Carmen Gebhard, Sweden and Finland as European Actors and Regional Stakeholders in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 127 - 134

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

Bibliographic information
127 substantial financial resources invested by the Nordic governments in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea area should be interpreted as the most evident sign of a rush to exploit the political and economic opportunities opened up by the [… ‘return’ of the Baltic states.448 The distribution of geostrategic and political roles in this intra-Nordic competition was very clear, since it could partly be told from the traditional self-perception and regional orientation of each of the five Nordics. This became evident with the focus each of them put in the field of bilateral aid transfer, where e.g. Finland showed a strong affiliation to Estonia as its main traditional partner in the region. The efforts and interests of Norway (and naturally, also of Iceland) had always been more devoted to the far up North and the Arctic sphere, while for Sweden, the newly emerging opportunities for cooperative interaction in the BSR had a very strong geostrategic significance.449 In other respects, the competitive game was influenced or determined by concurrent changes in the general political situation. This was particularly true for the Danish case since through the unexpected rejection of the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty in late 1992, the country turned from the best-positioned player in the regional ‘game’ into an unfortunate outsider. In fact, after this event, the Danish government started to withdraw its early regionalist activism and assumed a more passive role in the process.450 This dealt a decisive blow to Denmark’s ambitions to play a pivotal role in the Northern neighbourhood of the EU and led its political elite and foreign-policy makers to adopt a less assertive stance at both regional and EU level. There was a return in a sense to the pre- 1980s attitude, marked by a low profile and pragmatism.451 Hence, since Denmark was forced out of the game, and Norway and Iceland clearly orientated themselves towards other spheres of geostrategic interest, which is, the Arctic Circle, the scene was largely left to Sweden and Finland. IV. Sweden and Finland as European Actors and Regional Stakeholders The following comparative chapters seek to identify some of the major differences between the two ‘similar but unequal’ Nordics, in order to eventually position them in the context of the implementation of the EU Northern Dimension. Before the study returns to the issue of policy creation and diffusion and the discussion of the intra- Nordic standing and reception of the EU ND, Sweden and Finland are compared in respect to the following two aspects: – their conduct within the EU and in the broader context of European integration; – their profile as regional stakeholders in the BSR, with special focus on their behaviour towards the Baltic States and their performance and orientation in subregional cooperation. 448 CATELLANI Nicola: The EU’s Northern Dimension. Testing a New Approach to Neighbourhood Relations? Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Research Report 35, Stockholm 2003, p. 3. 449 See PETERSEN Leif: Splittrad familj drar åt olika hall. In: Svenska Dagbladet, 25 november 2006, p. 160. 450 See CATELLANI Nicola: The EU’s Northern Dimension. Testing a New Approach to Neighbourhood Relations? Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Research Report 35, Stockholm 2003, pp. 3-5. 451 Ibd., p. 5. 128 1. Sweden, Finland, European Integration and the EU Before entering the EU in 1995, both Sweden and Finland had historically resisted any sort of regional cooperation structure with supranational elements. Besides a general reluctance towards institutionalised commitments, it was mostly security political considerations that had kept Sweden and Finland from applying to join the EC. Only in the late 1990s, the two Nordics started to open themselves towards the broader process of European integration. The global political changes required a thorough reassessment of both their foreign political and their regional policy orientation. The opening provided by the disintegration of the Cold War system of East-West alliances made it possible for neutral states, Finland and Sweden, to conceive of joining the European Community. The traditional obstacle to joining the EC, “What will Moscow think?”, was no longer significant. 452 Despite their coincidental accession, once having become full members, Sweden and Finland developed very different member state profiles. Ingebritsen identified a scale of willingness for political integration among the Nordic five, where Finland ranged on first position as the most supportive candidate for further deepening in political fields of integration.453 The Swedish motivation for reassessing its relationship towards the EC in the early 1990s had a very strong economic background. Starting from 1991, the Swedish economy had suffered a dramatic breakdown, which in the years to come was expected to cause major infringements on the Swedish welfare system. For Finland, on the other hand, approaching the full membership option had a far ranging ideological, political and most importantly, also a security political significance. After Finland had liberated herself from the Soviet link, the first and foremost strategic aim became to gain distance from the past by distinctly turning to the West and seeking Western integration in the best visible way. What appeared essential on the Finnish side did in turn represent a major obstacle for Sweden. The idea of committing themselves to a supranational framework had been an unloved prospect for most Swedes at that time. The accession and full integration into the EC/EU was seen as a practical necessity that would help to tackle the domestic difficulties but ‘unfortunately’, would also entail major impacts on Swedish sovereignty. A strong marker for these specific circumstances in the Swedish case was the harsh lines that emerged between the proand anti-EC coalitions on the domestic level. In Sweden, it was the conservative party (moderata samlingspartiet/moderaterna), which set out to relativise the anti-EC atmosphere in the early 1990s. In November 1991, the then Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt promoted Sweden as being on the point of turning from “a reluctant into an enthusiastic European.” Speaking to a selected audience of European Commission officials, he renounced much of Sweden’s past scepticism towards European integration and claimed that Sweden was about to develop and pursue a clear European identity.454 452 INGEBRITSEN Christine: The Nordic States and European Unity. Cornell 1998, p. 10. 453 She positioned Denmark as second, followed by Sweden, Norway and Iceland as the most hostile towards political integration among the Nordic five. See INGEBRITSEN Christine: The Nordic States and European Unity. Cornell 1998, p. 14. 454 BILDT Carl, cited by AF MALMBORG Mikael: Sweden in the EU. In: HULDT Bo/TIILIKAINEN Teija/VAAHTORANTA Tapani/HELKAMA-R?G?RD Anna (eds): Finnish and Swedish Security. Comparing National Policies. Stockholm 2001, pp. 38-59, here p. 41. 129 The political debate preceding the EU accession was then, however, marked by fervent discussions, in the course of which a series of odd, and in respect to Sweden’s future fellow members, awkward rhetoric faux pas were made by high rank politicians. The early debate provides an embarrassing number of cases where the community is identified with ‘conservatives’, ‘colonialists’, ‘capitalists’ and ‘catholics’, or a ‘supposedly undesirable bedfellow for upright Swedes.’455 Still today, more than ten years after the EU accession, the so called “no”-parties (Swed. nej-partier) form an important element in the inner-Swedish debate, with the question of whether being generally in favour or hostile towards Swedish EU-membership still building the decisive dividing line running across the domestic political landscape.456 In Finland, the public debate about joining the Union happened to be far less controversial. This was mainly because Finland had a specific security political objective which to achieve was perceived to be largely dependent upon Finnish membership in the EC. In the first place, the Finns viewed European integration as a way to “return to Europe” and a “liberation from past dependencies.” Most specifically, they perceived formal EC membership as a means of securing their protracted border with Russia.457 Herolf found a charming way to characterise the Swedish attitude about European integration Swedish views of the future of Europe tend to be more intergovernmental than supranational. [...] Swedish policy ambitions are those of a small state that has not hesitated on occasions to take its own road.458 What does this ‘minor’ matter entail for Swedish membership in a Union that is per definitionem supranational? Bo Huldt identified three factors lying at the basis of Swedish reluctance. First, it is the argument of neutrality, second, a distinct propensity to maintain its full sovereignty, and third, it is “a rather nebulous category of arguments which concern Swedish ‘identity’ and a general aversion to ‘other identities’.”459 Ten years after the EU accession, the Swedish population is still among the most eurosceptical in the Union. Its Nordic fellow Finland in turn has gained the reputation of being the Nordic ‘model pupil.’460 Unsurprisingly, the Finnish gains in the context of the European Monetary Union (EMU) and the implementation of the single currency were not very much appreciated by ‘big brother’ Sweden. However, after a short uproar following the Swedish referendum, the Swedes returned to reluctant self-sufficiency. Immediately after the referendum rejecting the euro, tensions were high between those who voted for and against joining the single currency. Now the issue is hardly debated at all; the fact that the Euro’s two most important countries – France and Germany – have not observed the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact means that for most people joining the 455 HULDT Bo: Sweden and European Community-building 1945-92. In: HARDEN Sheila (ed.): Neutral States and the EC. London 1994, pp. 104-143, here pp. 111-112. 