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Islands with their own point of view

| By Björn Lindahl, Editor-in-chief

The Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland see the Nordic cooperation as a stepping stone to the outside world. But they also bring plurality to the Nordic table by enhancing awareness of different governance arrangements, peoples and their rights.

One of the most exciting journeys I have ever done as a reporter was in 2011 when I travelled with the then Minister of Trade Ewa Björling to Greenland. She was particularly interested in the mining industry, so the Swedish delegation took a speedboat from Nuuk up the Godthaab Fjord and into a small branch full of small icebergs.

32 containers formed a rectangle on top of a hill, the base camp for the prospecting going on higher up. Some of us flew in a helicopter across the mighty inland ice cap to the top of the hill, which jutted out of the ice. As we landed, the London Mining project head exclaimed enthusiastically: 

“Look at the top of the hill! Can you see the magnetite running like rods down the side? That’s all iron, a billion tonnes of iron ore, perhaps more!" 

The British-Chinese mining project was supposed to remove 200 million tonnes of ice and build a road to an open mine with three production lines. 1,100 people were supposed to work during the construction phase, many of them Chinese. With production underway, 500 people were to be hired. 

Many have been blinded by Greenland’s natural resources. Former US President Donald Trump even wanted to buy the entire country.

But the British company that had secured the license, London Mining, went bust. It only operated one mine in Sierra Leone, which closed after an Ebola outbreak. Now I see the Chinese company General Nice, which took over the license, has returned it to the Greenlandic authorities. It was a small company that could never have provided the 20 billion kroner investment needed.

The price of ore and viruses are elements the Greenlandic government cannot control. But the new government that came to power in April this year has decided that any ore extracted in Greenland must not contain more than 0.01% uranium. Marie Preisler has investigated what consequences this will have, and what measures the government will introduce to improve the labour market.

There are also grand plans afoot in Åland. The autonomous archipelago plans to construct 500 offshore wind turbines which would produce 100 times more electricity than it consumes itself. We talk to Åland’s Minister for Industry and Trade Fredrik Karlström, who has become a veteran among the Nordic labour ministers. They gathered in Helsinki in late November to discuss issues like platform work and the need for joint Nordic legislation for this part of the labour market. 

Iceland’s minister Ásmundur Einar Daðason did not participate because he was busy with the formation of the new Icelandic government, which began governing on 29 November. We have a portrait of the new Minister for Labour Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, Magdalena Andersson finally became Prime Minister. And with that, the most important Nordic government minister post yet to be held by a woman was filled. Since Iceland has also got its first female Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture in Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the Nordic Council of Ministers has now had women in all 11 minister posts.

We also write about how Hungary has blocked the declaration from the yearly EEA Council meeting and the tax problems for Nordic border commuters, when hybrid work has become the norm.

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