Global developments seem to have had an impact on the perception of the Nordic Region. Defence and security are currently regarded as one of the most important areas of co-operation while democracy, transparency, and human dignity are perceived as being the most typical Nordic values. These and other facts have come to light in a study commissioned this autumn by the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Council.
The importance of co-operation has grown
According to the study, the views of those living in the Nordic Region have changed in the last decade with regard to the areas in which the Nordic countries should co-operate. While a 2008 study showed that “fighting international crime” was the most important area for co-operation, nine years later it has a much lower priority. Instead, defence and security issues have grown in importance and are now top of the list of areas that those living in the region feel are most in need of co-operation. Education is the most important co-operation area for young people.
The results of the study indicate that those living in the Nordic Region consider the region to be a world player, and shape their opinions around this. For instance, two-thirds think that co-operation is more important than before as a result of global developments in recent years. Forty-three percent of respondents consider one of the main benefits of Nordic co-operation to be that it gives the Nordic Region a stronger voice in the world. Sixty-eight percent believe that co-operation should be intensified further. In a similar study in 2006, 62 percent answered that they would like more co-operation, indicating a growing trend.
A significant proportion of the Nordic population believe that the ability to freely work, study, or live wherever they wish in the region is the biggest practical benefit of co-operation, both generally for the region, and for them personally. Respondents in the 16-30 age bracket feel that the most important area of co-operation from their personal perspective is the ability to study and have their qualification recognised throughout the region.
What is the basis for co-operation?
The question of what successful co-operation in the Nordic Region is based on is a relevant one both in a Nordic context and from an international perspective. Thirty-four percent responded that the most important thing is sharing the same values, while 32 percent believe that what matters the most is that our social systems are similar. Freedom of speech is perceived to be the most typical Nordic value (42 percent), followed by equal rights and value for all (36 percent), and open and democratic processes (30 percent).
Overall the study shows that Nordic co-operation is appreciated by people of all ages living in the Nordic Region, but that those in the older generations are even more positive towards co-operation than those aged 16 to 30. There is also a slight difference between the sexes with regard to co-operation, with women more likely to cite the importance of well-developed Nordic co-operation than men.
“Our co-operation is legitimised by the added value it generates for those living in the Nordic Region,” says Norway’s Minister for Nordic Co-operation Frank Bakke-Jensen. “The results of this study give us a mandate to continue the work of Nordic co-operation in a number of areas,” he says.
The opinion poll was presented in conjunction with the Session of the Nordic Council in Helsinki on 31 October. President of the Nordic Council Britt Lundberg is also satisfied with the results.
“I’ve travelled extensively throughout the Nordic Region over the past year and have seen and heard first-hand the demand for Nordic co-operation right now. Together we can push the world in a better direction. I see the results as evidence that this is something that the Nordic people want too.”
More than 3,000 people from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland were interviewed for the study, which was conducted between August and September this year.
- Read the report in full (in Swedish): Ett värdefullt samarbete