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Helsingborg, Sweden
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro 2014

The Swedish Network for European Studies in Economics and Business (SNEE), held its 16th annual conference on European Integration at the Grand Hôtel in Mölle from 20th to 23rd May 2014. The focal point of discussion was the ongoing developments in the area of European integration, specifically issues related to policy influencing economic developments in the region.

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This gem of a hotel located on top of a hill is about a forty-five minutes drive from Helsingborg.

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Professor Lars Oxelheim, Chairman of the Swedish Network for European Studies in Economics and Business (SNEE), during his Welcome Speech. He also introduced Keynote Speaker Mr. Peter Norman, Swedish Minister for Financial Markets who spoke about financial stability in the EU context.

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Professor Lars Oxelheim together with Keynote Speaker Professor Kiyohiko G. Nishimura, Dean, Business School, University of Tokyo, former Deputy Governor of Bank of Japan, who addressed the issue of what Europe could learn from Japan in the experience of Abenomics or economic policies and reforms advocated by Japan’s Prime Mister Abe after 2012.

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The view standing at the patio of Grand Hôtel.

Cross-disciplinary conversations do not occur often enough in academia. And it has been generally agreed that the location of the conference together with the calm and inviting view of the ocean would encourage friendlier, more constructive discussions on EU integration.

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Session with Associate Professor Anna Jonsson.
Chair of the session was Lars Anell, Chairman of the Swedish Research Council and formerly Sweden’s United Nations and World Trade Organisation Ambassador in Geneva and EU Ambassaodor in Brussles.

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Session with Associate Professor Patrik Ström, President of the Council for European Association for Research on Services (RESER), where he discussed the services industry in Latin America in relation to the EU.

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A slide capture from my own presentation, discussing EU-ASEAN relations as regional integrators
from a co-evolutionary perspective. I had as discussant to my paper, Lars Anell.

In Anell’s (2014) most recent publication entitled Democracy in Europe – an essay on the real democratic problem in the European Union, I could not help but smile whilst reading the pages discussing “the Union as process”:

“In common parlance the Community was referred to as a process – “a journey without a definite destination” Jacques Delors famously called it an Unidentified Political Object (UPO)” (Anell 2014:13)

“Related to the perception of the Union as a process is the conviction of a broad political elite that the project must keep moving relentlessly towards an “ever closer union” or the project will be derailed. You are not even allowed to pause. Almost all the leading European politicians – Helmut Kohl, Paul-Henri Spaak and Jacques Delors among them – have supported their arguments with the well-known bicycle metaphor. You have to keep pedalling otherwise you will fall over. Anyone who has moderate experience of using a bicycle knows that this is patently false. You can use the brakes and put down your feet when the bike comes to a stop – and take out the map to see where you are going.” (Anell 2014:14)

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Dinner at Sofiero
Participants and speakers often arrive at different times during the conference days. But if there was a specific event at this conference not to be missed, it would be the dinner held at Sofiero.

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Sofiero is the Swedish royal family’s summer house that has since the late 1970s, been open to the public. Its garden is renowned for the Rhododendron – all five hundred varieties of them – that blossom at this time of the year, sown in sprawling fashion across its slopes that contain its very own trickling brook.

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Mingle by the sea that meets Helsingør of Denmark.

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“You’ve read Hamlet?”
“Yes, a very long time ago.”
“You see that castle across the sea?
“Ah yes, I see it.”
“That would be the Danish royal castle, Elsinore where Shakespeare based his tragedy.”
“Mmm. Opening on a cold winter’s night, …”There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Yes, I remember that one.”

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Dinner was promptly served, with a free seating arrangement for the guests.
The culinary team at Sofiero was kind enough to cater to special order menus.

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By trade, Mölle was once a small fishing village that is today undergoing a rapid transformation to encompass the services industry, catering specifically to the culinary and well-being tourism industries.

The speeches of highlight towards the end of of the conference, the vibrant talk and laughter that transpired between groups of individuals over dinner and coffee breaks, all lent support to the initial observation that the location and ambiance of the place was conducive for the exchange of knowledge and the planning of future research collaborations across disciplines. This would be an annual event worth looking forward to.