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Norden this week 2004-12-20 - Nordic Council / Nordic Council of Ministers

Norden this week - Monday 01.17.2005


Nordic co-operation must be revamped!
“Our greatest challenge is to change the content and direction of Nordic co-operation. The way we have worked in the past does not attract new people to Nordic work,” Per Unckel, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers told the heads of Nordic institutions gathered in Copenhagen last Wednesday.

Unckel would like Nordic co-operation to be an integral part of European and international work and serve as a resource for the whole world as well as the Nordic Region.

He would also like co-operation to be more obvious, more relevant and simpler in order to justify its existence. Part of the new Nordic role also consists of finding new and better forms of co-operation with Eastern Europe and a working party will present proposals for future contact with the East, first and foremost with the Baltic States and North-West Russia.

The Secretary General of the Nordic the Council of Ministers, Per Unckel:

Young Danes poor at Nordic languages
Norwegians are the best in Scandinavia at understanding neighbouring languages because they are used to dialects. However, young Danes find it so difficult to understand Swedish and Norwegian that they achieve the poorest results in Scandinavia in tests of the ability to understand what is being said in neighbouring languages.

Those are the results of two major Scandinavian questionnaire surveys. In one of them approximately 2,000 senior secondary school students and some of their parents took part in the biggest survey to date of how well people in the Nordic Region understand the main Scandinavian languages. It shows that Danish youngsters lag behind when it comes to understanding the other Scandinavian languages.

The second study looks at the use of modern imported words and how they affect the Nordic languages. The main conclusion is that more and more of them are entering the languages. In 1975, there were approximately 0.5% loan words in the average newspaper article in Scandinavia. The corresponding figure today is 1.2%. The Danes tend to use English words most, Icelanders and Norwegians are less keen on them.

The project Inter-Nordic Language Understanding was commissioned and funded by the Nordic Cultural Fund. The project Modern Imported Loan Words in the Nordic Languages was commissioned and co-funded by the Nordic Language Council. Both projects were run by the Norwegian Language Council.

Inter-Nordic Language Understanding:
Imported Loan Words in the Nordic Languages:

Urban misunderstandings

The people of Stockholm and Copenhagen have the greatest difficulty in understanding other Nordic languages, according to a study funded by the Nordic Cultural Fund and presented in Copenhagen last Thursday.

Almost two thousand senior secondary school students and their parents took part and the results show that young people are not as good as their parents at understanding the neighbouring languages. The Norwegians and Faroese came out top, the Danes and Swedes bottom.

The Danish Minister of Culture, Brian Mikkelsen, underlined the importance of understanding each other’s languages, which is also listed as a priority in the programme for the Danish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2005.

“The best way of learning another language is to become good at your native tongue,” he said in his introduction.

Lars-Olof Delsing of Lund University, who conducted the study, would like to see more widespread teaching of Scandinavian languages in schools, changes to teacher training and more Scandinavian programmes on TV throughout the Nordic Region.

A survey of loan words in Nordic languages was also presented at the conference on Thursday. It shows that that Iceland has been best at keeping its language free from the impact of English despite the fact that it is the country that uses English most. As a whole, the Scandinavians have doubled the number of English words they use over the last three decades to 1.2% today.

The Nordic Cultural Fund:

Simpler to study in the Nordic Region
A year at senior secondary school in Norway, Finland or perhaps Iceland?

“There used to be an agreement between the Nordic countries about this type of exchange programme but uptake was very limited,” Swedish MP Lennart Gustavsson (Left) told the newspaper North Västerbotten. The matter was taken up by the Nordic Council and a new exchange programme devised.

Study abroad is a popular choice for young people in the Nordic Region but the Swedish school system used not to count the year abroad. This barrier to cross-border freedom of movement has now been removed and the Nordic ministers have revised the previous senior secondary agreement. Students are now allowed to spend a year – or take their whole senior secondary education – wherever the want in the Nordic Region.

Lennart Gustavsson is at pains to point out that Nordic co-operation is also important in other contexts.

“We have discussed the fact that Nordic co-operation should be more than beautiful speeches and meals. Tangible examples are needed, ones that touch on the everyday life of Nordic citizens,” he says.

