TL: A Nordic Twist [Redux]

Devvy

Donor
Is this timeline dead or just on hiatus?

It's not dead, it's on hiatus at the moment. Without boring you, work is getting busy again, lots of stuff going on "in real life", as well as the Euros providing the English an opportunity to finally cheer about something. Will probably be back in a month or two.
 
The Finns were the only ones to not get the correct number button for their language, "Suomen", which only led to further frustration in Finland - rightly or wrongly.
Ah, how I love to nitpick about cases: this here is the genitive case of the language, "Suomi" would be the nominative case and thus the correct one in this instance. (Also Suomi = "Finland" vs. suomi = "Finnish [language]", but in this case could be either, I guess.)
 

Devvy

Donor
Ah, how I love to nitpick about cases: this here is the genitive case of the language, "Suomi" would be the nominative case and thus the correct one in this instance. (Also Suomi = "Finland" vs. suomi = "Finnish [language]", but in this case could be either, I guess.)

Thanks, fixed! :)

Not even going to pretend I have an inkling of understanding of Finnish.....!
 
Chapter 9: Hearts and Minds (mid-late 1990s), Part 2

Devvy

Donor
Chapter 9: The Nordic Currency

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The Euro currency was a strong inspiration for the Nordic countries

By the 1990s, the path to the European currency (now the "Euro") was firmly laid out - even if it was to the dislike of the United Kingdom. Attempts had been made before; the Latin Monetary Union had been in place until the First World War (as had the Scandinavian Monetary Union closer to home), but this would be a currency governed by a European government rather than the previous intergovernmental efforts. And similarly to the European Union, the Nordic Confederation (or more precisely, it's member states) sought a unified currency in order to stimulate cross border trade as well as reduce administration and transaction costs associated with fluctuating currencies.

However, the 1990s financial crisis - particularly in Sweden - threatened to knock efforts off course, and early efforts would only see promises (instead of actual steps) to introduce a shared currency within the Nordic Confederation treaty. It would only be in 1997 that real practical work would begin, with the Nordic group of the 7 economic ministers to establish strategy, given that Estonia and Latvia were in the midst of acceding to membership. Although there were reservations about how the currency would function, and the emergency cases (such as the Swedish banking collapse), support in principle for a shared currency in principle was unanimous, in order to try and keep the Nordic economy on a par with the rest of Europe. Following the example of the European Union, which had provided much of the inspiration for the now Nordic Confederation - originally a "Nordic version of the European Community", 1996 saw the full legalisation of capital movements; money could flow between the Nordic states (at that point excluding Estonia and Latvia) completely freely, whilst the responsible ministers agreed to try and better harmonise financial and budgetary policy between the countries.

By the middle of 1998, political agreement had been made on the Nordic currency, broadly following the example of the European Union's "Euro" currency (which had just been named that after several years as just the "Ecu"). An accounting Nordic currency would be introduced, floating against the national currencies, before then phasing it in for use in the nations, and then replacing the currencies. Strict controls were to be maintained over borrowing (less then 60% debt-to-GDP) and no long-term budget deficits (generally agreed to be more then 3 years these days) - largely reflecting the strict governmental budgeting that now prevailed in Nordic nations. Although Sweden had run at approximately 70%, in the aftermath of the banking rescue, the phased introduction of the Nordic currency would give Sweden time to adjust, ideally following the Norwegian example of reducing their debt-to-GDP ratio. 60% had also been used in the Euro example, but the Nordic countries wanted to ensure that the new mutual currency would be viable and stable long-term, and stay well away from the "Italian malaise" of large debt-to-GDP issues that had quietly caused consternation in the European Union with regards to the Euro currency. The small number of participants, however, allowed discussion and mutual acceptance, rather then the strict rules enforced within the EU.

A large debate ensued regarding the name. The currencies in use in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland were all called the krone/krona - literally "crown", as was the future member Estonia's kroon. However, public sentiment - especially in Finland, but also notable in Estonia, Latvia and to a lesser extent Iceland, favoured a less "monarchist" and more neutral name. Daler/Thaler was considered, due to the shared use across Scandinavia, but many did not want to share the same name as the US dollar, and sought for something a little more Nordic, and equally suggestions of "Nords" or other invented names lacked credibility it was felt. Eventually, the name of an old coin - the skilling was agreed on, with the "penny" as the 1/100 subdivision - although the penny rapidly became only relevant in accounting terms, and would soon see little usage by the public at large.