456 See GEBHARD Carmen: Europäische Integration und Neutralität. Österreich und Schweden im Vergleich. Diplomarbeit Vienna 2004, p. 167. 457 See INGEBRITSEN Christine: The Nordic States and European Unity. Cornell 1998, p. 16. 458 HEROLF Gunilla: Views from the capitals. Swedes at last uniting on the EU – they want to reform it. In: Europe’s World, Autumn 2005. Online available at [23 August 2007]. 459 HULDT Bo: Sweden and European Community-building 1945-92. In: HARDEN Sheila (ed.): Neutral States and the EC. London 1994, pp. 104-143, here pp. 111-112. 460 See e.g. BRANDER Richard: Bästa elev i klassen. In: Id. (ed.): Finland och Sverige i EU. Tio år av medlemskap. Helsinki 2004, pp. 48-53. 130 eurozone is out of the question. The fact that the Swedish economy is doing so well outside the euro is another persuasive factor.461 For Finland in turn, joining the Monetary Union has never been a very controversial question. Finland generally pursued a more pragmatic course, trying to make the best out of its membership without taking any major risk of violating the principle of solidarity and loyalty. An issue where both Finland and Sweden actually adhered to a similar course was enlargement.462 Both were fervent supporters of the ‘Big Bang’ enlargement, and in contrast to many Central European countries, assumed a rather undogmatic position in the context of the debate on Turkey. However, once again, both Nordics had very different ideas about how the pre-enlargement process of the CEECs and the Baltic States should be developed in detail,463 and they had different expectations concerning a Turkish membership. Generally, Finland proved to have much better records in its membership conduct while the permanent Swedish exceptionalism often seemed inappropriate and counterproductive, evermore provoking scepticism and suspicion among the other 23/25. This applies largely for the Swedish foreign political style assumed during the pre-accession process of the Baltic States where Sweden’s attempts of taking over a leading role often happened to become self-defeating and supportive of the impression that Swedish rhetorics were often “too big for its boots”.464 Before turning to the “major Swedish-Finnish divide” in the question of the EU ND, the following chapter will give a brief overview of the two Nordics’ approach towards the BSR.465 2. Sweden, Finland and the BSR After 1989, the BSR constituted something of a “power vacuum,” with Germany being blocked because of internal difficulties and Russia being “out of the game” for the first decade following the decline of the Soviet empire.466 Sweden and Finland had to reposition themselves within the region by first of all, compensating for the void that emerged in the Nordic North (old Norden) after it had lost its middle way status.467 For the two Nordic states, thinking the BSR in terms of cooperation instead of division and block confrontation was a wholly new experience. During the Cold War, trade as 461 HEROLF Gunilla: Views from the capitals. Swedes at last uniting on the EU – they want to reform it. In: Europe’s World, Autumn 2005. Online publication available at [23 August 2007]. 462 HEROLF Gunilla: The Swedish Approach. Constructive Competition for a Common Goal. In: BONVICINI Gianni/VAAHTORANTA Tapani/WESSELS Wolfgang (eds): The Northern EU. National Views on the Emerging Security Dimension. Helsinki 2000, pp. 141-160, here 147. 463 See BRANDER Richard: Lågvattenmärke i relationerna. In: Id. (ed.): Finland och Sverige i EU. Tio år av medlemskap. Helsinki 2004, pp. 67-85, here p. 76. 464 Wiberg introduced this phrase while characterising Swedish foreign policy conduct in the beginning of the 20th century. See WIBERG Håkan: Emanuel Adler, Michael Barnett and Anomalous Northerners. In: Cooperation and Conflict 3/2000, pp. 289-298, here p. 295. 465 BRANDER Richard: Lågvattenmärke i relationerna, here p. 80. 466 See SWIECICKI Jakub: Östersjön. Säkerhet och samarbete. In: The Swedish Institute of International Affairs/Utrikespolitiska Institutet (ed.): Världspolitikens Dagsfrågor Nr. 12/1996. Stockholm 1996, p. 11. 467 See MUSIAL Kazimierz: Education, Research and the Baltic Sea Region-building. In: Id. (ed.): Approaching Knowledge Society in the Baltic Sea Region. Gda?sk/Berlin 2002, pp. 42-60, here p. 48. 