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When the system thinks nationally, people get trapped

While the Nordic parliaments are currently debating obstacles for freedom of movement in the Nordic Region, countless people are trapped by the countries' systems. In the stories below you will become involved in some current personal adversity.

Apr 18, 2012
Karin Beate Nøsterud/

Estelle: On the brink of ruin

Estelle is a Swedish nurse who lives in Sweden. Since 1995 she has worked mostly in Denmark, but also a little in Sweden and latterly also in Norway. So that her Danish employer could avoid paying the high Swedish employer taxes, she applied for and received exemption from normal rules so that she could be covered by Danish social security instead. When it was later apparent that she had done some work in Norway, the exemption was withdrawn and backdated. Estelle was required to pay Swedish social security contributions of almost SEK 400,000 for the two previous years. This was money that she did not have and this completely upset her finances, shortly before she was due to retire.

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Christian: Cannot use his degree

Christian studied to be a doctor in Sweden but wanted to do his medical practical experience in Finland. He has now been offered a position at a medical centre in Vasa but it turns out that the rules require him to carry out his practical experience in Sweden. He has now been told that he can choose between selling his new home in Finland, taking his children out of school and his wife resigning from her job so that they can all move back to Sweden where he can complete his practical experience; or he can apply to study medicine in Finland and do temporary work as a doctor in Finland. However, some universities will not accept him as a student because he already has a Swedish medical degree.

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Sverre: Sick without compensation

Finnish Sverre moved with his wife and child to Oslo where his wife had got a job. Sverre was on long-term sick leave but was paid his Finnish sickness benefits. The payments from Finland stopped when the sickness benefit period ended, but Sverre was still not completely recovered. Norway would not give Sverre any money since he had not worked in Norway, and had not lived there for at least three years. Norway encouraged Sverre to go back to Finland despite the fact that his wife and child were in Norway.

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Isabella: Unable to study

After several years of working in Norway, Swedish elite sportswoman Isabella begins studying. The problem is just that neither Sweden nor Norway will grant her a study allowance. “Totally sick and wrong, I don't want them just to give me the money, I will pay back the loan later”, says Isabella resignedly.

Read all of Isabella's story