This was the first time that candidates from all three Nordic EU Member States - Denmark, Finland, and Sweden - met in a debate ahead of a European Parliament election. The debate covered three topics: the Nordic Region after Brexit, climate policy, and defence and security policy.
With regard to Brexit, the panel agreed that the Nordic countries will lose an important friend and partner when the UK leaves the EU.
“We’re losing a like-minded and close ally. Although we have a shared history and similar values here in the Nordic Region, if we’re to continue to have a strong voice in the EU, we must work closer together,” said Denmark’s Minister for Culture Mette Bock, who is a leading candidate for the Liberal Alliance in the European Parliament election.
Mette Bock received strong support from Kimmo Sasi of the Finnish National Coalition Party. He stressed that the Nordic countries now have to seek partners elsewhere, such as by working more closely with the Baltic countries and Germany.
“Just look at the statistics. The Nordic countries are leaders in many areas and we can take a more leading role in the EU. We can export the Nordic model more effectively in Europe.”
The Nordic Region also faces challenges
Several candidates saw opportunities for closer Nordic co-operation also on the issue of the climate. The message was that the Nordic Region has a lot to offer Europe and the world when it comes to showing that the green transition can be beneficial in terms of both jobs and economics.
But Rasmus Nordqvist, who is a leading candidate for the Danish Alternative Party, said that the Nordic Region should not only be seen as a pioneer.
“The Nordic Region not only has fantastic responses to climate challenges, but also faces huge challenges,” he said.
Opinions differed on a number of issues in the debate on defence and security policy. This is not only because the Nordic countries have chosen different paths in terms of alliance affiliation, but also because of party affiliation.
The Nordic Council’s Danish delegation organised the event, and the moderator was Anna Gaarslev, European correspondent for Danish state broadcaster DR.
The debate was a side event at the Nordic Council’s theme session which took place in Copenhagen on 8 and 9 April.