I recently had the opportunity to hear an analysis of the current situation in the European Union from an expert who had worked in the EU for a long period of time. In brief, this was his message. The long, two-decade period of thriving integration has come to the end of the road and the once-united EU is becoming fragmented. The split first began with the financial and economic crisis, but then evolved into a political crisis with Brexit. A voice in defence of light regulation, free trade and markets in general will leave the EU, which will have a large impact on future development.
The split could lead to very different power dynamics in the EU. In the future, the founding states will form a core surrounded by states which either will or will not participate in development. Germany, France and Italy will lead while others follow, if they wish to do so. The expert’s analysis made me think.
In such a situation, Finland should have something to offer in order for it to be heard and not be left behind in orbit. Finland must ally with the other Nordic countries and similar countries such as Estonia, Latvia and the Netherlands. With regard to safeguarding our interests, we are much stronger if we come together – whether the matter concerns security or socio-political issues. Working together and making a difference is a much more effective form of safeguarding interests than resisting proposals from others.
The importance of cooperation has also been observed in the energy industry. In autumn, energy industry organisations established a joint Nordic Energy Office in Brussels. The shared facilities are the start of increased dialogue, but we need shared target-setting in particular. Ensuring the market orientation of the Nordic electricity markets is an important and topical example of a target which requires us in both the Nordic countries and the Baltic countries to work towards a common goal.
The transmission system operators in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark have again decided to increase cooperation and establish an office for around 10 workers in Copenhagen. Fingrid is contributing two employees. The cooperation is not driven by the safeguarding of interests, per se, but instead by the practical aspect of power system management becoming increasingly difficult due to renewable energy.
Regional cooperation concerning power system operation will be intensified to maintain the system security of the Nordic power system. The shared office will also provide a significant regional benefit to electricity market functionality. At the shared office, the correct transmission capacities for each hour can be calculated and cross-border transmission outages can be scheduled to cause minimum disruption on the markets. The office can also check the short-term adequacy of supply.
It is great that the significance of cooperation between nearby countries has once again been highlighted not only when it comes to safeguarding interests, but also in operations between companies. Finns have traditionally been weaker than others when it comes to making use of cooperation. We have plenty to offer, but our weakness is a lack of cooperation. Let’s change this through active interaction with nearby countries, since a common voice is a louder and more influential voice – and this also applies in the EU.