The skilling was a historical Scandinavian coin, and initially minted in Denmark during the time of the Kalmar Union in the 15th Century, although the later Swedish revolt and currency reform meant that skillings remained the currency of Denmark and Norway only. Later on in the 17th Century, it was again minted in Denmark, Norway and Sweden - for which Finland also used it during it's time as part of Sweden and likewise Iceland when it was Danish. It also had the naming advantage that it would be the only "shilling" in Europe, with Austria relinquishing theirs in order to join the Euro - the other other shillings globally were only in use in various East African nations. Although the name of currency is the Nordic Skilling (NSK), internationally it had become known as the Shilling due to anglicisation. The symbol used, "Ꞩ", was an S with an almost horizontal line through it, marking it aside from the vertical line ($) used for dollars; whilst the character was already present in most electronic fonts, it required awkward codes to use until the character became available directly on European keyboards in the later 2000s.

Introduction of the new Nordic Skilling began in 2003, with the currency becoming the official currency, and the national currencies becoming de facto sub-divisions of the skilling at agreed exchange rates in the five Nordic nations - Estonia and Latvia were held back until becoming full member states of the Confederation. All banks, accounting work, electronic transfers were then denominated in skillings, with only cash remaining in it's previous form. Shops began to dual label items in both skillings and the previous currency, with credit/debit cards paying in skillings, and cash in the prior currency. Bank, savings and other financial accounts were switched to be denominated in NSK early on in the process, as shops began to dual-label prices, although some requested to keep their accounts in the national currencies as long as possible before switching. In tandem with this, many of the large Nordic banks set up new branches in Estonia and Latvia, expanding to the new markets, and providing finance and unified Nordic structures for the new countries - which were only just over 10 years old.

A year later, in 2004, the cash rollout began. Coins were denominated in Ꞩ1, Ꞩ2, Ꞩ5, Ꞩ10 and Ꞩ25 - with no coinage for pennies. Cash transactions would be rounded (Ꞩ1 being approx €0.11) to the nearing skilling; previous national "ore" coins (1/100 subdivisions of krone/krona) had already been discontinued in several countries for various amounts. Banknotes for Ꞩ50, Ꞩ100, Ꞩ250, Ꞩ500 and Ꞩ1000 would also be rolled out with a variety of designs, although in contrast to the European version, there were no national differences - all currency was fully pan-Nordic. The coinage had the Nordic Confederation flag on one side, and around the outside quoted the value of the coin in all 5 Nordic languages (later 7 languages in coins minted post-accession), whilst the obverse merely showed the numeric value of the coin. The banknotes, with the larger area, had a greater breadth of design and featured a selection of well known sites from across the Nordics whilst making efforts to stay away from purely national symbols and people, whilst also utilising the extra space to also show the Faroese and Greenlandic languages.

Although the designs were to be rotated every 10 years with new revisions, dissatisfaction from the smaller regions and new members led to a new strategy for the 2010s currency issue; fully plastic notes would be embraced, and the theme of "recognisable sites" continued on the bank notes (ie. Jelling Stones, Geysir/Strokkur, Oresund Bridge, Olavinlinna, Viru Gate, etc) combined with artwork and flora and fauna from across the Nordic Confederation. However, the former national Central banks would be granted the right to print their own banknotes, under a similar system to the regional banknotes in the United Kingdom. The designs would use the same design for the front of the banknote as the main Nordic set, whilst the rear was free to be designed as wished. The main difference from the UK example was that the banknotes were completely legally acceptable across the entire Nordic Confederation, and recognisable as such due to the common front design. By 2020 however, the regional banknotes were in decline with their future uncertain again, due to the cost of printing them and maintaining them, as well as the pan-Nordic decline in cash and rise of electronic money and the "Swishing" (a play on the name "Skilling") mobile app for e-payments.

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This chapter has been unfinished in drafts for months, and now have some time during holiday season. I searched long and hard to find a suitable currency name (one that was historical, sounded appropriate, and was relatively "unique"; not sure ); the Scandinavian skilling seems to have been in use in all 5 Nordic countries, and I like that a unique currency identifier is suitably available.

There will of course be linguistic challenges with fitting it in to national languages; I don't think the declension will be pretty in Icelandic, and I'm guessing it might be the same for Finnish/Estonian, but I think the name is best available compromise between the countries.
 
From the Finnish perspective the skilling is not easy word for us to use. There is old word in Finnish 'killinki' which of course derives from the same root word and it means money/coin, but it is more a word for poor peoples' last money than representation of wealth. Anyway, 'killinki' would probably be the slang term for the currency in Finland (or skilari if you live in Helsinki). Daler/Thaler/taaleri would be sound more like a currency for the Finnish ear and 'taaleri' is easier to pronounce.
 

Devvy

Donor
From the Finnish perspective the skilling is not easy word for us to use. There is old word in Finnish 'killinki' which of course derives from the same root word and it means money/coin, but it is more a word for poor peoples' last money than representation of wealth. Anyway, 'killinki' would probably be the slang term for the currency in Finland (or skilari if you live in Helsinki). Daler/Thaler/taaleri would be sound more like a currency for the Finnish ear and 'taaleri' is easier to pronounce.

How does the word "euro" work in Finland, I'm assuming that doesn't particularly work easily unless there's a stroke of luck?

As you suggest, the phrase "skilari" (or just skili?) sounds good for local use. Fundamentally, most people will write "NSK" and then the local pronunciation is kinda immaterial, I think you'd end up with the same in Iceland as well for grammatical reasons.
 
How does the word "euro" work in Finland, I'm assuming that doesn't particularly work easily unless there's a stroke of luck?

As you suggest, the phrase "skilari" (or just skili?) sounds good for local use. Fundamentally, most people will write "NSK" and then the local pronunciation is kinda immaterial, I think you'd end up with the same in Iceland as well for grammatical reasons.
Euro as a word is quite simple for the Finnish to pronounce. Euro is a funny word in a sense that it sounds quite different in different European languages. For the skilling -word the sk -sound at the beginning and the use of letter g at the end makes it hard especially for the older Finnish people who do not have education for the foreign languages and are living interior Finland. In this time line the people are probably more used to these kind of words than OTL as Nordic integration has introduced Swedish/scandinavian words for decades already.
 

Devvy

Donor
Euro as a word is quite simple for the Finnish to pronounce. Euro is a funny word in a sense that it sounds quite different in different European languages. For the skilling -word the sk -sound at the beginning and the use of letter g at the end makes it hard especially for the older Finnish people who do not have education for the foreign languages and are living interior Finland. In this time line the people are probably more used to these kind of words than OTL as Nordic integration has introduced Swedish/scandinavian words for decades already.

Thanks. Local Finns I guess would probably just drop the "ng" from the end and say something along the lines of "skilli" which is close enough, and hopefully by now ITTL most can manage the "sk" sound. "Skilli" should fit Icelandic grammar nicely as well.
 
From the Finnish perspective the skilling is not easy word for us to use. There is old word in Finnish 'killinki' which of course derives from the same root word and it means money/coin, but it is more a word for poor peoples' last money than representation of wealth. Anyway, 'killinki' would probably be the slang term for the currency in Finland (or skilari if you live in Helsinki). Daler/Thaler/taaleri would be sound more like a currency for the Finnish ear and 'taaleri' is easier to pronounce.

I would say that "killinki" would come to dominate in most of the country. I can't see the "sk" sound in the beginning surviving everyday use. It does sound silly, in any case, and I would expect the Finns to oppose the word when the name for the currency is chosen. "Taaleri" would be a more believable word for money, and even krona/"kruunu" would be better, monarchist implications notwithstanding. There is a tendency to call the state "kruunu" in Finland anyway, even if it is by now seen as somewhat archaic.
 
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Devvy

Donor
I would say that "killinki" would come to dominate in most of the country. I can't see the "sk" sound in the beginning surviving everyday use. It does sound silly, in any case, and I would expect the Finns to oppose the word when the name for the currency is chosen. "Taaleri" would be a more believable word for money, and even krona/"kruunu" would be better, monarchist implications notwithstanding. There is a tendency to call the state "kruunu" in Finland anyway, even if it is by now seen as somewhat archaic.

No! XD XD

I specifically avoided krona as on a previous thread you had said (I'm like 99% sure it was you) that the use of "krona/krone" in Finland would be a poor choice considering the monarchist name, and something a little less royal would be better. Hence my long search for a better name, but I take the comments about integration in to language.

On a personal note, I'd prefer to not end up with yet another currency using a dollar/thaler derived name! :) If you've any other suggestions, happy to listen and adapt the previous chapter, not being a Finnish/Estonian speaker it's a bit hard to visualise which words will fit in at least semi-well to the languages.

Out of interest, does the English derivative of "shilling" work better in a Finnish tongue?
 
No! XD XD

I specifically avoided krona as on a previous thread you had said (I'm like 99% sure it was you) that the use of "krona/krone" in Finland would be a poor choice considering the monarchist name, and something a little less royal would be better. Hence my long search for a better name, but I take the comments about integration in to language.

Yes, I think I said that "krona" would be opposed by the Finns due to its connection with monarchism. But if "skilling" was the only other option, I could see the Finns accept "kruunu", even if reluctantly...

On a personal note, I'd prefer to not end up with yet another currency using a dollar/thaler derived name! :) If you've any other suggestions, happy to listen and adapt the previous chapter, not being a Finnish/Estonian speaker it's a bit hard to visualise which words will fit in at least semi-well to the languages.

There's always "mark"/"markka", which the Finns would consider the first option anyway... Or call the currency "fyrk"/"fyrkka", it would be nice and funny.

Out of interest, does the English derivative of "shilling" work better in a Finnish tongue?

It would be even worse, as then the Finns would call it "sillinki", a word that literally looks like a comedy currency used mainly to buy and sell herring (silli).
 
I would say that "killinki" would come to dominate in most of the country. I can't see the "sk" sound in the beginning surviving everyday use. It does sound silly, in any case, and I would expect the Finns to oppose the word when the name for the currency is chosen. "Taaleri" would be a more believable word for money, and even krona/"kruunu" would be better, monarchist implications notwithstanding. There is a tendency to call the state "kruunu" in Finland anyway, even if it is by now seen as somewhat archaic.

Taaleri would become Taala in no time, which is a bit awkward as it has already been the colloquial word for (US) dollar for some time.

I don’t think Skilling would be that problematic, as no one would use the official name, but instead, as usual, develop abbreviations such as kili, skili & skigi etc. plus of course, Killinki as you wrote. I mean, even euro is usually shortened to ege/eke in common speech. :D

Anyways, a nice and enjoyable timeline!
 
Chapter 10: The 2000s

Devvy

Donor
Chapter 10: The 2000s

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At Troll Antarctic station, with Nordic culture well on display.

The 2000s were an evolution rather than a revolution for the Nordic Confederation; the last 30 years had seen a swift pace in terms of Nordic integration, with the introduction of the Nordic single market and many feats of "soft" integration such as the telephony system. The rate of integration now slowed and turned to smaller technical unifying mechanisms, encouraging "pan-Nordic" operations by companies, and also member enlargement - 2005 was a major milestone, and saw the full accession of Estonia and Latvia to the Nordic Confederation. This had been a major foreign policy goal for Estonia ever since independence from the Soviet Union; their flag had even been changed to embrace the Nordic Cross design to try and hammer down their place as a Nordic people in the view of the "classic" five Nordic nations. Nowadays, Estonia and Latvia are considered the "new Nordics", in contrast to the "historic Nordics". The move also reduced the perceived "Scandinavian power"; despite the requirement for unanimity in decisions, the ability of Denmark, Norway and Sweden to push their agenda forward had been noted, especially in the 1990s. The addition of Estonia and Latvia allowed Finland and Iceland to counterbalance the Scandinavian big three.

Part of the trade off for Estonian and Latvian accession to the Nordic Confederation, and the business opportunities for existing Nordic businesses - Swedish banks in particular were quick to establish themselves early on in the new members, was a mechanism for subsidising the two nations. Part of the reason for the 12 year application process, was to give time to subsidise and modernise the two economies, prepare them for membership and market competition, and allow the Nordic structures to evolve better subsidy processes. Transfer payments would now occur from the existing 5 Nordic countries - rather rich in comparison - to Estonia and Latvia, and thankfully due to their population sizes it would be far from the most expensive expenditure for any of the supporting 5. The evolving Nordic Regional Fund, would be further bolstered, but would also be spending a significant portion of funds on the new entrants to improve infrastructure, whilst targeted subsidies were available to companies to set up factories in Estonia and Latvia to provide job opportunities.

The establishment of a joint Nordic Antarctic Research station, was built on the previous Norwegian "Troll" station. Although technically owned by the Norwegian Government, operationally the station was jointly funded jointly via the Nordics. The large all-year research station was a further experiment in renewable energy, with a large solar panel array on the roof in order to reduce the need for oil generators all year round, and wind turbines outside - although experiencing 24/7 sunshine during summer, solar power would be little use for the winter months. Batteries inside would absorb fluctuations and excess generated electricity, with any further excess being used to melt snow for usable water. The research station offers year-round accommodation for up to 14 people, and conducts a great deal of research on air quality, ozone & UV levels, weather and other Earth sciences research. Researchers are selected from a pan-Nordic programme, with university research also conducted.

Some action would be taken in reaction to global events however. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, and following tsunami killed almost 900 citizens of the Nordic countries who were in the area on holiday at the time. A Nordic Confederation sponsored set of flights operated mostly from Thailand, but also a few other countries such as Sri Lanka, worked to repatriate many of the affected Nordic citizens to Stockholm; onwards domestic commercial connections could then fly them closer to home from Arlanda airport. Over half were Swedes, but many Finns and Norwegians were also in the affected group. Such united foreign action has not always been possible however; the stark realities of a westward leaning Iceland, Norway & Denmark with close relations with the United States, United Kingdom and NATO in particularly does not mesh easily with Finnish-Russian relations in particular, but also Estonian and Latvian concerns (despite being in NATO as well) over Russian actions and requirements to "not provoke the bear". Such balancing acts has done as much as anything else to interrupt any floated ideas towards greater "federalisation" of the Nordic Confederation due to the stark differences in foreign and defence arrangements. Despite this, one major foreign policy goal signed off in 2009 was the introduction of a Nordic-Canadian free trade agreement, the first major deal outside Europe.

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The Nordic embassies at Berlin; the Estonian and Latvian flags are just out of shot.

Other smaller co-ordination efforts continued to evolve. The unification of Germany, and subsequent desire for Nordic embassies to follow the move of the German Government to Berlin led to a suggestion to co-locate all Nordic embassies, with a shared services building. A Finnish architecture firm won the design competition, with a joint construction project beginning in the late 1990s. The shared site would feature separate embassy buildings for all 7 states - the 5 historically Nordic states, as well as new applicants Estonia and Latvia who were on their path to full membership, reflecting the sovereignty of each state although acting collaboratively. The shared services building would feature the main canteen / cafe, joint exhibitions, as well as consular services such as Nordic visa processing. Following the success of the German embassies, the programme began to be replicated in other countries as redevelopment became required. London was soon followed, with redevelopment in the new Nine Elms development to feature a large new embassy for the US Government. The Nordic Governments in 2013 announced the desire to build a new "Nordic Embassies Area" in Nine Elms, establishing a new "diplomatic quarter" south of the river in the areas, with the Dutch considering the move as well. With aging building in the United States (in DC), a similar Nordic Embassy complex is being mooted in the USA, as well as in Poland, Australia and New Zealand - the latter two specifically for cost-saving reasons for the embassy. One further agreement by the Nordic Seven will also involve sharing Consulate-Generals for consular functions in various province/state cities in the United States, Australia and Canada; all geographically large countries with scattered population centres (and the capital city not being largest city), meaning that in areas where a Nordic citizen's home nation has no embassy, a citizen could use the services of any other Nordic embassy present - which is often Denmark or Sweden.

Reforms also occurred in the logistics sector, with pricing no longer allowed to be influenced by internal Nordic borders - pricing must be influenced by distance and/or transportation costs, accelerating a move in Denmark, Norway and Sweden to form joint logistics and mail companies (such as PostNord). Many of the road transport systems were unified; subjects like vehicle inspection checks now sat on a single pan-Nordic database, efforts were underway to create a unified vehicle registration plate system and cross-compatible electronic tolling systems for highways and city centres. A single driving license system for Nordic driving licenses allowed easier cross-border penalisation for driving infractions, and awarding of "penalty points".

One of the large socio-political changes in the 2000s was the growing issue of climate change, and the beginning of significant changes in energy sources. Ever since the early 1990s, the electric grids of Norway, Sweden, Finland and eastern Denmark had been linked in to a super grid, but the early 2000s saw the expansion of this to western Denmark, Estonia and Latvia - in the example of the last two, fulfilling foreign policy aims to spread their energy sources away from Russia. The Faroes and Iceland were later connected to the super grid via undersea cables, to share electrical loads - something the United Kingdom has hooked in to via an interconnector to the Faroes, whilst an extension to Greenland is being evaluated for the future in order to reduce the Greenlandic dependency on oil plants and provide a trans-Atlantic interconnection to Canada. Historically, hydroelectric power had been a significant energy source for Iceland, Norway and Sweden, but huge advances in wind power generation have occurred in 6 Nordic states (except Iceland, which is already fully powered with renewable electricity), with wind energy now supplying around 12% of all electricity in the 6 states. Growing interest in solar energy has led to small increases in solar power capacity in Skane (Sweden) and areas of Denmark. Nuclear energy has been a major point of deliberation, with much of Swedish and Finnish energy dependant on nuclear energy - and Finland building an underground nuclear waste depository with co-funding by Sweden in order for joint use. Nowadays, over half of the produced electricity in the Nordic electrical market is generated by hydroelectric power - mostly in Norway and northern Sweden, with some from Finland and Iceland. A fifth of electricity is nuclear-sourced - mostly by Sweden and Finland, with aims to grow this to a quarter and reduce fossil fuel usage (whilst retaining an element of it for demand management), whilst just over a tenth is sourced from wind power - mostly by Denmark and Sweden, with notable contributions by Finland and Norway. Further investments are expected in wind power, especially in the North Sea, whilst Denmark and southern Sweden (Skane) are now investing in solar power. Excess electricity is either used to supplement district heating sources, or exported to Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Immigration to the Nordics also significantly changed in the 2000s. In the 20th Centrury, intra-Nordic migration had been one of top sources for national immigration, whilst the Yugoslav Wars had provided a large stream of displaced people and Turkey provided a steady stream of educated migrants too. The accession of Estonia and Latvia to the Nordic Confederation provided a new stream of migrants in to the Nordics, whilst the accession of eastern European countries to the European Union also facilitated eastern Europeans to migrate to the Nordics under streamlined European-Nordic migration rules. In the 2000s however, the patterns shifted; Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan became the primary source of migrants and asylum seekers, whilst Syria would rocket to the top for a few years during the early stages of the Syrian Civil War, and the changes spurred new border controls on the Nordics, particularly on the Danish-German borders, where border patrols became far more visible and checks became stricter. All asylum seekers technically needed to provide photographic identification to enter the Nordics - which often was difficult to provide for asylum seekers and displaced people. Massed groups attempted to break through the Danish/German border against Danish police - backed up by seconded Swedish police, and led to a war of words between the European Union and the Nordics as the mainland Europeans were blamed for freely allowing migrants to pass through en route to the Nordics by some parts of the media. For the first time in decades, or even centuries, the German/Danish border is now reinforced in several areas to try and control illegal immigration. Smaller differences also included smaller numbers from south east Asia, and in Finland particularly, Russians. Across the Nordics, by 2020, roughly 12-15% of all residents are foreign-born, creating challenges for integration and social acceptance.

For Estonia and Latvia, it proved a trial by fire. Much of the late 1990s and 2000s had seen the equivalent of billions of Euros in Nordic Skillings invested in the area; much of it to modernise infrastructure to allow industry and business to thrive there and provide balance to the inevitable onslaught of the wider Nordic business. A spine of dual carriageway "motorways" were provided by modernising roads. Major rail routes were electrified, water treatment plants improved, and district heating networks improved. In to this came the unification of telephone networks early on, and the introduction of Nordic mobile networks, whilst Nordic banks especially moved in wholesale to service the new Nordic markets. Schools often began to teach Swedish as a foreign language instead of Russian - much to the displeasure of the Russian diaspora in both countries and Russia itself, but was encouraged by Estonian and Latvian Governments as part of their "de-Sovietisation". One of the biggest shifts was the introduction of two overseas car manufacturers, who set up production plants in Latvia to produce for the Nordic market and escape import formalities. Tallink (who operate shipping routes in the Baltic Sea) and Energia (oil shale refining), both based in Estonia, are the two most well known new Nordic businesses which have transitioned in to the free Nordic market.

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Not quite enough here to break it in to two chapters for early and late 2000s, so apologies for the sizeable chapter!

The Nordic embassy complexes are based on the Nordic embassies in Berlin (linky). The part on energy is a small embellishment on OTL; mostly the integration and especially including Iceland in that. The immigration stuff; I can see some potential for the Nordic to end up like the UK; a prime migratory target, with the Nordic blaming the mainland for allowing all the migrants through. Whilst I don't see the Danish-German border ending up with a US/Mexico style wall, I can see the potential for some areas to have a harder border.
 
Chapter 11: The 2013 Referendum

Devvy

Donor
Chapter 11: The Finnish Referendum

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Helsinki would see yet another Nordic referendum - but this time with decidedly larger potential consequences.

The 1990s and 2000s had seen a significant political realignment in Finnish politics. The introduction of green-focussed political parties had made their presence known, whilst the rise of the more nationalist "True Finns" party had been buoyed by the perceived "Scandinavian" focus of the Nordic Confederation. It was a rather tumultuous time in Finnish politics; despite the economic advantages of the Nordic single market and new opportunities for Finnish industry (and on a European scale thanks to the Nordic-European agreement), the collapse of the Soviet Union and faltering Russian economy had meant that many tradition Finnish economic links had disappeared quickly, although the growing stability in Russia has led to many calls from Finland for a new Nordic free trade agreement with Russia - received luke warmly by the Scandinavian nations. The status of Finland, largely separated from Denmark, Norway and Sweden by the Baltic Sea also meant that much of the Nordic integration efforts had had less effect in Finland, whilst acts such as the Nordic Agricultural Fund, although also subsidising Finnish farmers, primarily benefited the farmers of southern Sweden and Denmark where the weather was more favourable. In addition to this, some felt their language was treated with inferiority compared to the mainland Scandinavian languages, with (S)venska always taking priority over (s)uomi, and the currency name of "Skilling" paying little attention to Finnish pronunciation and grammar, despite being historically present in Swedish Finland.

The Finnish Parliamentary Election in 2011 brought several matters to a head, with the nationalist True Finns party winning almost 23% of the seats (2nd place), and making the party almost impossible to ignore with regards to government formation. Their headline policy was, however, anathema to the largest party, the Social Democrats, in that along with it's "Nordic scepticism" it also called for a referendum on the continued membership of Finland in the Nordic Confederation. Many of the True Finns party members looked back on the 1990s referendum establishing the Nordic Confederation as a mistake; the referendum had been taken shortly after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, leaving the Finnish economy in a delicate place, and whilst the Nordic Confederation may have been set up with the best of intentions, many felt it primarily served Scandinavian interests rather than the wider Nordic bloc - although many Finnish companies had benefited from the accession of Estonia to the Nordic Confederation, expanding to operate in the country given it's linguistic familiarity to Finnish.

The result of the Finnish government formation negotiations continued, but the size of the True Finns parliamentary party meant that in the end it just couldn't be ignored. A landmark agreement saw the True Finns enter government, with an agreement stipulating 2013 as the year to hold an in/out Nordic membership referendum. The move caused a media bombshell in the rest of the Nordics, provoking strong opinions; Finland was one of the non-Scandinavian larger countries, who helped balance power against the Scandinavian nations, whilst were also an integral "historic Nordic nation". Any withdrawal of Finland would see Sweden, Denmark and Norway influence within the Nordics grow further, whilst also severely damaging Nordic prestige on the world stage given the global perception of the Nordics as a well operated international group with little internal tussle. On the flip side, the True Finns saw better trade opportunities outside the somewhat protectionist Nordic single market, much larger and closer trade relations with a growing Russian economy and the other economic giants to the east; compatible rail systems meant that Finland could easily send rail freight all the way to the Far East. With regards to the Nordic Confederation, it was paralysed; the potential departure of Finland would substantially change the balance sheet for many of it's programmes, and whilst there was little point in funding integration projects in Finland if it was about to leave, but equally at the moment Finland couldn't be financially disadvantaged against the other countries lest it play in to the Finnish viewpoint of the Scandinavian nature of the Confederation and swing further votes against the Confederation.

The two sides "Nordic" and "Independence" (as termed in foreign media) began campaigning swiftly. The independence side promoted Finnish specialities in forestry and high-value industries such as electronics and chemicals manufacturing, and the global appeal of such products. They simultaneously advertised Finland as "under Swedish rule for centuries and Russian rule for a century; let's not hand over sovereignty again!", whilst also highlighting the demographic changes occurring in Finland as a result of immigration from both European and other areas of the world. The Nordic side attempted to combat this; Finland had transitioned effectively to part of the Nordic market and enjoyed direct access to a large and unified Nordic market, and extended access to the European market via the Nordic-European agreement - something the Independence side could be replicated independently as part of a free trade agreement with both sides. Where the Nordic side had the advantage was the stability of sticking with the status quo; no second financial upheaval due to another currency switch, with the Nordic Confederation ruling out a formal currency union with Finland if it wasn't part of the Nordic Confederation; from Nordic political circles, most respected the referendum was happening, but insisted "leave means leave" if the Finns voted to withdraw, highlighting the incompatibility between Finland leaving the Nordic Confederation and continuing to make use of Nordic services such as the currency. Likewise, the growing unification of telecommunications (such as the telephony system) meant that Finns in other Nordic countries could easily, and cheaply, stay in touch with their families back in Finland which would be lost by leaving the confederation.

There were many further facets to the political question, but most centred around Finnish debates between themselves, with the Nordic Confederation (centred in Gothenburg, Sweden) mostly staying out of the debate, wary it could be perceived as Swedish impinging on a Finnish domestic matter, although Russia made clear their interest in an independent Finland and an offer of closer economic relations. The older generation were seen to be more in favour of leaving the Nordic Confederation, whilst the younger generation were more in favour of remaining inside. Finns living and working in other Nordic countries were, predictably, heavily in favour of remaining within the confederation, considering their immigration status was underwritten by the Nordic system. Although the independence side pointed out that the Nordic free movement and passport union predated the Nordic Confederation, and free movement within the Nordics was something they were in favour of, they were unable to state how they would guarantee the rights of Finns abroad or limit the demographic changes they were against in Finland itself.

As the referendum day neared, on the 15th September 2013, opinion polls were closer than expected, but appeared to be leaning towards continued membership of the Nordic Confederation - and that was the result. 58% voted to remain in the Nordic group, with 42% voting to leave - but with only a 65% turnout (meaning that the "independence" voters were likely mostly "True Finn" voters and a few others). The result, whilst closer then expected (largely due to the low turnout), was a boost for the Social Democrats and other pro-Nordic groups as it largely eliminated the question over Finland relations with the Nordics from the domestic debates where it had often lingered in the background. It also largely silenced the True Finns, who had largely campaigned on their referendum policy (which had been granted) and lost the question, with the party entering an identity crisis. Post-referendum opinion polling reflected many nuances, but predominately painted Finnish attitudes to the Nordic Confederation of one of head-over-heart, recognising that the Finnish economy was largely unified with the wider Nordic economy, and the dependence on Nordic energy in particular, but most worrying for many in the Nordic Confederation was the perceived ambivalence towards the Confederation by many Finns, as proved by the low turnout.

It was clear to the Nordic Confederation that it would have to operate differently, and better represent the interests of the wider regions of the Nordics if the entity was to continue to thrive in future, and move away from a perception of "Scandinavianism". The first sight of this was the election in late 2014 of the first Estonian Secretary-General, in the shape of Andrus Ansip, a nod to the "new Nordic" members, and it was clear that the Nordics would have to make more efforts over just being a "systems unifier".

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Notes: This was a chapter that kind of sprang from the array of posts by our Finnish posters! 🙂
 

Devvy

Donor
For the sake of clarity, this is basically finished. I had pondered one more chapter covering a few things such as:
- Creation of a single "Nordic Pension" - defined benefit pension plan, funded by the national governments depending on which country you're living in, as well as employer and employee contributions, as a response to demographic shifts.
- Single Nordic airspace - transborder air traffic control, free and open market in aviation (bit behind Europe due to the public service obligations with rural communities), and tri-lateral (US-EU-Nordics) open skies agreement to let any member airline service any international route between their home market and a foreign airport. Maybe becomes quad-lateral with the inclusion of Canada?
 
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