From the CIAO Atlas Map of Europe 

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Norden, Europe and Post-Security  *

Pertti Joenniemi

Copenhagen Peace Research Institute


New Options

Different Time-Zones

Norden in Plural

The Union's Appendix

A Renewed Struggle

Security: A Core Argument

A Non-Securitized Europe


Norden has usually been depicted as a particularly modern configuration, one that is exemplary in regard to the rest of Europe. However, a closer look reveals that there is much in nordicity that is better categorized as postmodern in essence. Therewith Norden appears to be less at odds with the Europe of today and the neo-regional formations that also label the politico-cultural-economic landscape in the northern parts of the continent, although the Nordic configuration remains ontologically detained by its image as the ultimate in modernity. This essey then sets the task of taking issue with the standard accounts of Norden and explores the prospects opening up once Norden is viewed as basically postmodern and perceived as being in most regards similar to the EU, although displaced in time.

New Options Traditionally regarded as a fairly stable configuration, Norden has in recent years become one of the more uncertain cases on the European agenda. The configuration, consisting of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and visible in one form by their membership of the Nordic Council, has been profoundly affected by the new logic sweeping Europe, a logic which seems set to drastically reshape the political landscape of the northern part of Europe, too.

Norden is, more precisely, challenged by new forms of statehood. There are quite different from the way states used to behave in the past. There is much more interference in each others domestic affairs and the acceptance, for example, of the juridistiction of international courts mean that states are less absolute in their sovereignty and independence than before. A post-balance system, one that is in essence postmodern, has developed and influences profoundly issues of security.

These changes appear to have produced, in terms of analysis, rather healthy consequences. Old verities about Norden as a "system of low tension" or, for that matter, a "security community" along Deutschian lines, have lost in standing. There is less objectification and naturalization present in the debate. The expertise that was long able to control interpretations of Norden's basic character has become less influential, and the door has been opened for alternative views and interpretations that are not only important for the debate on Norden, but also for Europe more generally.

My aim here is to take stock of the opportunity. It is done, in the first place, by deviating from the usual contrasting of Europe and Norden - the standard method employed in the efforts to grasp the essence of the 'Nordic'. Instead of regarding Norden and Europe as profoundly different or playing them off against each other as distinct opposites, the two cases are purported as being basically similar, although displaced in time. Norden's encounter with Europe is viewed in terms of the former being challenged by something that in many ways resembles itself as both differ radically from standard accounts of international relations. It is claimed that both Norden and Europe have circumvented the sovereignty-governed principles that have been crucial in the formation of political space during the modern era, and are thereby post-sovereign in essence.

Different Time-Zones

There are also, no doubt, considerable differences between the two cases. Norden is obviously older in origin and had already taken a path of its own, as a parallel endeavour, during the formative years of the Scandinavian nation-states. The Nordic case might, against this background, be seen as containing both pre-sovereign and post-sovereign aspects. It also seems that the interpretations of the Nordic case are more strongly governed by modern accounts that render such forms of political community unthinkable or at least very marginal. It has been rather difficult to comprehend and conceptualize a system that has been based on dropping the idea of war - or the potential threat of war - as war has in general been seen as an inherent condition and a core organizing principle of the Westphalian system that has reigned Europe in general. This has been a difficult issue to tackle in the context of the ordinary accounts on the essence of IR and this is also why there has been even more confusion about the basic nature of the Nordic configuration than the EU, although both tend to be difficult to place in any of the standard categories of political space.

In particular the Scandinavian - and later Nordic - configuration has operated on a wave length of its own so remote from anything else that it has remained, for most analysts, a case by itself. The incorporation of Norden into standard IR theory would have undermined key aspects of the theory. Norden's unusual features are clearly apparent, yet they are so far beyond the ordinary that explanation in general terms has been difficult. As a joint identity, Nordicness has reached across national borders and taken the form of an around-the-state arrangement without causing a contest between the various foundational categories of political space. Norden has existed as a non-sovereignty geared system within a broader European system premised on sovereignty. The formation of a joint transnational identity has implied that the distinction between the foreign and the domestic has to a large degree broken down. The ordering principle of the Nordic system has not been might and raison d'etat  but notions on togetherness and this has taken place without the system taking some distinct federalist form or collapsing and breaking into disorder.

