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Happy anniversary, Nordic countries!

The Helsinki Treaty – the foundation of Nordic cooperation – was signed 55 years ago. This anniversary is being celebrated with events and flags flying throughout the region. ‘Strategic Nordic cooperation is absolutely essential,’ said Frank Bakke-Jensen, Minister of EEA and EU Affairs and Minister for Nordic Cooperation, who is celebrating the occasion in Trondheim.

The Helsinki Treaty, which was signed on 23 March 1962, laid the foundation for official Nordic cooperation. The treaty regulates what is currently one of the world’s oldest and most comprehensive regional partnerships. Under the treaty, citizens of all the Nordic countries are to be treated equally – not least when legislation is being developed. 

‘Europe is experiencing a time of change and is constantly facing new global challenges. I consider Nordic cooperation to be particularly important because we share core values that are coming under pressure. A strong, united Nordic region is well equipped to meet the challenges of today and of the future,’ said Mr Bakke-Jensen. 

This year, Norway has the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, and has identified climate change, the green shift and digitisation as key priorities for Nordic cooperation in 2017.

‘Our achievements here in the Nordic countries do not go unnoticed in the rest of the world. We rank at the top of most of the indexes that measure societies’ health. But the world is changing. This presents challenges for the Nordic countries (…) In this situation, we Nordic neighbours need one another. There are a number of sectors where we could be more efficient if we work together, such as health services, digitisation and energy. On this anniversary, my message is simple: this is not the time to take our relationship as neighbours for granted. It is time to expand and further develop our close cooperation. This is the era of the Nordic region,’ Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers Dagfinn Høybråten wrote in his blog (in Norwegian only).

Norwegian Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers

Norway assumed the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers on 1 January 2017. The programme for the Norwegian Presidency in 2017 has three main pillars: the Nordic region in transition, the Nordic region in Europe and the Nordic region in the world.

  • Under the pillar the Nordic region in transition, we will promote Nordic competitiveness, the transition to a green, low-carbon economy, integration, and health cooperation in the Nordic region.
  • Under the pillar the Nordic region in Europe, we will strengthen our cooperation on European policy. A strong Nordic voice in the European debate is good for the region and good for Europe.
  • Under the pillar the Nordic region in the world, we will further develop our strategic partnership in the field of foreign policy.

Nine different projects have been launched under the Norwegian Presidency, including projects on plastic waste and the marine environment, health and antibiotic resistance, and integration. All nine projects are presented here (in Norwegian only).