, 2012 by JonnyDee
The Nordic Economic Union would dominate and would have all teh resources to be self-sufficient. This would be great news for Scandinavia and would (hopefully) rub off on the rest of the world.
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