International Relations

The different Nordic Union candidate countries are subject to memberships in various international organizations. A prerequisite for unification is common stances on international affairs an memebership in international organizations. As for now the biggest disaccord is in relation to the European Union (with the Eurozone) and the NATO.

Organisation Denmark Estonia Finland Iceland Norway Sweden
European Union Yes  Yes Yes No No Yes
Eurozone No  Yes Yes No No No
NATO Yes  Yes No Yes  Yes No
Council of Europe Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Schengen Area Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nordic Council Yes  No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Council of Baltic Sea States Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nordic Investment Bank Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
OECD Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
UN Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
WTO Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

The economic relation between the Nordic countries and the top 20 economies of the world. Gross domestic product (Nominal) of the World (2013).
Source: Wikipedia

1 United States 16,768,100
2 China 9,181,204
3 Japan 4,898,532
4 Germany 3,730,261
5 France 2,806,432
6 United Kingdom 2,678,455
7 Brazil 2,243,854
8 Italy 2,149,485
9 Russia 2,096,774
10 India 1,937,797
11 Canada 1,838,964
The Nordic Union 1,742,014
12 Australia 1,531,282
13 Spain 1,358,263
14 South Korea 1,304,554
15 Mexico 1,259,201
16 Indonesia 868,346
17 Netherlands 853,539
18 Turkey 822,149
19 Saudi Arabia 748,450
20 Switzerland 685,434
22 Sweden 579,680
25 Norway 522,349
35 Denmark 336,701
41 Finland 267,329
105 Estonia 22,376
124 Iceland 13,579

The Nordics and the European Union

The political, economic, cultural and social life of the Nordic countries have for centuries been heavily influenced by developments taking place on the European continent.

The Nordic countries got involved in the European integration process to different degrees. Denmark became a member of the European Community (EC) already in 1973, while Finland and Sweden joined in 1995, and Estonia joined in 2004. Although they are not part of the European Union, Iceland and Norway is associated with the EU through the European Economic Area. The EEA countries are made part of the EU’s internal market, and this means that they have to incorporate most of the EU legislation. Important exemptions were, made as regards agriculture and fisheries, and these continue to be the focal point of Norwegian and Icelandic scepticism to full membership of the EU. On the other hand, other fields of cooperation were added, such as research, education, culture, environment and consumer affairs. This means that all the Nordic countries should be “up-to-date” on a large amount of international legislation imposed by the European Union. Like Denmark, Finland, Estonia and Sweden; Iceland and Norway are also signatories to the Schengen agreement on police and border control cooperation.

A Nordic Union can exist as both a part of the EU or as outside of the EU

The Nordic Union in the EU

If Norway and Iceland can be enticed to join the European union, the Nordic Union can funciton as a larger power block in the European Parliment with a stronger voice than todays fragmented politics. Thereby, they can ensure that Nordic wishes in regards to legislation and regulations can be heard, which in fact has been one of the key factors to the traditional Nordic scepticism of the European Union. A large issue for Norway and Iceland is their fishing resources, which are a significant part of their national economies and which would come under the Common Fisheries Policy if they were to accede to the EU.

The Nordic countries does not have a large population, so populationwise they will never be a significant force in the European Union, however, the countries enjoy an enormous gross domestic product for their size and together can have a significant economical impact on the EU.

The possible largest economies within the European Union

1  Germany 3,730,261
2  France 2,806,432
3  United Kingdom 2,678,455
4  Italy 2,149,485
5 The Nordic Union 1,742,014
6  Spain 1,358,263
7  Netherlands 853,539
8 Poland 525,863
9 Belgium 524,806
10 Austria 428,322

As the table indicates the Nordic countries together can prove a important factor in the European cooperation and not as easily disregarded as in the current form. In the authors opinion this might be the only reason for the remaining Nordic countries to join the EU.

The Eurozone

Another obstacle concerning a consolidation within the European Union is the Eurozone. Finland and Estonia are currently in the Eurozone and are using the Euro as their national currency. Although Sweden is required to replace the Swedish krona with the euro eventually the swedes have chosen to remain outside pending public approval by a referendum. On 14 September 2003 56% of Swedes voted against adopting the euro in a referendum, and it is not likely that they will join the Eurozone in the foreseeable future.

Even though not being in the Eurozone, Denmark has pegged its krone to the euro. During negotiations of the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, Denmark secured a protocol which gave it the right to decide if and when they would join the euro and they decided to opt-out of the euro. This was done in response to the Maastricht treaty having been rejected by the Danish people in a referendum. On 28 September 2000, a euro referendum was held in Denmark resulting in a 53.2% vote against the government’s proposal to abrogate the euro opt-out. Since 2007, the Danish government has discussed holding another referendum on euro adoption. The uncertainty resulting from the ongoing financial crisis led the government to postpone the referendum. At this time, all decitions regarding the Eurozone amongst the danish territories of Greenland and Faroe Islands will wait until the danish decition has been made.

