Irish Border After Brexit: An Expert on Norway-Sweden Explains How to Keep Things Smooth
Henrik Wenander, 24 Jan 18
       

shutterstock.com

In the north-western corner of Europe, cross-border mobility and trade is flourishing between Norway and Sweden. More than 25,000 people commute to work over the border, and the countries are among each other’s most important trade partners. One is an EU member; the other is not.

The efficiency and smooth running of the border may therefore seem surprising. The explanation lies in a combination of cultural preconditions and legal arrangements between the two countries. The question then arises: could these Norwegian-Swedish border arrangements serve as a model for other parts of Europe, such as post-Brexit Ireland?

Norway and Sweden have large cultural similarities, including each being able to understand the other’s language. The countries were even united between 1814 and 1905. Even though this union was dissolved, the countries continued to cooperate and have shared laws. In the 1950s, they entered a passport union together with the other Nordic states Denmark, Finland and Iceland, which allowed ID-free travel between these countries.

Norway and Sweden thus have close ties, characterised by a high degree of trust. This is indicated by the fact that several of the border crossings in the sparsely populated areas along the 1,630km long border are unattended.

This tradition of cooperation forms the base for the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers, where Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland work together on a wide range of policies. Within this framework, the countries have agreed on how to simplify matters for people moving across their borders. All Nordic citizens can freely live, study or work in any of the countries – you just have to register upon arrival. You will then get a civil registration number, which gives you access to the many social services available in the these highly regulated welfare states.

The accession to the EU by some of the countries, including Sweden, has somewhat limited the scope for formal Nordic agreements. Still, this form of cooperation is an arena for identifying and solving problems. Importantly, the Nordic cooperation includes not only the level of governments and ministers, but also working groups and expert panels on lower levels. This means that Norwegian and Swedish civil servants may establish contacts and simple ways of communication to solve problems, and thus establish a certain level of mutual confidence.

The EU connection

Even though cooperation within the Nordic framework is important, the decisive factor for the success of Norwegian-Swedish cross-border movement is undoubtedly the European Economic Area (EEA) treaty. This agreement between the EU and Norway (as well as Iceland and Liechtenstein) means that Norway is connected to the EU common market.

Norway can trade most goods with its EU neighbours, without customs duties being levied. There are, however, some exceptions, such as agricultural products and food.

Norway and Sweden share a 1,630km long border.  shutterstock.com

Norway has also adopted EU legislation on coordination of social security, so that that people who move or commute between it and the EU qualify for benefits in case of unemployment or illness. In spite of not being an EU country, Norway has even joined the Schengen Agreement on abolishing border controls. In this way, the free movement between Norway and Sweden that has existed since the 1950s has been retained and reinforced by European cooperation.

Of course, there are occasional problems for cross-border mobility between the countries. For example, people who move between Norway and Sweden may not always know which country to turn to when it comes to taxation or social security.

People and businesses that move across the border may also occasionally experience disadvantages. Examples include delayed decisions on unemployment benefits for former cross-border commuters. However, the Nordic cooperation on various levels provides a forum for discussing and solving problems relating to administrative practices or national legislation.

Sign in to view full article

       
Petition Urges Xi Jinping to End Forced Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners
NEW YORK—A petition that has garnered nearly 6,000 signatures in just 2 days calls for President Donald Trump to help ...
Bowen Xiao
Mon, 10 Apr 17
Young Workers Expect Their Older Colleagues to Get Out of The Way
There are many names for the narratives pitting the older generation against the younger: Gen-Y versus Baby Boomers, “Generation Me” ...
Michael North
Wed, 15 Mar 17
The Economics Behind Uber’s New Pricing Model
Uber is changing the way it calculates fares, moving to a system that charges what customers are “willing to pay”, ...
Jordi McKenzie
Thu, 1 Jun 17
Why Women Make The Best Stock Traders
Female traders can be far more selective, as they spend more time evaluating before making a trade and have a ...
Peter Swan
Thu, 9 Mar 17
You Too Could Be Multilingual – It’s Just About Unlocking The Skills Inside
Think back to when you first started learning a foreign language. For many readers it was probably French, German or ...
Christopher Timothy McGuirk
Thu, 6 Apr 17
An Epoch Times Survey
AcuSLIM - Acupuncture Weight Loss Programme
At Epoch Times, We Care :o)
BUCHERER
Sports Elements
Sports Elements