Northern Future Forum
Northern Future Forum is an annual, informal meeting of prime ministers, policy innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders from the 9 nations of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Initially referred to as UK-Nordic-Baltic Summit, the name Northern Future Forum was introduced at the second meeting in Stockholm.
The meetings were initiated after a November 2010 visit to the UK by the Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt, Following the UK General Election of May and the Premiership of David Cameron as leader of UK coalition government, for UK and Nordic-Baltic Eight nations to have a summit.
The Northern Future Forum was established to be a more relaxed meeting than usual international summits, with more of a collegiate atmosphere where leaders are encouraged to learn and interact with experts in the topics under discussion, rather than delivering set-piece speeches or engaging in behind-the-scenes trading.
On the 19–20 January London hosted the inaugural UK-Nordic-Baltic meeting at Whitechapel Gallery in the East End of London. The first summit hosted 120 participants and touched on themes of improving business ties in the region, with a focus on low carbon and high-tech industries. Other topics included how best to foster equality, wellbeing and competitiveness in the economic climate during the 2008–2012 global recession.
- Technology and Innovation
- Jobs, Family and Gender Equality
- Green Economy and Sustainable Business
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron ended the first summit calling for a new alliance of Northern European nations.
The second summit on the 8–9 February, was hosted in Stockholm. The second meeting saw the name changed to the "Northern Future Forum". The event was hosted in Fotografiska, The Swedish Museum of Photography, in the Södermalm district of the city.
Conference topics intended to focus on long-term sustainable growth were:
- How do we get more women into top positions and more women entrepreneurs?
- How do we get senior citizens to stay longer in the labour force?
The third summit was held on February 27–28, 2013 in Riga, Latvia. The opening and closing plenary were held in the Latvian Museum of Decorative Arts and Design with discussions and a media centre at Hotel Konventa sēta.
Two main issues chosen for the Forum:
- Can the green economy be competitive?
- Addressing the digital divide in society
The Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, was unable to attend due to domestic political reasons, and was represented by Olli-Pekka Heinonen, state secretary to the PM’s bureau, and state secretary to the Finnish Economy and Employment Ministry Marja Rislakki. The British PM David Cameron returned to his country shortly after the opening plenary meetings, replaced by Planning Minister Nick Boles. David Cameron met with Latvian PM Valdis Dombrovskis the evening before the forum opening in order to discuss Latvia and the UK’s bilateral relations, including economic cooperation and problems within the EU.
At the closing plenary in Riga 2013, Marja Rislakki, State Secretary of the Ministry of Employment and Economy of Finland made a proposal to hold the Northern Future Forum 2014 in Helsinki, Finland. The NFF is due to convene in Helsinki during November 2014.
Media commentary as to wider implications of the Northern Future Forum have been varied, with the Swedish press being quite skeptical during the second meeting in Stockholm. The Local (Sweden) stated that the "meeting might have a longer-term strategic purpose, at least for British Prime Minister David Cameron: to forge a long-term alliance between the Northern European countries," and writing that there appeared to be a "risk that David Cameron wants the northern partnership to challenge Brussels."
The pro-EU liberal Dagens Nyheter suggested that "Behind the scenes, this “Northern Alliance” will also debate ways to frustrate a “French model” for the European economy." A Dagens Nyheter Editorial described the second assembly as a "meeting with risks", seeing it as being potentially divisive within the EU.
The Baltic Times saw the forum as a mirror to the Mediterranean Union proposed by Nicholas Sarkozy with Nouvelle-Europe comparing it to other groupings of EU members such as the Visegrád Group.
The Lithuania Tribune noted that the forum is unique as a pan-European meeting in that there are no negotiations, and no conditional agreements reached during the event. Stating that given the contemporary European sovereign-debt crisis the discussion topics at the Stockholm meeting rendered the group a rather peripheral event. However, the article also suggested that the informal nature of the forum raised an antidote to increasing mistrust between European nations in the wake of the eurozone crisis.
Northern Europe, UN region of Europe which covers a broadly similar geographic area.
- FCO Archive, Nordic Baltic Summit 2011
- Number 10 archive
- Government Offices of Sweden archive
- Official homepage of the 2013 Riga Northern Future Forum
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