The Nordic Baltic region has been struggling through the COVID-19 crisis. Thousands have lost their lives; many people have lost their jobs and the existence of countless companies has been threatened. Our welfare system and prosperity have shielded us from the abysmal crisis in which poorer and less organized countries in the world have been struggling with.
As the vaccination programs are showing their worth in several countries, we are getting closer to a situation that resembles the one before the pandemic. It is now time to direct our attention to our responsibility to the fight for a green, more socially just future. We have the tools and opportunities, and we need to get started now. There is no time to waste. Let’s not use the International Workers’ Day to speak exclusively of how we have led our countries through the dark period of the corona crisis. Let’s use the International Workers’ Day to talk about how we are using the political force to secure more mobility and more progressive change in the Nordic Baltic region.
The fight for a green and socially just Nordic Baltic region should start here:
1. A “Green New Deal” for the Nordic Baltic region
Climate change has not disappeared during the worldwide pandemic crisis. There is a need for the Nordic Baltic countries to join forces in a green new deal for our part of the world. We can raise the level of green ambition in the rest of the world with a green and progressive Nordic Baltic region. A common Nordic Baltic alliance will push the rest of the world towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. Our cooperation within must be stronger. The alliance must harmonize our climate laws across our countries. We should coordinate research, infrastructure investments and create a strong green market. One place that we believe we should start is to coordinate common agricultural and food policy, which seizes new opportunities for sustainable food production. The goal is to create the world’ss first circular economy in the Nordic Baltic region.
In addition, we must create this century’s investment plan to secure new green jobs, which ensures safe and well-paid jobs in new green industries. Not making these investments now will greatly increase costs in the future. Therefore, part of the investments must be loan-financed as the alternative will be to fire taxation of the working class or large cuts in the welfare states. Here, the social democracies in the Nordic Baltic countries must not compromise.
2. A socially just economy
The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated inequalities in the world. The richest have become even richer in the stock markets, all while the poorest are at the back of the vaccine queues. A stronger joined Nordic Baltic cooperation must press for the fight against economic inequality in the world and ensure more socially just economies at our own latitudes. The Social Democrats in our countries should stand together to develop a plan towards the year of 2030, which will ensure more equality and more opportunities for everyone in the economy. Not to mention the increasingly pressured working class.
We should and need to start with securing a bottom out in the European corporate tax and force Tech Giants to contribute to the community by paying taxes. A new business policy must provide incentives to increase the number of democratic companies in the Nordic Baltic region, and ensure that far more companies choose partial employees, consumer or producer ownership in connection with generational change. At the same time, we must regulate the financial sector, which is constantly eating into the productive economy and ensure that our labour market models become even stronger.
3. International Labour Day is a day of international solidarity
The pandemic has not only increased inequality in our own countries, but taken the positive developments in the wrong direction throughout the world. Gender equality and economic inequality have been taken back ten years. If the world is to overcome the pandemic, we must raise international solidarity. To fight corona, we need to ensure a fair distribution of vaccines around the world. Our countries are among the luckiest countries in the world, we have a well-functioning health care system, a welfare state and we all have authorities and governments that do not use the pandemic for their own gain. Around the world, the authoritarian forces have done the opposite. Human rights and international law are violated on a daily basis. We must always safeguard and strengthen our international rules, to support our comrades who fight for their freedom and basic human rights throughout the world.
4. A progressive future for the youth
Thousands of especially young people have been affected hard during the COVID-19 crisis. We are looking at a growing youth unemployment, especially for the young people with the shortest education and the lowest incomes. The growing inequality also holds a large generation gap. A bigger part of the prosperity concentrates in the older generations in our countries, while it becomes harder for the younger generations to get access to cheap and affordable housing and proper jobs.
Statistics across our countries show that the mental health of our youth is deteriorating, and the COVID-19 crisis has only made the situation worse. The Nordic Baltic region must secure the most optimal conditions for the future generations. We must build more affordable housing, invest massively in the qualification of young unskilled and give economic incentives so that young people come first in line for new jobs. At the same time, we have to ensure that physical and psychological diseases get equated. Not just in words and in laws but also in real investments.
There is so much more to do. Challenges are towering and the Nordic Baltic region has the opportunity to solve many of these challenges together. It requires a stronger cooperation regarding a green, social just direction from the social democratic parties. As representatives of the social democratic youth organizations over the entire Nordic Baltic, we are worried about our generation.
We fear that the COVID-19 crisis will lower the level of political ambition going forward. We fear that there will be fewer structural changes implemented because our populations have been through major upheavals during the crisis. But we do not spare ourselves by turning down the ambition. On the contrary, we must use the new insights from the COVID-19 crisis to strengthen our communities and the readiness of the social market economy to turn up the ambitions. The Social Democrats in the Nordic Baltic region must use this International Workers’ Day to set clear goals for a green and socially just change in our society. There is not a spot on the planet where the surplus to have the long light on is as great as here. Get ready to work Social Democrats! The future is calling to you!
On behalf of FNSU and the Nordic Baltic youth organization for Social Democrats
Sosialidemokraattiset Opiskelijat (SONK), Finland
Danmarks Socialdemokratiske Ungdom (DSU), Denmark
Arbeidernes Ungdomsfylking (AUF), Norway
Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Ungdomsförbund (SSU), Sweden
Sosialidemokraattiset Nuoret / Demarinuoret, Finland
Ungir jafnaðarmenn (UJ), Iceland
Sosialistisk Ung (SU), Faroe Islands
Noored Sotsiaaldemokraadid (NS), Estonia
Socialdemokratiska studentförbundet (S-studenter), Sweden
Siumut Ungdom, Greenland