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«Sub-National Island Jurisdictions as Configurations of Jurisdictional Powers and Economic Capacity: Nordic Experiences from Åland, Faroes and ...»

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Being able to cope with hard times – recessions and economic crises – the Faroese have gained an incrementally stronger self-confidence which, in turn, has affected their willingness to take on new political and administrative responsibilities. The most important explanation to the Faroese success story is probably the dynamism of its Home Rule construction. This has spurred a continual development both on a political and on an economic level. The jurisdictional powers have been, truly, resourceful. The main strategic challenge of the Faroese society is to maintain the present balance.

In the case of Åland, there is no perfect match. The economic capacity is stronger than the jurisdictional powers available. Since the jurisdictional powers cannot match the challenges that the core industry – the shipping industry – presently faces, there is a risk that this will negatively affect the economic capacity of Åland. A deteriorating shipping cluster is a real threat to the state of its overall economy. As long as the shipping industry has been able to cope – or rather flourish – on its own, the delimited jurisdictional powers

156 Åland, Faroes and Greenland as Sub-National Island Jurisdictions

have not constituted a real problem. Today´s fierce international competition, however, requires an institutionally beneficial home milieu. The authorities of Finland have not, at least not in the past, been willing to provide the shipping cluster of Åland with such a milieu. The question is: are the authorities of Åland prepared to start that dialogue with the Realm that is required for an enhanced autonomy? And is the Finnish government prepared to consider, let alone entertain, such a dialogue? The main strategic challenge of the society of Åland concerns its political entrepreneurship.

In the case of Greenland there is also an imperfect match. The formal jurisdictional powers are strong but the state of the economy does not make it possible to fully “reap the jurisdictional fruits”. Despite a generous Danish attitude, the de facto jurisdictional powers are even, at least in some sense, less than the de jure powers. The segregation of the Greenlandic society and the deficiency of democracy, when it comes to a large proportion of the population, reduce the de facto powers. Still, the jurisdictional powers clearly exceed the economic capacity. The huge strategic challenge that the authorities of Greenland face is to convert a centralized Home Rule capitalism into a grass roots economy. Developing a regionally and locally based entrepreneurship is crucial to the success of this conversion and to the creation of indigenous economic capacity.

Concluding Remarks

In this paper, the divergence between jurisdictional powers and economic capacity has been scrutinized and discussed in relation to the three Nordic sub-national island jurisdictions. The resourcefulness of jurisdictional powers thesis, which is prominent in the present island studies debate, has been fleshed out by the empirical experiences of these three Nordic SNIJs: Åland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. An ideal-type SNIJ, characterized by the balance between jurisdictional powers and economic capacity, has been deduced from the literature. This ideal-type has then “guided” the empirical research in the search of differentiated SNIJ forms.

Exploring the differentiated SNIJ population is an important research endeavour since one is likely to find not one but a number of divergent empirical expressions and manifestations of “the best of all possible worlds” (Baldacchino, 2006: 680).

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