The harmonious co-existence between the Nordic nation-states as well as the development of strong transnational bonds has been exceptional compared to the situation elsewhere in Europe where, as a rule, only two autonomous forms of political community have been allowed - those of state and nation. This restricted choice, one that limits identity to the nation-state only, has created an unambiguous political scenery. Modern politics, with the great engine of the Nation State in the middle, have been characterised by aspirations for order as well as clarity and there has been a decided lack of tolerance for deviant cases. Norden exemplifies, if seen against this background, a rather special case in the unfolding of political space in remaining aloof from both the categories of state and nation.

The European Union has similar features, although it has, in being of much later origin, a much more explicit project-nature in being based on an explicit treaty and a recognized autonomy of its own as a form of political community outside the modern state. Also the historical record is more easy to grasp as the European configuration grew out of the failures of the modern system: the balance-of-power which ceased to work and the nation state which took nationalism to destructive extremes (Cooper, 1998:22).

The EU has successfully gone beyond the nation state and yet achieved a standing difficult to marginalize, not to speak of any denial of its subjectivity. It obviously constitutes a location of political life, but this unfolds outside the ordinary sphere of the nation-states. Moreover, the EU is less of a mystery and easier to pinpoint because of its post-modern features and the fact that it has unfolded in an era that is imbued with a variety of post-modern tendencies (cf. Ruggie, 1993).

The point here is that Norden and the EU deviate, each in a way of its own, from the ordinary modernist pattern of political space. Both are highly developed systems of interference in the internal affairs of those included. They are both beyond statehood, although the EU gets legitimated primarily through its economic output, while in the Nordic case the emphasis is on identity and participation. Both could well be viewed as neo-regional sites of political life, to employ a label that is relatively recent in origin. They are far more about co-operation, networking, joint identities and the transcending of the narrowly conceived borders of nation-states, than they are about sovereignty and security in a traditional statist and territorial sense. Citizenship has in both cases a certain standing as a legitimate founding principle. Both Norden and the EU have a certain autonomy of their own in not being (or, as one now has to state in the case of Norden: not having previously been) defined by some external centre. There is little submission present and they are not derived from, but are on par  with, sovereignty. They are part of a pattern where sovereignty becomes one reality among many (Wæver, 1997:301).

It may also be noted that both stand out as deviations from the dominant discourse on international relations as a site of danger, anarchy and war. Intra-Nordic and intra-EU relations are seen as having a different quality, although domestication has, particularly in the case of Norden, reached proportions that sets it radically apart from the discursive field of international relations in its ordinary form. Both have turned out to be difficult to explain, although in the case of the EU some progress has been made while Norden still remains much of a mystery.

Norden in Plural

So what does this assertion of similarity amount to? Does the adoption of such an unconventional view provide departures that are better equipped to illuminate the encounter between Norden and Europe and help to grasp the dynamics and recent developments of the Nordic configuration?

An immediate answer consists of pointing out that such a stance makes it abundantly clear that there exists, in the debate, more than just one understanding of Norden. The conclusions arrived at and the answers provided largely depend on which 'Norden' is preferred and applied.

In one of its forms Norden is seen as already having lost the race for durability a long time ago, i.e. it is taken to constitute a remnant and a leftover compared to more durable configurations. It competed, the argument goes, during the early modern period with the ten Scandinavian nation-states as an alternative trajectory. If it had been successful, it would have led to more federal structures. In having failed to achieve this and a state of its own based on a joint identity and a kind of nationness (while Italy and Germany succeeded during the same period in similar efforts), Norden also failed, being short of discursive capital, to gain a firm and uncontested standing. Having once lost out to more dominant forms of modernity, the argument goes, it has continued a mysterious and shadowy existence as a configuration without any real foundation (cf. Østergård, 1994 and 1997).

It is then thought that with the increased pressure caused by the EU, time has finally caught up with the Nordic configuration. It appears just logical, against this background, that Norden loses in standing and becomes standardized, to the extent it is allowed to continue, within a regular framework of inter-governmental co-operation. It is not the transformation as such or Norden's sliding towards slow obliviation that is found hard to explain. That is the easy part, more difficult is to come up with answers as to why Norden has been able to go on despite already having failed - as it is argued - its test of viability in the process of modernisation a long time ago?