131 well as political and human relations across the Baltic Sea rim had not deserved the name of a region; cooperative relationships had been limited to the Nordic sphere, consisting of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. However, soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, proactive cooperation between the Nordic States and the newly emerged democracies on “the other side” of the sea started to develop, putting forth an immense variety of cooperative structures and projects of cross-border collaboration. Sweden and Finland as the two major stakeholders in the BSR found very different ways to adapt their regional orientation to the new geopolitical setting and the circumstances of newly emerging openness and cooperativeness across old dividing lines. In the context of the bipolar setting, Sweden had mainly focussed on global engagement, contributing to and interfering in far off contexts such as the Korean dispute or the relationship between Cuba and the US.468 For Sweden, the end of the Cold War brought some blessings, but it also brought hitherto relatively unknown strategic problems. On the one hand, Baltic freedom from superpower oppression and the reestablishment of three independent states along the Swedish borders was good news for the community of small states and for democracy worldwide. Sweden suddenly no longer had one dominant neighbour to the east and the south, but faced a whole number of friendly, independent states, some of which were small and vulnerable, much more so than Sweden itself, while another had doubled in size overnight.469 The end of the Cold War era pushed Sweden towards a more openly activist attitude in its adjacent geographic area. Evidence for a change in its respective political orientation gradually began to take place in the early 1990s, when Sweden started to invest a considerable amount of political engagement, and not least, money, in order to help Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in a neighbourly effort, trying to safeguard and support their fragile independence and sovereignty. However, the closer the prospect of Baltic EU membership moved, the more it became clear that these efforts were not mere courtesy. In the years preceding the 2004 enlargements, Sweden sought eagerly to establish itself as an advocate for its Baltic neighbours, as many of its major strategic interests appeared to be touched by the Baltic transformation process. Notwithstanding the importance of the Balkans, the main arena for the Swedish pursuit of strengthening the transatlantic link, as well as for its foreign policy activism in the post Cold War era has been the BSR. As the centre of policy shifted from the Developing World to Europe in the early 1990s, the focus of Swedish security was placed on developments in the own neighbourhood, with special attention paid to the independence and survival of the three small and weak Baltic countries that had newly been freed from Soviet occupation.470 468 See JERNECK Magnus: Olof Palme. En internationell propagandist. In: HULDT Bo/MISGELD Klas (eds.): Socialdemokratin och den svenska utrikespolitiken. Stockholm 1990, pp. 112-139, here p. 119. 469 DAHL Ann-Sofie: To be or not to be Neutral. Swedish Security Strategy on the Post Cold War Era. In: INBAR Efraim/SHEFFER Gabriel (eds): The National Security of Small States in a Changing World. London 1997, pp. 175-196, here p. 188. 470 DAHL Ann-Sofie: Activist Sweden. The Last Defender of Non-Alignment. In: Id./HILLMER Norman (eds): Activism and (Non)Alignment. Stockholm 2002, pp. 139-150, here p. 146. 132 This Swedish focus on the geographically adjacent areas was not entirely new. The issue of Sweden’s geostrategic orientation had always been a question of party politics. While the Conservatives had always put a special focus on the BSR, the Social Democrats rather focussed on bilateral cooperation far outside the near neighbourhood. Already prior to Baltic independence, Swedish Conservatives and Liberals had for months organised public rallies around the country to support the Baltic cause. Under the Bildt cabinet, as from 1991, the BSR became the obvious centre of Swedish security policy, with the Prime Minister himself being personally involved in negotiations for the Soviet military withdrawal from Baltic territory. While Swedish Social Democrats in many ways were newcomers to the Baltic Sea region, it was quickly incorporated into their foreign and security policies when they again turned to power in 1994. The Bildt government brought the region to its central position in Swedish policy, but it has since stayed in that place, without regard to the ideological shadings of the party or parties of power. Prime Minister Persson has shown a very special interest in promoting stability in the region, demonstrating from his first days in office that this was indeed an issue close to his heart – and causing multiple diplomatic hiccups at the Foreign Ministry with his early statement that ‘the Baltic cause is the Swedish cause,’ a declaration that suggested a degree of commitment for which Swedish diplomats were not prepared.471 The seminal event Dahl is alluding to in this quotation was indeed one of the key moments in the history of Swedish post Soviet Baltic Sea policy. At his inauguration as Prime Minister in March 1996, Persson had stated that Sweden would engage