Business view

LAST week the leaders of the UK, Baltic and Nordic countries came to Finland for the annual Northern Future Forum. Historically these countries have often had similar goals and stood united on various issues. On this occasion the disagreements were more noticeable.

THE goal of the forum was to have informal discussions about innovative businesses and education reform so there was no hard-headed negotiations or policy discussions. This was lucky, because the divisions among us were clearly visible and I doubt we could have reached a consensus on any tough issue.

CLOSE cooperation among northern countries has a long history. For instance, the Nordic Passport Union predates the Schengen agreement by some four decades. It is therefore ironic that migration is now a major topic of disagreement. While some northern nations are more open to immigration, others are becoming increasingly unwelcoming.

THE leading pro-immigration nation is undoubtedly Sweden, who has not only been open to EU citizens but has been unreservedly philanthropic at accepting the most at-risk people such as refugees. As a proportion to its size, Sweden accepts more immigrants than any other northern country. Finland is extremely reluctant to accept many refugees, despite the fact we have a declining population of workers. The upfront costs are too high, we think. David Cameron, the UK prime minister, is also on the other end of the immigration spectrum. He wants to even limit migrants from EU countries, an idea which brought universal condemnation from the other leaders at the summit.


David J. Cord
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