The Nordic Region’s relationship with the EU was a key topic of discussion at a meeting of the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation in Copenhagen on 1 July. Much of the Nordic countries’ legislation is affected by EU legislation. From early 2016, increasing focus has been placed on how EU legislation is implemented in the Nordic countries.
Commenting on the outcome of the UK referendum, the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers Dagfinn Høybråten says that well-integrated and effective Nordic co-operation will be even more meaningful in this new situation. The majority of the British electorate voted to leave the European Union in a referendum on Thursday – a decision that will have consequences for Nordic co-operation.
The Nordic governments should make adult education and further training mandatory for all employees in the Nordic Region and co-operate with labour-market partners to put training programmes into place. This is a proposal by former Danish minister and EU Commissioner Poul Nielson as part of a strategic review of the Nordic labour market.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is hosting a major international conference in Georgia, June 8-10, focusing amongst other things on improving air quality for a better environment and human health. The Nordic Ministers for the Environment have issued a statement of support for the work ahead and for the Batumi Action for Cleaner Air.
In this issue of “Green Growth the Nordic Way”, you can read about the new edition of the Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives done by Nordic Energy Research in cooperation with the International Energy Agency. It outlines paths towards a carbon free Nordic economy by 2050, a realistic goal according to the IEA. In another analytic endeavor, former Nokia executive director Jorma Ollila has been commissioned with exploring parts of this task. In 2017 he will publish a report analyzing the Nordic energy cooperation, already the most integrated in the world, but no doubt with room for improvement.
The Nordic Committee for Children and Young People has just published the book “Do rights! Nordic perspectives on child and youth participation.” What can be achieved when children’s rights are taken seriously? The question was discussed by a panel when contributors to the book on children’s rights and influence gathered for the launch.
The Nordic Council of Ministers for the environment is prepared to support the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals regarding the key environmental challenges including combatting marine litter. To this end, the council has reserved 1,2 million DKK (USD 181 000) to be channeled through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).
New Nordic Food is presenting a more focused programme for its work going forwards. The new programme builds on the positive results and co-operation of the previous programme. The steering committee has prioritised three areas: food in the public sector, a Nordic food award, and food and tourism. Additionally, there will be efforts to highlight New Nordic Food as a policy tool in other areas.
One last signature has been added to the list in the Nordic project to negotiate information-exchange agreements on tax matters with offshore financial centres. The United Arab Emirates and Iceland have signed off on a bilateral agreement, bringing the total up to 45 agreements with countries all over world in what has been a prime example of a successful Nordic partnership.
Nordic teachers work too much on their own. There would be a direct and positive effect on pupils’ performance if teachers came together to plan lessons, assess pupils, and speak about pedagogy. This is the conclusion of Matti Taajamo, a Finnish educational researcher and co-author of the report “Northern Lights on PISA and TALIS”.
The Nordic Environment and Climate Ministers met on April 27, 2016, where they confirmed their commitment to a strong implementation of the Paris Agreement and launched a series of new initiatives to support the follow-up to COP21. The ministers also issued a statement advocating Nordic support for a solid global environmental governance through UNEA-2 and UNEP.
At their meeting in Oslo on 19 April, the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation stated the following: “The global refugee crisis has limited freedom of movement in the Nordic Region. This has a major economic and social impact and is something which the Nordic countries must work together to limit.” At the same time, the ministers agreed a substantial increase in their investment to help facilitate the integration of refugees and migrants in the Nordic Region.
The debate on 19 April in the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, offers a unique opportunity for lawmakers in the Nordic Region to listen to each other’s views on border controls, on what’s needed if we are to regain full freedom of movement in the region, and on the damage that border controls have caused so far. The Danish Conservative People’s Party will propose a dialogue with Swedish politicians regarding bidirectional border controls between Sweden and Denmark.
In 2015 the Nordic Council of Ministers initiated a funding programme focusing on Russian-language media outlets in the Baltic countries. The programme proved to be successful, and at its meeting on 12 April, the Nordic Committee for Co-operation granted a further DKK 2.2 million for the programme in 2016.
One week after the tragic events in Brussels, representatives of Nordic cities have gathered in Malmö in an effort to prevent similar atrocities from happening in the Nordic Region. Nordic Safe Cities – a network of Nordic cities – is a direct response from the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation to the terrorism that has afflicted Europe in recent years.
Are we heading towards a Nordic Region where we’re closing each other out and distancing ourselves from the outside world? The Nordic Council will meet for a Session at the Norwegian parliament building, the Storting, in Oslo on 19 April to discuss the impact of border controls on Nordic co-operation.
When the Nordic ministers for gender equality travel to New York on Monday to take part in the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), they will be accompanied by five experts in sexism and hate speech online. “Women’s liberation will never be a reality unless we guarantee the right to express yourself without fear of harassment,” says Emma Holten, feminist och activist.
There has been increasing interest in the future of the Nordic model during numerous international events over the last years. The Nordic Council of Ministers presented the latest thinking on the topic at a high-level event in Washington D.C. at Johns Hopkins University on February 18. The issue of the Nordics as role models in current political discussions in the USA was addressed at the event also.