I dag skrivs en viktig sida i Europas historiebok. Storbritannien påbörjar en två år lång process som leder till skilsmässa från den Europeiska unionen.

Debatten kring brexit har fokuserat på kortsiktiga reflektioner: kostnader, processer och marknadsreaktioner.  Få har lyft fram det historiska med  britternas beslut.

2019, när Storbritannien lämnar EU, är ett lika historiskt år som 1952 när kol­ och stålgemenskapen grundades, eller 1989 då det kalla kriget tog slut.

I varje kris finns en möjlighet. Själv tycker jag att EU borde reagera på fem sätt.

1. Fortsätt utvidgningen.

Det blir första gången som en medlems­stat lämnar EU. Detta har aldrig skett tidigare. EU har varit som Eagles­låten Hotel California: ”You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.

Nu lämnar britterna EU, men detta bör absolut inte bli en broms för vidare utvidgningar. Tvärtom.

Utvidgningen har lätt till demokrati och marknadsreformer på hela kontinenten.

2. Försvara EU:s värderingar.

Efter brexit och valet av Donald Trump söker den fria världen nya ledare.

Stommen till EU:s värderingar – demokrati, frihet, jämställdhet, rätts­staten och mänskliga rättigheter – är viktigare än någonsin.

EU har lyckats främja fred, säkerhet, välfärd och stabilitet baserade på dessa värderingar. Nu, mer än någonsin, krävs det ryggrad och mod av ledande politiker att fortsätta försvaret.

3. Vårda EU:s fyra friheter.

Storbritannien har varit en viktig drivkraft i liberaliseringen av EU:s inre marknad.

Fria rörligheten av varor, service, arbetare och pengar har varit grunden till Europas ekonomiska tillväxt och därmed finansieringen av gemene välfärdsstat.

I en värld av ekonomisk populism och protektionism, måste marknadsvänliga EU­länder ta över när britterna lämnar ifrån sig stafettpinnen.

4. Satsa på säkerhet.

Storbritannien är medlem i FN:s säkerhetsråd och Nato. EU tappar en global spelare samtidigt som USA:s presidentkräver att Europa tar mera ansvar för sitt eget försvar. Gör det då.

EU länderna bör fördjupa säkerhets­samarbetet och se till att britterna är med alltid när det är möjligt. Detta borde gynna länder som Sverige och Finland som tyvärr står utanför Nato.

5. Reflektera om EU:s framtid.

På ett sätt har reflektionen redan börjat. Kommissionen har lagt ut fem alternativ och EU ledarna skrev under en deklaration Romfördraget till ära. En bra början, men inte tillräckligt.

Det går bara inte att fortsätta med samma dubbelmoralistiska retorik. Det går inte att skälla på EU varje gång det gäller något negativt och hylla sig själv när någonting lyckas. Brexit är inte EU:s begravning, även om jag tycker att det är ett av det dum­maste besluten som Storbritannien har fattat efter andra världskriget.

Det kan bli en ny början, precis som 1952 och 1989. Europa har inte råd med nationalism och protektionism. Själv tror jag att brexit och Donald Trump kan vara just det som EU behövde  i populismens och antiglobalismens tidevarv – en väckarklocka.

I remember being one of the few pro-Europe government ministers to give a thumbs up to David Cameron’s gamble on a referendum on EU membership. I felt it was time for the reluctant bride to reaffirm its vows. I was sure the marriage would last. My British wife thought differently, that it would spell disaster.

I never believed the UK would leave the EU. I always felt British rationality would prevail over the emotion and fake news linked to membership. But I was wrong, my wife was right. On Wednesday, as divorce proceedings begin, many will ask whether this is the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning for both the UK and the EU.

Analysis has been focused on the short-term impact of Brexit — the cost, timing and transition — rather than its historical effect. At the end of the day, I believe we will all be worse off, but in every crisis lies an opportunity.

On the Richter scale the referendum ranks with the biggest of earthquakes in international politics. In historical significance, Wednesday’s letter of exit stands next to the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952 and the end of the cold war in 1989. Here are three reasons why.

First, never before has a fully fledged member left the EU. Yes, Greenland did leave and took with it immense amounts of fish, but it is not an independent country. The EU’s appeal has always been such that nations have wanted to join it, not leave.

In many ways enlargement has been the Union’s most successful policy as it expanded from the original six to 28, with another dozen hoping to join the club one day. The prospect of membership has led to democratic transformation and economic reform in many hopeful nations. Eastern and Central European countries competed to be first to fulfill the accession criteria.