A very different way of conceptualizing Norden is to view it as being avant garde , i.e. a particularly modern configuration and a kind of progress-machine with a considerable model-value. It is then purported as a third way, a super-Sweden and a very developed configuration that is outstanding due to its level of welfare and qualities such as the transparency of the societies in question. Moreover, Norden is depicted as exemplary in peacefulness, having achieved such a standing through trade, openness, democracy and enlightenment. This conceptualization also sets Norden and Europe apart from each other by stressing that Norden - as a non-war community - has delivered on the modern promise, while Europe has not (cf. Ruth, 1984; Wæver, 1997:319).

The argument, then, is that the Nordic Mecca of Modernity is no longer intact in the post-Cold War period. It is running short of discursive capital. With Europe catching up and the occurrence of the European shift in Nordic co-operation, the previous contrast is fading away. As the EU expands into the North, there is too much overlap between the two cases. Europe and Norden no longer constitute separate spheres and remain detached from each other. While they used to have an autonomy of their own, they now tie into each other. In this process, it is argued, Norden's appeal and capacity to inspire has turned pale; it no longer possesses the energy nor commands the attractiveness it once did. Norden is losing out in relative terms. It has, in being less unique, been destabilised and becomes increasingly difficult to sustain, in its previous form, as a spatialisation.

This is to say that the relationship between Norden and the EU is conflictual rather than complementary. Nordicness needs firm boundaries in order to remain exemplary. It constitutes a way of staying aloof rather than a vehicle for participating in broader integration. As the two entities do not match, Norden is bound to adapt and shrink to something rather insignificant. There is broad agreement that the entity has, in its traditional form grown weaker and perhaps even anachronistic. A number of voices - including key decision-makers in the Nordic countries themselves - have testified that Norden has become redundant, and that the Nordic configuration ought to be relegated to the category of past history. Norden is viewed, along with a number of other configurations that went down with the demise of the Cold War, as an anomaly and a burden. It has turned, the argument goes, too much into a "bastion" with modest prospects for revival (Mouritzen, 1995:9).

The message then seems to be that Norden has to learn to stay modern in a broader context and without the previous borderlines, otherwise it is bound to perish. Thus, the only logical alternative and option available for Norden, within such an either-or constellation, is to cave in and provide space for the EU as a new (modern) hegemon.

The Union's Appendix

It appears, against this background, that the introduction of a post-modern perspective seems to offer several advantages. For one, it does not legitimate a dismissal of Norden to the same extent as the two other accounts. A defeat is not inbuilt in the approach itself. For the second, it introduces a different perspective on the changes underway and, thirdly, provides more sophisticated departures to be utilized in the search for alternative routes that might be available for the Nordic configuration to take, including the adoption of a rather offensive posture, once Norden is confronted with the EU.

The perspective offered is thus not one of Norden having already failed during its early years or having recently been outcompeted in its modernity. The changes underway may actually be conceptualized in terms of Norden turning, in some of its aspects, increasingly modern. Many of its post-modern features are still there but they are being complemented by some modern ones. This change, with legitimacy increasingly aspired for through concrete politics and not just identity and participation, has turned Norden into an arena for concrete political co-operation. The option of parallel co-existence between Norden and the EU shrinks, due to their similarity, which makes them competitive in essence. Norden appears to be the one giving way to the EU since it is unable to offer - among other reasons because of its rather weak ontological status - any serious resistance, and it is also slow - it seems - in turning into a neo-region (as Norden is generally not comprehended in regionalist terms) along the lines of the Barents or Baltic Sea co-operation (cf. Joenniemi, 1997; Wæver, 1997:319). How could Norden compete with formations that have to be recent in origin in order to be viewed as constituting parts of the emerging postmodern political landscape?

The main route available, then, is for Norden to turn into a vehicle for inter-governmental co-operation. Instead of becoming outdated, Norden could adapt to the new circumstances. The pressures for adaption emanate as a result, firstly of the increased presence of the EU and, secondly of the unfolding of the neo-regional projects that have taken root in northern Europe over recent years. The latter ones are problematic as well as they challenge Norden's reputation as a front-runner. The new neo-regional projects have so far developed a scant backing in terms of structures or co-operative networks, but they are more fresh in appearance and reflect a mentality, in the form of ideas, that is well in tune with the recent falling of walls also in northern Europe. In the case of the neo-region unfolding around the Barents and the Baltic Sea there is much adventure in the air, as the task is one of creating something that is not yet there. By contrast, in the case of Norden one is compelled to drag on with a case already well established, although an ontological reversal and the conceptualization of Norden as a regionalist entity would solev much of the dilemma.