Instability in the Icelandic króna led to discussion in Iceland about adopting the euro. However, Jürgen Stark, a Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, has stated that “Iceland would not be able to adopt the EU currency without first becoming a member of the EU”, and Iceland subsequently applied for EU membership. As of the ECB’s May 2012 convergence report, Iceland did not meet any of the convergence criteria.  On 13 September 2013, a new elect government  suspended its application to join the European Union until a referendum can be held on the question. It is unlikely that Iceland will join the Eurozone on the in the near future.

Norway faces the same obstacles as Iceland in joining the Eurozone, a membership in the EU. With the current participation in the EEA and the positive economy of Norway there will be little in the way for a Norwegian ascension to the European Union and subsequently to the Eurozone. The only factor lacking is the support of its inhabitants.

There is currently no legal protocol for creation of a new state within the EU consisting of current member states of the EU, but it is not inconceivable that it would be possible.

The Nordics outside the European Union

Leaving the EU and the Eurozone

In order to create a new Union on the outside of the European Union, the current members will have to leave the European Union and the Eurozone. There is a possibility to withdraw from the EU as the Treaty of Lisbon introduced an exit clause for members who wish to withdraw from the Union. A member state would notify the European Council of its intention to secede from the Union and a withdrawal agreement would be negotiated between the Union and that State. The Treaties would cease to be applicable to that State from the date of the agreement or, failing that, within two years of the notification unless the State and the Council both agree to extend this period. This system gives a negotiated withdrawal, due to the complexities of leaving the EU (particularly concerning the euro).

The EU and the Eurozone is in most cases closely related and a withdrawal from either the EU or the EMU (European monetary union or the Eurozone) will require a withdrawal from the other

A working paper published by the European Central Bank concluded:
… that negotiated withdrawal from the EU would not be legally impossible even prior to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, and that unilateral withdrawal would undoubtedly be legally controversial; that, while permissible, a recently enacted exit clause is, prima facie, not in harmony with the rationale of the European unification project and is otherwise problematic, mainly from a legal perspective; that a Member State’s exit from EMU, without a parallel withdrawal from the EU, would be legally inconceivable; and that, while perhaps feasible through indirect means, a Member State’s expulsion from the EU or EMU, would be legally next to impossible. … with a reminder that while, institutionally, a Member State’s membership of the euro area would not survive the discontinuation of its membership of the EU, the same need not be true of the former Member State’s use of the euro.

A new system

As seen it is possible for the current member countries to leave the EU. Leaving the EU and the Eurozone will have a large impact on the current member countries economy as it consists of renegotiation of trade agreements, and the change to a new currency. It is hard to say exactly what harm or gain this will make for the countries. In any case a new union will then require a new currency, monetary system and trade relations for the member countries.

The Nordics and NATO

With the creation of a Nordic Union, one of the criterias would probably be a joint military and defence force. The various countries memberships in NATO makes this a valid issue in the discussion of an Nordic Union which needs to be resolved. While it is possible for all countries to merge their defence force, the question is if this new entity will be a member of NATO or not.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is an intergovernmental military alliance which constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. Of the Nordic countries Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Estonia are currently memebers.

The Finland and Swedens opinion of NATO

Finland participates in nearly all sub-areas of the Partnership for Peace programme, and has provided peacekeeping forces to both the Afghanistan and Kosovo missions. The possibility of Finland’s membership in NATO was one of the most important issues debated in relation to the Finnish presidential election of 2006, and continues to be a prominent issue in Finland politics. In April 2014, Finland announced they would sign a “Memorandum of Understanding” with NATO on Finland’s readiness to receive military assistance and to aid NATO in equipment maintenance. A survey conducted for YLE in June 2013 found that 52 percent of Finns opposed membership of NATO, while 29 percent supported and 19 percent were undecided. In March 2014, during the 2014 Crimean crisis, one survey showed only 22 percent supporting membership, though a second showed that 53 percent would support membership if Finnish leadership recommended it. Support for a military alliance with neighbor Sweden was also high, at 54 percent, and Finland could possibly seek an enlarged role for NORDEFCO.