So will Britain’s exit make the EU less alluring? Perhaps, but it will not stop the Balkans and others from pursuing entry to the world’s biggest market and most successful peace project. Nor will it lead others to leave — the cost is simply too high.

Second, Brexit will allow the members to pursue deeper integration — if they so desire. Many countries have used the UK as a smokescreen and will lose their best excuse for less pooling of sovereignty. Yet I actually think there is not much appetite now for a leap towards ever closer union.

There has been a lot of jibberish about differentiated integration as the UK leaves. But that was already allowed for by the rules of enhanced co-operation. We will see more flexibility inside the EU, but no core Europe outside. The DNA of European integration has been based on the sometimes uncomfortable balance between deepening and widening. Before every expansion, integration has deepened; it happens before enlargement, not after exit.

Finally, Brexit will force the EU to think about its own future. The European Commission’s five options for the Union and the declaration celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome are steps in the right direction. Will they be enough? Probably not, but they are a good start.

Reform is never easy, particularly when it involves pooling sovereignty and sharing responsibility on a supranational level. The blame game never ends; local politicians accuse national decision makers who in turn point their finger at Brussels. Yet most understand that there are only common solutions to common problems. And co-operating in one area usually leads to pressure to do so in another.

After the EU loses a nuclear power and permanent member of the UN Security Council, it will have to deepen co-operation on defence, and this will follow through on immigration and asylum policy. That is how the coal and steel community moved towards an economic community, customs union, single market, European union, common currency and banking union.

The Union’s main goals — peace, prosperity, security and stability — are more important than ever. The big question is how to organise the EU’s work to best serve its almost half a billion people. Brexit will have a potential ideological impact — the Union will lose a market reformer, free trader and strong advocate of the single market. In an age of economic populism and protectionism, like-minded countries will have to defend its four basic freedoms on the movement of goods, services, labour and money.

I believe the EU and its leaders should seize the moment after Brexit, pursue a serious round of self-reflection and reform accordingly. There was a great case for European integration and co-operation in 1952 and 1989. That case remains as strong as ever, especially after Brexit in 2019.

I have always been a fan of idioms, old sayings, and figures of speech. They say a lot about the language, heritage, and culture of a country. They also reveal how people think.

Take, for example, the fact that Finland is ranked the fifth happiest country in the world, according to the recently released 2017 World Happiness Report. Yet Finns are not known to be the most smiling of people, unless you mention that Finland is four places ahead of Sweden in the rankings. Then you may crack a smile.

But a close look at Finnish sayings – most of them are old and should be taken with a grain of salt, as they do not reflect the optimism and international ambition of today’s youth – is revealing. They say a lot about the Finnish soul and reflect the fact that our history has not always been a bed of roses. Many older idioms are hilariously miserable.

Let’s start with the “life sucks” category. As an eternal optimist I have always loved pessimisti ei koskaan pety, which translates to “the pessimist will never be disappointed.” Well, of course not. Play it safe, don’t expect that anything good will ever happen, and you won’t be disappointed.

That’s why it’s only natural that we believe “happiness will always end in tears,” itku pitkästä ilosta. And just to make the point, one of our greatest poets, Eino Leino (1878–1926), wrote kel onni on se onnen kätkeköön, “Whoever is happy should hide it.”

And how about setting high aims? Today’s motivational literature often talks about setting ambitious goals. A classic expression from Finnish history would disagree: se joka kuuseen kurkottaa se katajaan kapsahtaa – “if you reach for the spruce you will fall onto the juniper.” In other words, don’t go aiming too high, because the higher you go, the harder the fall.

I am glad to say that my teenagers laugh out loud when they hear these sayings.

This is exactly why you should learn a few Finnish sayings before you land. It’s a great topic for small talk, albeit when I did an exchange year in the United States my Swedish-speaking grandmother told me: att tala är silver, att tiga är guld – “to speak is silver, to be silent is gold.” Not necessarily the best advice forgregarious America.

I do love these idioms, no matter how wonderfully idiotic they sometimes sound. For example, Ei niin pahaa ettei jotain hyvääkin, which roughly translates to “not so bad that there’s nothing good in it.” In the old days these sayings might have been considered wisdoms. Today? Well, I hope they give you a good laugh. Welcome to Finland!