Quite clearly, it is above all the expansion of the EU that is decisive for Norden's future and, paradoxically enough, it is precisely this encounter that has finally rendered the Nordic case open - after a long and successful resistance - for 'normalization' within a modern context. The Nordic state actors have been quick in taking stock of the opportunity by imposing a stricter adherence to sovereignty-governed principles. They have done so in order to gain increased influence at least on one front, i.e. the Nordic one, by moulding it more to their liking, while they seem to be losing out on most of the others due to changing internal and external circumstances. The effort is one of settling the incompatibility between Norden's postmodern features and the modernist images attached mainly to the Nordic states, and to do that by favouring the latter departure.

The statist reactions have been quite persistent, although there is an important variation in time. The first instinct of the Nordic governments was to stress that the EU is enough as such. It was thought that there is neither a need nor any space, within an unambiguous political landscape, for any competitive regional projects. These were also seen as unwarranted if one is to avoid sending signals of dissidence to Brussels. Denmark, Finland and Sweden have also avoided, for the same reason, coming together as a grouping, in the context of the EU. They do not like to be seen as aspiring for a bloc of their own. However, towards the end of nineties a new understanding seems to have emerged. Vicinity has been increasingly recognized as a valuable resource to be utilized also in EU-affairs. It has been understood that the prospects for success, in the competition for centrality tend to grow, if there are arrangements in place such as Nordic co-operation that allow for the leaning of the strength of neighbours (and vice versa: the weaknesses of neighbours are also weaknesses of one's own and have therefore to be remedied by joint endeavours).

The emergence of such a setting implies that Norden has become part of a broader framework and a larger discursive field. It is no longer viewed as sui generis -  a unique form of political space in a category of its own. With an increased need for differentiation within an overall pattern of European integration, Norden survives by adapting to the hegemony of the EU and by assuming a more state-oriented course. It has, in essence, been linked with the contemporary European constellations that together make up a three-level game between regions, national governments and the European institutions (Stenbäck, 1997:7).

The competitive situation between Norden and the EU, originating with their basic similarity, would have become even more explicit if the Nordic configuration would have also assumed a clearcut project-nature premised on economic output with the success, at the beginning of the seventies, of the Nordec-plan. This trajectory was, however, blocked by broader European integration. As the plan failed, the Nordic system lost the option of challenging the EU in any explicit and institutional fashion. With the EU occupying the position of a centre regulating the formation of political space, the Nordic system has taken on features of a far more state-governed formation. It is no longer "bottom-up" to the extent it used to be but rather "top-down". In assuming an external anchorage, Norden has lost much of its previous autonomy and therewith changed in character.

It hence appears that the EU, as a post-modern challenge, has empowered the Nordic nation-states with the argument that Nordicity has to turn modern if it is to be useful. It is claimed that Norden has finally to become, in abiding with the EU-logic, a vehicle for statist co-operation and co-ordination of high politics vis-à-vis  the external environment. The hardship experienced seems to have led to a certain re-discovery of Norden and Nordicness, although the reaction has primarily been one of tightening the straitjacket of modernity.

Thus, with the radical transformation that has taken place over recent years, the Nordic Council of Ministers has grown in importance at the expense of the more non-governmental Nordic Council, and both have been restructured and reshaped in order to assure that "Nordic co-operation and European integration are complementary in character" (Stenbäck, 1997:7). The inter-governmental part of Nordic co-operation has been strengthened and has consumed some previously non-statist parts of Nordic co-operation while the previous emphasis on parliamentarism has taken a downturn. On the flip side both the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers have been prevented by the respective Nordic governments from establishing any direct contacts with the EU.

In general, Norden has become a vehicle for co-operation vis-à-vis the external world - having previously been almost exclusively about internal questions. A lot of previous core activities in the economic and social fields have been hollowed out as Nordic co-operation has been overtaken by that within the EU and even the European Economic Agreement (EEA). The remaining fields for Nordicness have been those of identity and culture (cf. Wæver, 1997:322). It is to be noted, however, that turning Norden into a vehicle for concrete political co-operation has been easier in principle that in practise. The Nordic countries have often found that their views differ and do so even on core questions such as joining the EU, partaking in the monetary union or pushing Baltic membership in the Union, this implying that in many cases Nordic co-operation boils down to an exchange of views and keeping together despite the prevailing differences.

