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Nordic alliance

January 20, 2011

Prime ministers from nine northern European states met on Thursday to discuss ways of cooperating on growth, trade and jobs. British Prime Minister David Cameron believes the UK can learn from their Nordic neighbors.

Prime Ministers outside 10 Downing Street
Prime ministers from the Nordic regions meet in LondonImage: AP

Countries across the north of Europe could form an "avantgarde for jobs and growth," British Prime Minister David Cameron said at a summit of Nordic countries on Thursday.

Cameron spoke at the opening of the summit, which was initiated by Britain and attended by the leaders of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

The summit sought ways of boosting trade, growth and jobs for countries badly hit by the financial crisis.

"Right across the north of Europe there stretches an alliance of common interests," said Cameron.

The region already has strong economic links with two-way trade between Britain and the eight other countries worth around 54 billion GBP (64 billion euros, $86.3 billion) - a level similar to trade volumes with China or France.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, right, greets the Prime Minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt
The leaders of Sweden and Britain have lots in common ideologicallyImage: AP

Scandinavian inspiration

The British prime minister believes his country can learn from Nordic high-tech innovation and environmentally-friendly policies.

Unlike a traditional diplomatic summit, the gathering brought together entrepreneurs, social activists as well as politicians to exchange ideas. To add to the change from the norm, the summit was held at a London art gallery.

The one-day summit was billed as an informal brainstorming decision, expected to stimulate a "flow of ideas" rather than concrete decisions, according to British government officials.

Cameron has previously been heavily influenced by Scandinavian ideas, and his center-right Conservative party has borrowed ideas such as allowing parents, teachers or charities to run Swedish-style "free schools."

Officials were keen to stress the summit was in no way directed against the European Union.

"This is not Northern Europe canvassing against Southern Europe or the Brussels institutions," one official told German news agency dpa.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner