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Scotland after Brexit - Lessons from the Nordics

On 29 October the Academy of Government together with Nordic Horizons is convening a major one-day event how Nordic countries' experiences with the EU can inform Scotish policy in the wake of Brexit.

(Check event page for registration details)

The Nordics manage to co-exist quite happily with every possible variation of relationship with the EU – in (Finland, Sweden, Denmark) out (Iceland and Norway) and shake it all about (Faroes and Greenland who are out while the “Mother Ship” Denmark is in). These two tiny Nordic players have no formal agreement with the EU, whilst Norway pays quite a bit to retain access to the single market. So quite a bit of variation.


Surely in all of this there are lessons for Scotland to learn – as a devolved government within the UK or possibly a small northern independent state sometime in the future.

So we’ve brought an interesting collection of speakers together for an afternoon conference which will be opened by the Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop;

Professor Mary Hilson – author of The Nordic Model, excellent Nordic Horizons speaker and now historian in the Dept of Culture and Society at Aarhus University Denmark will give a contemporary an historical overview of the Nordic nations and the EU.

Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson - ex leader of Iceland's Social Democratic Party and former Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs was responsible for their negotiations to join the EEA in the 1990's. He will reflect on both EFTA in 1970’s and EEA - how Iceland achieved exemptions on fishing/agriculture - the pros/cons of that – and Iceland’s temporary post-crash desire to be in the Euro BUT not the EU.  

Tuomas Iso-Markku, Research Fellow, at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Will reflect on why Finland appears to have a different relationship with the EU than many of its Nordic neighbours.
An important point is security - Russia next door -- and the dangers to being a vocal small member.

Ulrik Pram Gad is Associate Professor of Arctic Culture and Politics at University of Aalborg, Denmark and recently published a paper on the triangular relation between Greenland, Denmark and the EU (quoted by Nicola Sturgeon). From 1998 to 2002 he worked for the Government of Greenland in Nuuk. Will discuss whether Scotland could do “a reverse Greenland'.

Dr. Duncan Halley, Scots born but now at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research - will discuss the advantages for Norway of controlling its land use, fisheries, and conservation outside the EU and will speculate on similar advantages for Scotland. Duncan gave a brilliant Nordic Horizons talk comparing land use and forestry in the Scottish Highlands and SW Norway in 2015.

Bjort Samuelsen – is a Republican MP in the Faroese Parliament, Member of the West Nordic Council and was Minister for Trade and Industry, Infrastructure and Gender Equality in 2008. She was originally a journalist and worked for Norwegian and Faroe Islands Broadcasting. Bjort will explain why the Faroes decided not to join the EU with Denmark in the 1970s and discuss how easy it has been outside all trade blocs as a nation of just 49k people.

After these speakers we will have a final session asking if anything we’ve heard has relevance for Scotland. Amongst the contributors in that final session will be; the Chair of the Scottish Parliament’s Europe & External Affairs Committee Joan McAlpine, Professors Andrew Scott and James Mitchell from University of Edinburgh, the author of A Utopia Like any Other, Dominic Hinde and hopefully Labour MEP Catherine Stihler.

Edinburgh Students