With the increased emphasis on governmental politics, the argument has been made that the 'hard' security-related issues should also have a prominent place on the Nordic agenda. This clearly indicates, although the idea has not been implemented to any greater extent, that Norden is increasingly thought of as a subset of statist co-operation, and one with a derived function.

A Renewed Struggle

This is, however, not the end of the story. The change is far from complete and Norden has not, by one stroke, been transformed into a centralized, political and state-governed entity. Many of its autonomous and network-oriented aspects remain, and some have even grown in strength. This is particularly the case with the various Nordic business-oriented actors increasingly linking themselves with each other, discernible in the fields of banking, insurance, energy production as well as shipbuilding. Privite initiatives, informal contacts and the symbolic construction of political space is still what Norden is primarily about. Some shifts have also been taking place on at the grassroot level. The growing links across the Baltic Sea have resulted in the establishment of Nordic associations in the Baltic countries as well as in Petersburg and Kaliningrad, and these newcomers to the Nordic 'family' now aspire for equal standing vis-á-vis  the associations in the Nordic countries themselves.

This is to say that Norden is not, under the new conditions, confined to its previous borderlines. Nor does it seem to be a construction able to survive only under the circumstances of the Cold War. It has, among other things, taken on features of a transregion with some of the networking reaching across previous borderlines. Applying Nordicness in responding to new challenges changes the model and provides Norden with dimensions that extend beyond the previously rather strict borderlines.

Moreover, the alterations underway seem to signal that the struggle over Norden's nature, i.e. whether it should be allowed to grow more explicitly along post-modern lines as a neo-region and to turn increasingly into a myriad of activities and connections without much central control, or be transformed to a rather orderly regional entity under strict statist supervision and one that is in line with a classical pattern, has intensified. The question is whether the challenge posed by the EU and the changing circumstances calls for a strengthening of Norden's post-modern features or if Norden should instead be brought in line with sovereignty-based politics.

The answer is not, at a closer look, self-evident and it is not one of either-or. Some of Norden's features as a modern project seem to be growing with the increased emphasis on interstate cooperation and the new outward orientation consisting, for a part, of co-ordinating governmental politics. However, there is also networking, flows and de-regulation in the picture. The overall result is thus one of increased complexity with the project taking on, it seems, both modern and post-modern elements.

This is also to say that Norden is not on its way towards obliviation. Some discursive capital is still there. Norden has not experienced 'a moment of truth' as could have been expected on the bases of the conceptualizations that take Norden for an oddity that, in fact, lost out long ago but has refused to abide to the dictates of time and modern progress in a nation-state format. In a similar vein, there is little support for the assumption that the only option available for Norden consists of assuming a shadowy existence somewhere at the fringes of current international life. In a way Norden seems to have increased in strength by leaning explicitly on two legs: It has been standardized along modernist lines but has also added to its post-modernist dimensions.

In other words, the encounter with the EU seems to have brought about an increasingly multiperspectival Norden but one that uses the EU as an anchorage in staying on as a political community.

Security: A Core Argument

In order to tackle the question of whether the post-modern perspective could even provide ground for turning Nordicness into an offensive posture, the issue of security warrants particular attention. It does so in constituting a sphere where Norden stands rather firm, and should not merely abide to the tune given by the EU.

The puzzling aspect about Norden has been, if seen with modernist eyes, that notions of war - or even the probability of major tensions - are void of meaning among the Nordic countries. Such options habe been successfully erased from historical memory. This has then enabled Norden to turn into a region of stability and peace, and to do this without no hegemonic or centralized power to carter for it, any balance-of-power system, a system of arbitration or a Nordic "Treaty of Rome" for that matter. This is certainly no small feat. One has to recall that less than two hundred years ago, Norden was best described as a permanent war system with primarily Denmark and Sweden - supported by their respective allies and dependencies - fighting it out in a series of bloody conflicts (cf. Wiberg, 1993).

The changes since then are beyond doubt; Norden is "a peace zone" (cf. Archer, 1996), although it is not easy to explain - in the context of the ordinary account of IR - how and why this transformation from a war-system to a non-securitised form of political space evolved and established itself.