for the Baltic interests just as if it was a domestic concern (Swed. Balternas sak är vår, literally, ‘the affairs of the Baltics are ours as well’). This strong expression of Swedish commitment raised considerable irritations among Sweden’s Nordic fellows, most importantly Finland, but also on the Baltic side, it was received with distinct reservation. During the summer months of 1996, Prime Minister Göran Persson toured the Baltic States to maintain dialogue and discuss issues such as security in the region. The event would have not raised too much attention had it not been for some statements pertaining to Baltic security made in Riga and Vilnius. In Riga, Mr. Persson said: We now know that Latvia wants to become a member of NATO. We respect this and we shall do what we can to support Latvia in the process’ [4 June 1996]. As expected, this statement raised considerable confusion. What did Persson really mean regarding Latvian NATO membership? Would Sweden serve as an envoy speaking on behalf of Latvian NATO membership? Were Persson’s choice of words simply a Freudian slip or did he have deeper motives, such as testing how far Sweden could be part of the debate without raising too many reactions?472 These were just examples in a whole series of curious official Swedish statements in the Baltic context. Sweden evidently tried to promote its alleged appropriateness to serve as a moral leader of transformation in the BSR. The Swedish policy of cooperation in the region was to some extent one of seeking to create and secure stability in the post Cold War setting. However, another strong motive was the Swedish ambition to attain regional leadership, to transfer its Nordic conviction to the former Warsaw Pact countries to an extent that would strengthen its own standing in Northern Europe, 471 Ibd., here p. 146. 472 LINDSTRÖM Gustav: Sweden’s Security Policy. Engagement – the Middle Way. In: European Institute for Security Studies, Occasional Papers, No. 2/1997, p. 13. 133 including also prospects of an enlarged Nordic bloc. In fact, after the Danish defeat in the context of the Maastricht Treaty and the negative referendum in Norway, Sweden would have been given a double opportunity to take over the role of a Northern European leader.473 However, the factual absurdity of the Swedish prospects and of the resulting strategic choices in its post Cold War identity building process became apparent once the whole process started to take an unfavourable (albeit predictable) course: the Baltic States sought more direct channels to reconstruct their way ‘back into Europe’ and showed little interest in the Swedish offer of a ‘third way.’ The Swedish disappointment about the Baltics’ eagerness to join the NATO was evident, even though, telling from the overall geostrategic situation it should not have come as a surprise. This Swedish disappointment could serve as part of an explanation why the early Swedish commitment for the ‘Baltic affair,’ in the eve of their accession, turned into overt frustration. The Swedish domestic discourse about the upcoming EU enlargement was dominated by negative sentiments; headwords like the “imminent danger of Baltic social tourists” (Persson, March 2004) and the Prime Minister’s proposal of a “new membership tax” to secure that the new members would contribute appropriately to the relative gains resulting from their accession shed very negative light on the formerly fervent supporter of enlargement.474 In contrast to this seesaw course of its Nordic brother, Finland pursued a much more straightforward approach in the BSR post Cold War setting. In contrast to Sweden, Finland remained fully supportive of the Baltic States’ striving for full both European and transatlantic integration. Finland had always followed a pragmatic course in the NATO context, never openly striving for membership itself, but however, never ruling the membership option out the way Sweden did. Hence, despite some reservations regarding the possible Russian reaction, Finland did not have any substantial concerns about a Baltic NATO-enlargement. While Finland followed this clear supportive line at the highest politico-strategic level, it nevertheless assumed an idiosyncratic position in the context of the Baltic EU preaccession process. Finland showed a strong selective commitment for the Estonian case and fervently supported the country’s quest for a preferential treatment in the accession negotiations.475 This again provoked considerable irritations on the Swedish side since Sweden strongly supported a lockstep model for the Baltic Sea states, repeatedly stressing that the preferential treatment of one of them could “send the wrong signals to the candidate states and lead to a negative atmosphere and attitude among them.”476 The Swedish view is that [...] there is much to be gained from supporting the positive developments made so far, and it is much more costly to deal with frustration from those who consider that they have not been fairly treated in the enlargement process.477 473 DÖRFER Ingmar: Nordic Nations in the New Western Security Regime. Washington 1997, p. 36. 