Gustavsson left the Nordic Council at the turn of the year to concentrate on his new role as the Left Party’s spokesperson with responsibility for personnel issues.

Norra Västerbotten:

Nordic record for oil production
Nordic oil and gas production broke all records in 2004.

Record amounts of oil and gas were produced in the Nordic Region in 2004 – 1.66 billion barrels of oil equivalents. Equivalents measure the energy content of oil and gas, not the volume.

Norwegian gas production reached new heights in 2004 but a drop in oil production prompted the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate to look for new reserves.

Total Nordic production of oil and natural gas was 6.3 million barrels higher in 2004 than when the previous record was set – in 2003. Nordic oil production fell by 1.7% over the same period, according to Associated Press. Measured in terms of energy value, the drop was balanced out by the far greater increase in gas production. Nordic production is expected to peak in 2008.

The Danish newspaper Børsen reported today that the oil division of Mærsk is looking around for possible new exploration and production fields all over the world.

Mærsk Oil and Gas produced a total of 112 million barrels along with the Danish Underground Consortium in 2004, corresponding to sales of approximately DKK 26 billion.

The Norwegian Oil Fund passed NOK 1,000 billion before New Year.

Associated Press:

Iceland popular in Sweden
Swedish Aftonbladet asked its readers, where in the world they would most like to visit. More than 85,000 took part in the survey. In the ‘Nordic’ category, Iceland was by far the most popular destination with one-third of the votes.

Here are the results of the survey in the Nordic category:

1. Iceland 33.4 %
2. Gotland 15.2 %
3. Copenhagen 12.8 %
4. Stockholm 6.7%
5. Skagen 5.8 %
6. Svalbard 5 %
7. The Faroe Islands 4.9 %
8. Bornholm 4.3 %
9. The North Cape 4.1 %
10. Oslo 3.2 %
11. Helsinki 2.5 %
12. Åland 2 %


Environment action plan available
Co-operation between the Nordic Ministers of the Environment is based on four-year action plans. The Action Plan 2005-2008 is now available as a booklet thanks to the Icelandic Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2004.

The action plan focuses on four areas: the environment and health; the sea; nature, culture and outdoor life and, finally, sustainable consumption and production. The plan covers most of the aspects that affect everyday life, from the quality of the air to chemicals and other environmentally damaging substances.

The short brochure addresses the important question of how to disseminate information about the action plan as widely as possible It also looks at how best to generate tangible results. Initiatives mentioned include greater publicity for Nordic co-operation on all levels and new methods of communication.

Read the whole programme:

Focus on Nordic future
The Joint Committee of the Nordic Social-Democratic Labour Movement, SAMAK, will focus on the future of Nordic co-operation at its annual meeting in Norway, 18- 19 January. It will also discuss the potential of the Nordic Region in a globalised world.

The first day will consist of general political debate chaired by Marita Ulvskog (Secretary of the Swedish Social Democrats) and the debate about the potential of the Nordic Region in a globalised world chaired by Jens Stoltenberg, the leader of the Labour Party in Norway. Stoltenberg takes over the chair of SAMAK at the meeting.

The debate about the future of Nordic co-operation will take place on day two. The panel will consist of Gerd-Liv Valla (head of the TUC in Norway and chair of the Council of Nordic Trade Unions), Berit Andnor (Minister for Nordic Co-operation in Sweden), Jakob Bjerregaard (President of the Confederation of Nordic Social Democratic Youth) and Lars Wegendahl (member of the Nordic Council).

Icelanders spend most on medicine
Icelanders spend most in the Nordic Region on medicine, Greenlanders least and the Faroese second least, according to a study by the Nordic Medico-Statistical Committee, Nomesco.

The study also reveals that Iceland has the highest distribution costs for medicine and that Icelanders use more new medicines, which are also more expensive than others on the market, Faroese radio reports.

Greenlanders spend DKK 633 p.a. on medicine, the Faroese DKK 2,263, Swedes DKK 2,457, Danes DKK 2,605, Norwegians DKK 2,821, Finns DKK 3,000 and Icelanders DKK 4,377.



Norden This Week is published by the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers, Store Strandstræde 18, D-1255 Copenhagen. Editor: Magne Kveseth, Tel: +45 33 96 02 00, fax: +45 33 93 58 18. The contents can be freely quoted.

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