The work to remove obstacles to cross-border freedom of movement in the Nordic Region is one of 14 projects within the overall framework of the Nordic governments’ globalisation strategy. The objective is to remove a handful of barriers every year, and to ensure that national legislation does not erect new ones.
In recent years, a number of different stakeholders have been involved in facilitating cross-border activities by exerting their influence and by providing more easily accessible information. A more open Nordic Region is in many people’s interests, so a large number of people are involved in this work.
A joint labour market
The Nordic Region has had a joint labour market since the 1950s. By exchanging manpower, the Nordic countries have been able to even out imbalances between those countries with high unemployment and those with a shortage of labour.
The joint labour market has allowed the Nordic countries to cope with cyclical fluctuations and has enabled them to develop more positively than would otherwise have been the case. Exchanges of labour are still important today, especially in the border areas.
Nordic businesses have also become increasingly integrated over the last decade.
Neighbouring countries make up a disproportionally large share of each Nordic country’s import and export markets. Recent studies have shown that the single biggest obstacle to doing business across Nordic borders is the lack of accessible, relevant information about regulations, etc. in the other countries. Several tax issues have also been identified as problematic.
It is in the interests of all of the Nordic countries that businesses are able to operate as freely as possible across borders. Projects are therefore launched on a regular basis in order to identify and remove obstacles.
Various “matchmaking events”, trade fairs and information campaigns are used to stimulate and facilitate cross-border business.
The Nordic Region in the world
All of the Nordic countries have strong links to the European Union, either as members or because they are part of the EEA.
The Nordic Region is therefore part of the EU’s inner market in most sectors. Through their links to the EU, the Nordic countries are also obliged to follow the various regulations and directives that are drawn up at European level.
Several of these deal with people’s right to freedom of movement within the EU/EEA and the joint European market. For this reason, the Nordic goal of an open Region harmonises well with the European ideal.
The ultimate objective in both cases is to make better use of the Nordic Region’s and the EU’s full potential by minimising the impact of borders as obstacles.