Om två veckor blir det fest. EU:s legendariska Romfördrag fyller 60 år. EU-ledarna samlas i Italiens huvudstad för att producera en ny deklaration unionens framtid.

Tidpunkten är viktig. Västländska värden ifrågasätts från både vänster och höger, öst och väst. Nationalism, populism och protektionism har blivit vardag. Den internationella liberalismen står på spel.

Det skulle vara lätt att vara cynisk. Helt onödigt att fira födelsedagen av en terminalt sjuk union, säger kritikerna.

Jag är av en helt annan åsikt. Romfördraget ger en möjlighet att reflektera om både EU:s förflutna och dess framtid.

Inte sexigt, men viktigt.

Europa har aldrig tidigare genomgått en längre period av relativ fred, säkerhet, stabilitet och välfärd. Utan de beslut som fattades på 1950-talet skulle detta inte ha varit möjligt.

Gemensamma institutioner och regler har hållit koll på stridslystna nationalstater. Att dela på suveränitet är en investering som har gynnat alla i gemenskapen. Europa är fortfarande världens mest framgångsrika kontinent.

EU vann kalla kriget utan att avlossa ett enda skott. Liberala demokratin och marknadsekonomin slog ut autoritära kommunismen.

Öst- och Västeuropa integrerades in i unionen utan större problem.

Freden höll, våldet undveks, med Balkan som undantag.

I Rom är det fråga om EU:s framtid. Kommissionen publicerade sina fem scenarier förra veckan:

1. Fortsätt som förut.

2. Enbart inre marknaden.

3. De som vill gör mera.

4. Gör mindre, men effektivare.

5. Gör mycket mer tillsammans.

Ett bra papper där strävan tycks vara att satsa på en kombination av scenarierna 3 och 4.

Retoriken i Rom kommer att kretsa kring scenario 3, det vill säga att villiga medlemstater kan göra mera. Inget nytt eller dramatiskt, även om det kommer att tolkas så.

Differentierad eller flexibel integration har alltid funnits och kommer alltid att finnas. I Amsterdamfördraget skrevs flexibla integrationen in i EU-fördragen. Den ger redan en möjlighet att fördjupa samarbetet utan att alla hänger med.

Grundprincipen är att allt samarbetet är alltid öppet för villiga medlemsländer.

I Rom kommer man att bekräfta att EU:s framtid är flexibel. Det är ett sätt att hålla integrationsprocessen i gång. Alla behöver inte göra allt samtidigt. Det vet speciellt Sverige som njuter av sin prilla utanför euron.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution – digitalisation, robotisation, artificial intelligence, internet of things and 3D printing – is radically changing the way in which we work. Most of the research claims that by 2030 approximately half of our current jobs will not exist anymore.

Bus drivers, market analysts, x-ray assistants, cashiers, and many others will find their jobs replaced by technology in the future. But this is nothing new – the difference is this time it’s happening faster than ever before.

Much has been written and said  about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but few people have gone into detail about what our future work might look like. That is why I was excited to discuss the issue with professor Kristiina Mäkelä of Aalto University. Our discussion was based on one of her many papers and presentations on the subject.

Mäkelä makes three points about the future of work. The first is that our good old “nine to five” world will soon cease to exist. As technology advances, the pace of life gets faster and the lines between work and free time become more blurred.

The second point is that the tradi-tional symbiosis between work and the office is becoming decoupled. Again, technology allows you to be much more flexible about your working location. Global networks emerge, and international talent is a sought-after commodity.

Her third thesis is that future careers will be much patchier than they are today. Self-employment comes to the fore. Less hierarchy, more networks. Our careers become a portfolio of gigs.

I think professor Mäkelä is spot-on. Her three points have many ramifications for all of us, not least for those who are about to enter the labour market. The days of permanent job stability are over. As a consequence, we will likely end up having multiple careers, and not necessarily in the same field.

Consequently, our understanding of education will change. Life-long learning is already on the agenda for many, and it will be even more so in the future. We have to keep re-educating ourselves to be able to stay in the game. A university degree has less value than what it used to hold.

Change is often scary. It means that we have to adapt to or influence new circumstances. One of the less scary elements of the future of work is that we end up having more free time, as technologies are often more efficient than humans.

Another consequence is that we will become more dependent on technology than the state. I consider this to be a good thing. And you never know, perhaps one day the technological developments of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will lead to algorithms that make better decisions than politicians. That means that I might have to get a new job!