Under the Session of the Nordic Council in Helsinki was launched a new book Nordiska Gemenskaper by Johan Strang of the Centre for Nordic Studies (CENS) at the University of Helsinki. The book follows in the footsteps of the report Nordic co-operation on foreign and security policy (2009) by the former Norwegian foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg, and United Nordic Federation (2011) by the Swedish historian Gunnar Wetterberg. Where the former stressed gradual and voluntary co-operation, the latter advocated a more binding universal solution. Strang combines the pragmatism of Stoltenberg with the level of ambition and emphasis on openness and democracy of Wetterberg. Strang presents visions for the future, including a number of new and ground-breaking ideas.According to Johan Strang, there is a great deal of international interest in the Nordic Region, as well as a willingness among both the politicians and people of the Region to work even more closely together. Foreign and defence policy tops his list of areas he would like to see Nordic co-operation address. Perceiving a need to revitalise official co-operation, Strang proposes an open and flexible way of working in what he dubs "Nordic communities". He cites Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) as a potential model for other areas of co-operation at ministerial level.
According to Strang, widely shared Nordic culture and values would continue to form the basis of co-operation in the future. He feels, however, that visible, ambitious and result-oriented partnerships at top political level would enhance that popular sense of affinity. "A form of co-operation that focuses on tangible and visible results and new and flexible types of activity could lead to a new golden age of Nordic co-operation," he says. Based on the conclusion that Nordic co-operation is increasingly all about the Region's relationships with the rest of the world, he tops his list of suggestions for "communities" with foreign and defence policy, the environment and research. At present, all decisions at Nordic level have to be reached by consensus. "Let's move on from there. A more dynamic, visible and tangible form of partnership would call for solutions that allow the countries to opt in or out," he adds.