Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Swedish historian suggests new Kalmar union

Today the Nordic Council began its annual session, which this year is held in Stockholm. In an article in Dagens Nyheter the Swedish historian and author Gunnar Wetterberg takes it as an opportunity to suggest a radical strengthening of Nordic cooperation; indeed he proposes that the five Nordic countries should form a federal state, a modern version of the Kalmar union which existed from 1397 to 1523 (when Sweden broke away).
Wetterberg points out that the five Nordic countries together would be the tenth largest economy in the world, “just behind Canada and Spain but well ahead of Brazil and Russia”. This, Wetterberg argues, would give such a federal state a stronger voice on the world stage and strengthen its position in the EU (however, neither Norway nor Iceland is a member of the EU). Wetterberg also sees advantages for business and industry, culture and literature, education and science.
Gunnar Wetterberg suggests that the Nordic federal state should have a bicameral system, consisting of a lower house based on proportional representation and a senate whose composition would be less influenced by the sizes of the five countries. There should be one head of state, he argues, and points to Queen Margrethe II (apparently for the simple reason that the first monarch of the Kalmar union was Queen Margareta I), alternatively a Malaysian system whereby the position of head of state would revolve between the five states.
The federal state should be in charge of foreign policy, security, finances, laws, immigration, work, education and science. Schoolchildren should have to learn another Nordic language in addition to their own and official acts should be published in two languages – Finnish and one of the Scandinavian tongues. National laws should be harmonised gradually, Wetterberg suggests.
Wetterberg concludes that he thinks his idea is “fully realistic”. However, this is certainly not on the agenda in any of the Nordic countries and is highly unlikely to become an issue. However, Gunnar Wetterberg’s argument that the Nordic countries combined would be the tenth largest economy in the world reflects the idea of a shared G20 membership recently put forward by the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre.
There have overall been several ideas concerning a closer Nordic cooperation put forward recently. Following the collapse of the Icelandic economy a monetary union between Norway and Iceland was mentioned as an alternative to Icelandic membership of the EU and a panel led by Norway’s former Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg recently suggested a closer military cooperation between the Nordic countries. Another interesting development in inter-Nordic relations is that Denmark in recent years apparently has lost some interest and grown less committed to such issues.

The article in its entirety may be found here:

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