Dagfinn Høybråten

The Nordic Region may well be the world leader in green transition in the energy sector at the moment, but resting on our laurels is not an option. Not only do the biggest challenges still lie ahead – but they very much transcend sectors as well. The Paris Agreement and the planned EU Energy Union have convinced a range of big players to invest heavily in green transition, so much so that competition is increasing at a hitherto unprecedented rate.

This is the key message in Jorma Ollila’s strategic review of Nordic energy co-operation, “Strong today – Stronger tomorrow”, published in June.

Ollila warns that the Nordic countries may be too small on their own to cope with this level of international competition and poses the very pertinent question: Can the Nordic Region afford not to invest in closer co-operation on energy?

His answer is a resounding no – that is not an option.

In his report, Ollila calls on the Nordic countries to maximise the benefits of working together as a means of achieving their national targets as efficiently as possible. A strong collective voice is an integral part of this process, and improves the prospects of the Region exerting influence on new EU legislation and of disseminating knowledge of our Nordic visions and solutions around the rest of the world.

It is extremely gratifying that we were able to attract such an important ‘outsider’ as Jorma Ollila to review energy co-operation. As a former director of Nokia, he is a well-known name in the Nordic business world with extensive international contacts.

The idea behind ​​the Nordic Council of Ministers’ strategic reviews is to encourage political debate about the purpose of co-operation between the countries in the Region. They play a key role in the ‘New Nordic Region’ reforms, which I launched a couple of years back and which are now beginning to bear fruit.

Ollila’s review provides pointers to the future of Nordic co-operation, and his report provides a basis for the energy ministers to discuss, and eventually adopt, a new programme for the sector.

My ambitions are to make Nordic co-operation more effective, in particular to make it more politically relevant, and to identify new opportunities for us to work together. The energy report is an important extension of these endeavours and an excellent summary of the challenges ahead. Ollila presents proposals that are transferable to every area in which the Nordic countries work together, and that makes them worth looking at in other sectors, not just energy.

Everybody involved in Nordic co-operation should reflect on the answer to his question – Can we afford not to work together? – and then think about where co-operation can be even closer.

In our day-to-day work, let’s challenge each other and improve how we work together in ways that help us achieve national policy ambitions and, in doing so, re-energise Nordic co-operation for the good of everybody in the Region.

Dagfinn Høybråten
Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers