Pooling and Sharing – another lesson from Europe’s North
Recently I came across an interesting piece of information: eight countries from Europe’s north are pooling resources… diplomatic resources. As the political integration in other fields is staggering, notably in economic governance, foreign, security and defence policy, small countries without ambitions to rule over the continent may have found the right formula. It is not the first time Nordic and Baltic EU member states pool resources. Over the last few years they have been joining forces to form early warning systems and joint air patrols, just to mention a few.
The five Nordic and three Baltic states have signed an agreement that enables them to pool their diplomatic resources around the world.
The pioneer diplomatic initiative was formally sealed in Helsinki Tuesday by the foreign ministers of Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland and Estonia, and government representatives from Denmark and Norway.
“The agreement we signed today that we will send our diplomats to each other’s embassies, is very practical and it already functions,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said at the so-called NB8 summit – of the eight Nordic and Baltic nations – hosted by Finland, as cited by the Swedish Wire.
Nordic states already share diplomatic missions and responsibilities in some countries and the memorandum of understanding signed in Helsinki formally expands the arrangement to include Baltic nations. “There are many agreements where one country represents another country in visa issues for example,” said Paet, noting that Estonian diplomats have worked out of Finnish embassies in India and Zambia, for instance.
According to Paet, the agreement is a good example of close cooperation under the NB8 framework, and Estonia welcomes this expansion of opportunities for diplomatic communications in countries where it has previously had no representation. The deal “will make it easier for the Nordic and Baltic countries to maintain a diplomatic presence around the world by enabling flexible and cost-effective solutions,” a joint statement said.
The agreement, signed during the annual Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8) meeting in Helsinki, covers the practical aspects of stationing foreign service personnel in other Nordic or Baltic embassies abroad, in territories where a respective country has no representation, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reported.
I wish bigger member states like Germany and France who give the tone for the most important decision on European integration overcame selfishness and, like their northern neighbours share more resources in the field of high politics. After all, when you realise that you are small it is may be too late. And while trying to show how big you are you could have missed the moment for the right step.