In 1949 Sweden chose not to join NATO and declared a security policy aiming for non-alignment in peace and neutrality in war.[131] A modified version now qualifies non-alignment in peace for possible neutrality in war. As such, the Swedish government decided not to participate in the membership of NATO because they wanted to remain neutral in a potential war. Polling has shown a modest rise in support for NATO membership among Swedes since 2008, going from 22% in May 2008 to 27% in May 2014. A poll published on 9 January 2015 showed support for joining NATO at 33% with 47% still against the idea.

NATO or not NATO

The Nordic countries have all experience with cooperation in the defence sectors throught various organizations, most prominently the NORDEFCO (Nordic Defence Cooperation), which is a defencive collaboration amongst Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, and the Nordic Battle Group where the Nordic countries Sweden, Finland, Norway and Estonia are members amongs other European countries.

A construction of a new independent Nordic defence is not a new idea, and has been discussed since the end of the second world war with the talk of a Scandinavian Defence Union which grew defunct with the construction of NATO. The current NORDEFCO has been discussed as a possible new Nordic Army to consolidate their armies even without the construciton of a union.

The issue for a possible new defence force would be its membership in NATO. As seen, the Swedish and Finnish people have had lukewarm feelings toward the NATO, while some current members has grown disillusioned. The more probable option is for the current member states to leave the NATO alliance as leaving the alliance is completely possible and legal.

 

Defence and Security cooperation

Defence

The Nordic countries have all experience with cooperation in the defence sectors throught various organizations, most prominently the NORDEFCO (Nordic Defence Cooperation), which is a defencive collaboration amongst Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, and the Nordic Battle Group where the Nordic countries Sweden, Finland, Norway and Estonia are members amongs other European countries.

A construction of a new independent Nordic defence is not a new idea, and has been discussed since the end of the second world war with the talk of a Scandinavian Defence Union which grew defunct with the construction of NATO. The current NORDEFCO has been discussed as a possible new Nordic Army to consolidate their armies even without the construciton of a union.

A common voice in question regarding the environment, climate change, security and trade in the ocean territories is vital in the future. Together the countries can have a more significant geopolitical standing and better care for their interests.

Peacebuilding

The Nordic countries have had a longstanding cooperation in the field of peacebuilding through various missions on behalf of the UN and NATO. The Nordic countries enjoy a status of trust and admiration amongs many foreign countries as the countries have enjoyed a long time of a minimum amount of belligerence and warmongering, while focusing on stability and peace builing. The historical peace building missions undertaken by the individual Nordic countries has largely proven very successful, and hopefully the tradition will continue. A military unification will further ensure that the missions remain effective, and that the countries can positively and competently be contribute in peacebuilding missions in willing countries and areas.

Surveillance

The Nordic countries are in close proximity to each other and often share the same issues in regards to surveillance. The defence ministers of Norway, Finland and Sweden has taken the initiative to strenghten the airspace survaillence cooperation amongst the Nordic countries. This process has already started as sharing scheme of airspace survaillance information has been implemented. Further the Nordic countries are to take over the Icelandic airspace survaillance and personell training as the US troops have left the Keflavik base.

Currently only Finland and Sweden of all the Nordic countries share their oceanic survaillence information with each other, even though having shared interests in the Baltic, Atlantic and Norwegian oceans. The countries together has control over enormous ocean areas and current information about the seas is vital to not just the military, but also many parts of the countries economies. The Norwegian initiative “BarentsWatch” is a excellent example of open information that can and should be integrated with the rest of the Nordic countries for better knowledge and surveillance of their joint interests.

Surveillance information and satellite images are largely being bought seperately by each Nordic countries from various other countries and agencies. These satellite images are being used too keep control of oceanic vessles, sea ice conditions, oil spills and general oceanic and meterologic information. This is the cheapest and best option for each individual country, but together in a Nordic Union the countries will benefit from a satelite system of their own that can provice real-time images and information. Having control of their own satelites is important for security purposes, and also because the European and American satellites does not provide sufficiently detailed and accurate information close to the northern pole.

Security

The world society is becoming increasingly dependent on information technology, and this leaves room for new solutions and threaths. Digital attacks can lead to interruptions, misinformation, and paralysis of society. Digital security is a hot topic amongst every Nordic country and closer cooperation and information sharing can lead to a faster, easier and more secure life online. Currently every nation have their own system for digital security and there is minimal  sharing of knowledge, intelligence and threath assessments. The NATO initiative “Cooperative Cyber DEfence Centre of Excellence” in Estonia is one of many examples of attempts to integrate the Nordic readiness for digital crisises. Estonia is also a frontrunner in the development of a digital society where knowledge, security and information is shared efficiently inside the government and with the public. With a Nordic union and a joint digital network, the secrity work and knowledge will be shared and will lead to a better prepared and secure digital society.

 

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