Beating the Euro-crisis: why not become Scandinavian?

With seventeen Eurozone countries looking down the barrel of ‘ever closer union’, being in the wilderness with successful Nordics may be no bad thing.

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Cameron greets Reinfeldt at Number 10.
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Anthony Pickles
On 30 October 2011 14:37

Most people must by now have Eurozone crisis fatigue. But they'd better liven up; we're now at the most crucial stage.

It looks increasingly likely that Germany will move towards fiscal union in some form and the scale of this move in the long road of Euro-integration is very significant. Fiscal transfers across the Eurozone and internal Euro bureaucracies mean that the federation of Europe is here.

As a committed sceptic of political Europe, I don’t fear this move, and here’s why.

In January, David Cameron held a summit in Downing Street for Nordic and Baltic nations. This summit got very little attention from press; however the significance of this new alliance of Northern European countries almost looks to have second guessed the changes now happening in the Eurozone.

Countries like Sweden, Denmark and Poland don’t use the Euro. They have, like Britain been cautious against some of the European initiatives of recent years, and voters in Sweden rejected the Euro in a referendum in 2003.

What David Cameron has done by getting like-minded countries together at a time of economic instability is interesting.

Cynics might say that he has merely brought together a 10 nation-bloc to vote in different ways to Germany and France within the EU. However, I believe it to be much deeper than this.

In opposition, David Cameron made quite clear his admiration for Sweden and its values, and it is not surprising to see why.

Since 2006, Sweden has had a young dynamic leader called Fredrik Reinfeldt; a moderate Conservative and Atlanticist (he wants Sweden to join NATO). The friendship between Cameron and Reinfeldt is genuine and reflects their shared admiration. Looking at the Conservative manifesto, one only has to see policies like free schools and some of the welfare reforms to see where they came from.

Yet it is more than taking a few Swedish policies. Sweden has for a number of years been in second place in the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness rankings. Sweden has been growing strongly, whilst maintaining a fiscally tight budget and almost perfect social harmony. It isn’t hard to see why these achievements are attractive to a svenska-friendly British Prime Minister.

However, the Nordic countries are more than just Sweden. The Baltic nations, for example, are making huge progress too, both economically and socially.  

As the plates of Europe shift in whatever direction, it is significant that a group are looking beyond the parameters of the EU and toward their shared values of free market, liberal attitudes and fiscal conservatism.

With seventeen Eurozone countries looking down the barrel of ‘ever closer union’, being in the wilderness with successful Nordics may be no bad thing. 

Anthony Pickles is a Parliamentary Researcher and Conservative activist. 

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