474 See GEBHARD Carmen: Europäische Integration und Neutralität. Österreich und Schweden im Vergleich. Diplomarbeit Vienna 2004, p. 201. 475 See BRANDER Richard: Lågvattenmärke i relationerna. In: Id. (ed.): Finland och Sverige i EU. Tio år av medlemskap. Helsinki 2004, pp. 67-85, here p. 76. 476 See HEROLF Gunilla: The Swedish Approach. Constructive Competition for a Common Goal. In: BONVICINI Gianni/VAAHTORANTA Tapani/WESSELS Wolfgang (eds): The Northern EU. National Views on the Emerging Security Dimension. Programme on the Northern Dimension of CFSP. Helsinki/Berlin 2000, pp. 141–60, here p. 147. 477 Ibd., here p. 153. 134 From a Swedish point of view, the act of enlargement itself had much more significant impact on the region than small steps and achievements in the field of cross-border cooperation could have.478 Finland assumed a more pragmatic attitude and largely detached the enlargement issue from other efforts of ‘getting the EU involved’ in the region. The Finnish ND initiative opened another chapter in the history of the Swedish- Finnish divide in regional matters. E. The EU Northern Dimension – Showcase for the Swedish-Finnish Divide? I. The Irony of Competition II The immediate post Cold War setting appeared to provide the ideal framework for the Nordic ideology of peaceful cooperation and pacifism to eventually triumph on a wider European scale. For the first time in decades, enduring international peace seemed within reach; however, ironically, this scenery did not allow for the traditional and widely established Nordic ‘third way’ to do ‘business as usual’. After decades of Nordic engagement and effort to keep the tension in the Nordic region low, surprisingly, the lack of bipolar tension indeed had a negative impact on Nordicness and Nordic togetherness.479 The global political changes had significant repercussions on the functioning of Nordic togetherness.480 Decisive markers in this context have been each Nordic country’s choices in the context of European integration. First, it was Denmark in 1973, and then Sweden and Finland in 1995, to abandon the old Nordic policy of distanciation. Norway and Iceland have continued to adhere to their traditional positions. This situation left the Nordic countries divided on an essential issue. The majority [of the Nordic group] had transcended the borderline that used to be rather important for the Nordic self-understanding, while others have remained with these policies. […] Norden was no longer the same joint meeting-ground it used to be now that a major constitutive wall or external borderline, that of ‘Europe’, had fallen.481 However, EU-accession and consequent membership itself were not the sole factors to determine the applicability of Nordic togetherness. What actually decided for the Nordic system of cooperation to loose momentum was the choice of the Nordic EU member states to remain within or to detach themselves from the Nordic commonsense. There actually was considerable potential for newly integrated countries like Sweden and Finland to at least get together in a Nordic coalition within the EU and thus, to pool common interests and common goals as they had been present throughout decades of Nordic cooperation. The departures of the Nordics could have been unified to the extent that Norden could have been given the function of a vehicle for the Nordic Member States to coordinate their European policies. Most importantly, the EU ND could have 478 See DUBOIS Jeroen: The Northern Dimension as Prototype of the Wider Europe Framework Policy. University of Liverpool, Working Paper. Liverpool 2004, p. 3. 479 See DAHL Ann-Sofie: To Be or Not to Be Neutral. Swedish Security Strategy on the Post Cold War Era. In: INBAR Efraim/SHEFFER Gabriel (eds): The National Security of Small States in a Changing World. London 1997, pp. 175-196, here p. 187. 480 See chapter “Nordic Togetherness – the Changing Role of Nordic Cooperation”, p. 61-. 481 JOENNIEMI Pertti: Norden as a Post-Nationalist Construction. In: Id. (ed.): Neo-Nationalism or Regionality. The Restructuring of political space around the Baltic Rim. Stockholm 1997, pp. 181- 234, here p. 187.

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Seit 1989 ist es im Ostseeraum zu einer explosionsartigen Entstehung einer Vielzahl von regionalen Initiativen und Zusammenschlüssen gekommen. Der Ostseeraum weist bis heute eine europaweit einzigartig hohe Konzentration an kooperativen regionalen Strukturen auf. Diese bilden gemeinsam ein enges Netzwerk von Vereinigungen, die unter dem Überbegriff der "Ostseezusammenarbeit’ interagieren.

Diese Studie analysiert die Hintergründe dieses regionalen Phänomens oder so genannten „Ostsee-Rätsels“ auf Basis eines Vergleichs zwischen den Regionalpolitiken zweier staatlicher Schlüsselakteure, Schweden und Finnland, wobei der europäische Integrationsprozess als übergeordneter Bezugsrahmen für die Untersuchung dient.