The countries of the Nordic-Baltic region are characterized by a wide range of political positions and views. While some Baltic states, such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, are members of the EU, NATO and the Monetary Union, Finland and Sweden are members of the EU but not of NATO. Then again Sweden and Denmark, as EU member states, are not part of the monetary union, while Finland is. This diversity can be fertile, but also complicates coordination and cooperation in political and economic matters.
In order to create space for an exchange on key issues for the future cooperation of the Nordic-Baltic countries, the FES organized an international conference in the Estonian capital Tallinn. Experts from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway attended and exchanged their country-specific positions, experiences and ideas for a deeper cooperation in the region.
What positions do the Nordic and Baltic Member States take within the EU? What are the countries’ opinions concerning EU social policy? What contribution does the EU make to regional economic growth? What options are there for working together in the field of security and defense policy? These and other questions were at the center of the international conference.
Sven Mikser, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia (SDE), opened the conference by pointing out the future challenges for the region in Europe as well as shared interests that need to be positioned in the EU. The new dynamics sparked by internal divisions within the EU and the upcoming Brexit were elaborately discussed in Tallinn. Marlene Wind, professor at the University of Copenhagen and director of the Center for European Politics, emphasized the need for reliable partners and warned against isolation and nationalisms. Even if the coalitions within the EU are fluid, stated the Latvian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ilze Rūze, are supra-regional strategies more likely to succeed than motions by individual countries.
Although it emerged in the course of the conference that instead of shared visions there is currently a greater need for political pragmatism, the participants agreed that within the Nordic-Baltic region, apart from common security and economic interests, shared values form the basis for a good cooperation.
The conference was organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in close cooperation with the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, the International Centre for Defence and Security and the Representation of the European Commission in Estonia.