There are, of course, historical accounts and numerous efforts of explanation, but even the best ones tend to consist of listing and combining a variety of factors, and leave much to be desired in terms of an underlying theory. The explanatory package usually offered contains geopolitical conditions and some social factors as well as a listing of ideological reasons. Geopolitically, it is argued that in power-political terms, the region has low strategic value; the social factors pertain to a considerable degree of interaction and joint institutions; and the ideological reasons are mainly grounded in a Lutheran culture shared by all the actors of the region. It may be observed that the explanations offered have, to a large extent, been governed by modern accounts. Norden is then viewed as a previous war system (i.e. a "security complex") that has gradually been turned into a "security community", one that assumed the nature of a rather conscious peace project.

However, other avenues and efforts of explanation might also be available. Instead of being the ultimate in modernity - and a peace project along Deutschian lines - struggling successfully and being gradually able to tune down the security dilemma inherent in interstate relations, Scandinavia - and later Norden - seems to have resulted from a breach in the discourse on international relations. It became possible to articulate Scandinavia as a non-war community, and thereby to steer free (in the case of intra-Nordic relations) from securitization. Another way of putting it would be to say that the spheres of culture and identity achieved, in the Scandinavian/Nordic case, such an autonomous standing that it turned possible to resist subjugation to the political in a modern sense (with security included as a prime argument in the construction of political space). It turned out, once Scandinavianism became a core referent, impossible to place other Scandinavians in the category of adversaries. Important test cases consisted of Sweden asquiescing in Norwegian independence in 1905 and Finland as well as Sweden accepting the ruling of the League of Nation concerning the issue of the Åland Islands in 1921.

Scandinavia/Norden hence seems to have been enabled by a discursive shift, and one containing a disappearance of the security argument. The system became postmodern in being void of internal security threats. The participating states could not be viewed as as aiming at invading each other. With enmity short of credibility, securitizing failed in the sphere of inter-Nordic relations, with rather porous and cooperation-oriented intra-Scandinavian/Nordic borderlines as a consequence.

This is to say that the idea of Scandinavianism was not built around overcoming war and bringing about security; it was about other things. As a form of political community that brought about domestication of a previously international sphere, Scandinavianism has been about togetherness. The relations inside the Scandinavian/Nordic 'family' became so close and amiable that there was no ground for securitization. The joint identity has been strong enough to allow for internal interference and a blurring of state borders. The project has not been one of aspiring for increased security through trade, interaction, democracy and enlightment as the modern accounts usually lead one to believe. Instead the security argument was left outside the way of defining who "we" are as Scandinavians from the very beginning, and thereby core arguments for drawing very strict and divisive intra-Scandinavian borderlines were also undermined.

War as a collective activity directed against members of the "family" was not conceivable among the Nordics, and hence the system has not been about elevating security but pushing it into obliviation. If securitization would have prevailed, then the political community would in all probability have taken the form of a Scandinavian defence alliance, i.e. turned into a statist arrangement with security as a central concern.

It hence appears that Norden, as a form of political community, deviates crucially from the European Union. Both are post-modern, but Norden has been more immune to securitization. The Union has features of a security community while Norden could be characterized as a community of a-security. Security is a core issue in the case of the EU, although it works in the form of downplaying the importance of the intra-Union borders instead of contributing - as is usually the case - to the preservation of strict and divisive borders. Security is there, but it seems to work in the context of knowledge structures that deviate from the ordinary rules of modernity in being an argument for inclusion instead of exclusion. In any case, security-related arguments are central in the constitution of the EU, in contrast to Norden, which stands for a kind of de-securitised political space.

The differences could be elaborated further by stating that in the production of knowledge underlying the EU, otherness is potentially present, although enmity is not linked with any particular state actor (cf. Wæver, 1996). The EU is about remembering and not forgetting Europe's power political past. Instead of joining forces against a potential Other, the aim is one of overcoming the legacy of the common past, i.e. to prevent intra-EU relations from sliding back into relations of enmity and to keep the classical European power political rivalry at bay.

The rhetorical structures underlying such a stance frequently come out in the open. The EU is, in general, looked upon as a 'peace project' and when, for example, Chancellor Kohl explains why he thinks that the European Monetary Union is necessary, his bottom line is that EMU - as a way of deepening integration - is needed in order to avert war. The EU is there to erase borders and to produce security by further integration. For Europe to be able to refrain from power politics and to keep major wars at a safe distance, some further measures of integration are needed. The EU is, in other words, not seen as being merely focused on economic performance but is above all about avoiding war and bringing about security. There are reasons to think that if the security argument was to be lifted out of the debate, the very foundation of the EU would tremble. The EU hence seems, in discursive terms, to be in line with the dominant understanding on international relations in the sense that security has the position of a key concept. However, the discourse works in ways which are unifying rather than dividing. Security invites, in the case of the EU, de-bordering, and in this sense the end construct is similar, in its postmodernity, to that of Norden, although in the Nordic case it has been achieved by leaving security aside, while the EU is about de-bordering because of security.

Moreover, Norden and the EU are different as time constructs. In the Nordic case the past has been left behind and a new agenda has been adopted, while in the case of the EU the struggle with the past continues by advancing integration (this is also why integration has occupied a far less central place in the case of Norden and why Norden has been far weaker as an output-oriented project). Integration is, in the case of Norden, just an argument among many, whereas it constitutes the gist of the EU. The absence of war is so obvious in the Nordic case that it is pointless bringing up the issue in the first place.

In other words, Norden is a post-security construction that has been enabled by leaving the power political past behind. The endeavour to achieve a break is no longer the unifying factor as it would be pointless to aspire for something that is already there. The other Scandinavians/Nordics do not enter the political community, in the production of knowledge, as potential Others. It would almost sound like a joke if a major politician were to argue that further Nordic integration is required to avert the danger of an intra-Nordic war. The problem of security in the ordinary statist and military sense has simply evaporated, and what is left in terms of extra-Nordic relations has been handed over to the Nordic nation-states to cope with.

Hence the argument can be made that Norden holds something that the EU is still aspiring for. In terms of time, Norden is ahead in being far less governed by modern, security-centred accounts and in having turned postmodern not by refrasing security but by leaving the whole concern aside. Security has, in the case of the EU, been an inroad to postmodernity while the Nordic case indicates that the departure can also be one of dropping the theme of security. Nordic communality is based on joint identity and the symbolics of far-reraching togetherness while the aim in the case of the EU is to overcome previous divisions and prevent a relapse to otherness by various structural arrangements and functional cooperation without aiming at any homogeneous identity.

A Non-Securitized Europe

Having refrained from securitization, Norden could also constitute an interesting case on the broader European scene. One may argue, contrary to prevailing understandings, that Norden still holds discursive strength and the view could be advanced that Norden retains a considerable capacity, perhaps larger than often expected, to influence the way political space is unfolding in present-day Europe. This is so as Norden's model-value does not only pertain to some specific aspects or issues; it is also relevant in view of some of the core constitutive features of the new Europe, and if inserted into the discourse on Europe, Nordicness would offer a way of reducing some of the rigidity in the current debate.

Against the background of two world wars and an almost constant animosity between France and Germany, or France and Britain for that matter, it is certainly understandable that security has been a central concern in the construction of the EU. Security is also deeply inscribed into the identities of central EU-actors, Britain, France and Germany.

But the question can be posed whether this is also going to be the case in the future? Is it really credible to argue that the danger of Germany attacking France, or vice versa, would increase if there is no introduction of a monetary union? This is hardly the case. Further integration may be needed, but its legitimacy, in the sphere of intra-Union affairs, has turned out to be less dependent on statist security or the necessity of averting wars between the major EU-powers. One day the EU might also be able to recognize that the project has born fruit with the term "zone of peace" extended to cover the EU as well. The Union might change, as a time-construct, by no longer being haunted by Europe's power political past.

This perspective of the EU evolving into a non-war community increases the relevance and applicability of the Nordic traditions. The constant securitizing might be dropped once the understanding sinks in that peace has come to stay in intra-EU relations and should, therefore, no longer be given undisputed priority to the extent that further measures of integration, largely along federalist lines, may be explained as being necessitated by a concern for peace.

Such a shift in the discourse on Europe would imply a profound change; it would introduce different criteria for the unfolding of post-Cold War Europe and open up a variety of options that have been previously out of reach. Norden would still be challenged by the EU, but the process would not be exclusively one-way as Norden retains qualities that are quite capable of challenging some of the core discourses on the Union. This is especially so as the tide seems to be on the side of non-statist and de-securitized entities when it comes to the formation of Europe's political space. Norden points to the future in that it not only proves the case that de-securitization is thinkable but that it is also applicable in concrete terms.


Note *: This is an extended version of an article to be published in Tuomas Forsberg (ed.), The Northern Dimension 1998.  The Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Helsinki 1998. I would like to thank Barry Buzan, Thomas Dietz, Lene Hansen, Grazina Miniotaite, Jaap de Wilde, Michael Williams and Ole Wæver for many useful comments. Back.