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Is the Nordic cooperation more fragile than we thought?

| By Björn Lindahl, Editor-in-chief

As the Corona pandemic hit in early 2020, there was a brutal and global stock market crash, unemployment skyrocketed in many countries and air traffic more or less came to a halt.

As the pandemic is easing, the way back is more varied. More and more borders are opening up and those of us who have been able to work from home are slowly returning to our offices. People in healthcare can breathe out. The media has time for other stories, and the political standstill is coming to an end – and we see a Swedish government crisis where a prime minister for the first time has to step down after losing a vote of no confidence. 

Norway’s capital saw a similar upset. The governing red-green alliance stepped down after a vote of no confidence against the city councillor for the environment Lan Marie Berg – one of Norway's highest-profile politicians. She will now run for parliament in September instead. Iceland also has parliamentary elections this autumn. It looks like Nordic politics might become a bit more turbulent than what has been the case for the past 18 months. 

The history of the Corona pandemic will be written eventually. We describe it through the stories of how a company, a food hall and a church have been hit in the Swedish city of Höganäs. The three women interviewed by Fayme Alm share one aim in life: You have to offer good service.

Going forward, our everyday lives will be filled with less existential questions – like what should we wear on our return to the office? Bengt Östling and Cata Portin have performed a deep dive into the Finnish fashion industry. In Åland the party is already well underway – they will spend an entire year celebrating 100 years of autonomy. 

That does not mean this edition is all glitter. We also report on the Danish Benefit Commission’s work to reform the state’s cash benefit system, partly to be able to prioritise children of unemployed parents. And what is happening to the law about employee protection in Sweden? A compromise had been reached only weeks before the government crisis. 

It is not often we can claim to take a billion-year perspective on things, but our new colleague in Iceland, Hallgrímur Indriðason, presents NordVulk – one of the oldest Nordic institutions that are facing a less certain financial future while the ongoing Geldingadalir eruption serves as a reminder of the powerful forces inside our planet. A few years ago, the whole of Europe was affected by the ash cloud from Iceland. But volcanology is also knowledge about how climate gases can be stored in rock, which is important if we are to reach our goal of a climate-neutral economy. 

Far too often we concentrate on facing the dangers we are already fighting. During the Nordic Council Theme Session a new threat will be debated – cyber attacks. Can we coordinate a Nordic approach for how to fight them? 

We also need a comprehensive debate about the Nordic cooperation. As Nordregio’s leader Rolf Rolf Elmér put it in Gunhild Wallin’s interview:

“It was surprisingly easy to close the borders, I thought the open borders were better protected than that. But when the pandemic arrived, much of the cooperation proved to be a ‘fair weather’ construction that could not withstand the stress of a pandemic.” 

We wish all our readers a good read and a good summer!


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