‘EU sings swansong’: Nordic states ‘don’t want to be limited by the union’
The EU is “singing its swansong” and it’s time for Scandinavia to “unhook” itself. That is the message from a group of EU skeptic politicians from five Nordic countries in an open letter published in a Swedish newspaper.
RT asked Lave Knud Broch – one of the authors of the letter – why there is a rising movement against the EU.
Lave Knud Broch: It is nothing new. In Denmark there has been opposition to the EU for a long time in various groups. For instance, the People’s Movement against the EU, which I represent, we have been represented in the EU Parliament since the first direct election in 1979. And Denmark voted ‘no’ to the Maastricht Treaty, voted ‘no’ to the euro. We had said ‘no’ to the EU defense policy in 2015. We also said ‘no’ to the EU super national justice policy and Denmark will actually leave the EU police agency Europol this year on May 1.
RT: Politicians from Iceland and Norway were among the authors of the letter. However, these two countries are not even in the EU. So what bothers them?
LKB: We have a very close connection. Denmark has [had] very close political ties to Norway and Iceland over centuries but our movement also has close ties to all our Scandinavian neighbor countries. It’s quite natural for us that we stand together among the Nordic countries and say that the EU is the wrong way to go, we want to live in democracy, we want to support Nordic welfare state. We want high environmental standards. And we also want the Nordic countries to look outwards in the world. We want to be international, not limited by the EU.
RT: Why do you think the EU has gone from blooming to, as you put it, ‘singing a swansong’?
LKB: The thing is that there is quite big opposition to the EU. If you look at the member states of the euro, there is not one single country that had a referendum about the euro. The only two EU-member-states that had referendum about the euro [are] Denmark and Sweden and we voted ‘no’. And then you have the Brexit situation – you have the UK leaving the EU… That’s natural that Denmark should leave [the EU], leave together with the UK. We have never wanted the construction of an ever closer union, a super-state. Many Danes want cooperation: we want to trade, travel, study, work across the borders, but we don’t want a super-state. A lot of politicians in Brussels, they haven’t understood the message from the people that people want more democracy.
RT: Almost 83 percent of the readers of the Swedish newspaper in which your letter was published, according to a poll, agreed with your words. So what are the chances that Scandinavian governments would listen to your calls?
LKB: The Scandinavian governments have to be pushed by the people. That’s why all Nordic countries have movements which are cross-political that work for different European cooperation and against the EU. In Denmark, we have the People’s Movement against the EU… We will push for referendum. But it doesn’t come by itself. It didn’t come by itself in the UK either… There was huge pressure for a referendum. And after many years of work, there came a referendum. The way to get the referendum is hard and continuous work for that.
RT: But if the EU loses three more states: Denmark, Finland, and Sweden… Wouldn’t it mean the end of the bloc?
LKB: If the other European countries want to create a closer union like a state, the United States of Europe, that is up to them… that’s their democratic choice. But I can’t support it, I would advise them not to do that because I think democracy would be lost in such a construction. It is not our choice. If Germany and France want to create a super-state, it’s their choice. But for the Scandinavian countries, the majority of people… don’t want the United States of Europe. Danes want practical cooperation… but not the super-state. In the future, we will see a division, some countries will walk towards a different European cooperation, and that is the swansong, that it will not be the same European Union, there will be some countries that want to continue down the road.
‘Without straitjacket of EU, Nordic countries could have different cooperation’
Ulla Klotzer, the coordinator of the European Futures Congresses, who was also part of the team which put together the letter published in the Swedish newspaper, told RT why Scandinavian countries are so critical of the EU.
“We are critical because we were critical before the referendum in 1994 where actually the EU critics were well off because the ‘yes’ side was 59 percent and they had 70 percent of the media, 80 percent of the money,” she said.
In Klotzer’s opinion, if EU critics had had more money and been given more attention in the media, the result of the vote could have been the opposite and “we might have had no membership.”
Politicians from non-EU nations, Iceland, and Norway have also signed the letter because they want to see closer cooperation within Nordic states, Klotzer said.
“They had strong EU-critical movements before our referendums. They had a referendum in Norway. Of course, they would like us to have stronger Nordic cooperation, as we had before, which was weakened desperately during EU times. The Nordic countries have a very good background concerning social security, health security, and also environmental issues. We could have quite a different cooperation, if we got rid of [straitjacket] of the EU.”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.