Member states and regions of the Nordic Council (blue).
• President of the Nordic Council
• Vice-President of the Nordic Council
• Nordic Council inaugurated
|12 February 1953|
|1 July 1962|
• Nordic Council of Ministers and Secretariat inaugurated
• 2018 estimate
|Part of a series on|
The Nordic Council is the official body for formal inter-parliamentary Nordic cooperation among the Nordic countries. Formed in 1952, it has 87 representatives from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as well as from the autonomous areas of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Åland Islands. The representatives are members of parliament in their respective countries or areas and are elected by those parliaments. The Council holds ordinary sessions each year in October/November and usually one extra session per year with a specific theme.The Council's official languages are Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish, though it uses only Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish as its working languages. These three comprise the first language of around 80% of the region's population and are learned as a second or foreign language by the remaining 20%.
In 1971, the Nordic Council of Ministers, an intergovernmental forum, was established to complement the Council. The Council and the Council of Ministers are involved in various forms of cooperation with neighbouring areas, amongst them being the Baltic Assembly and the Benelux,as well as Russia and Schleswig-Holstein.
During World War II, Denmark and Norway were occupied by Germany; Finland was under assault by the Soviet Union; while Sweden, though neutral, still felt the war's effects. Following the war, the Nordic countries pursued the idea of a Scandinavian defence union to ensure their mutual defence. However, Finland, due to its Paasikivi-Kekkonen policy of neutrality and FCMA treaty with the USSR, could not participate.
It was proposed that the Nordic countries would unify their foreign policy and defence, remain neutral in the event of a conflict and not ally with NATO, which some were planning at the time. The United States, keen on getting access to bases in Scandinavia and believing the Nordic countries incapable of defending themselves, stated it would not ensure military support for Scandinavia if they did not join NATO. As Denmark and Norway sought US aid for their post-war reconstruction, the project collapsed, with Denmark, Norway and Iceland joining NATO.
Further Nordic co-operation, such as an economic customs union, also failed. This led Danish Prime Minister Hans Hedtoft to propose, in 1951, a consultative inter-parliamentary body. This proposal was agreed by Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden in 1952.The Council's first session was held in the Danish Parliament on 13 February 1953 and it elected Hans Hedtoft as its president. When Finnish-Soviet relations thawed following the death of Joseph Stalin, Finland joined the council in 1955.
On 2 July 1954, the Nordic labour market was created and in 1958, building upon a 1952 passport-free travel area, the Nordic Passport Union was created. These two measures helped ensure Nordic citizens' free movement around the area. A Nordic Convention on Social Security was implemented in 1955. There were also plans for a single market but they were abandoned in 1959 shortly before Denmark, Norway, and Sweden joined the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). Finland became an associated member of EFTA in 1961 and Denmark and Norway applied to join the European Economic Community (EEC).
This move towards the EEC led to desire for a formal Nordic treaty. The Helsinki Treaty outlined the workings of the Council and came into force on 24 March 1962. Further advancements on Nordic cooperation were made in the following years: a Nordic School of Public Health, a Nordic Cultural Fund, and Nordic House in Reykjavík were created. Danish Prime Minister Hilmar Baunsgaard proposed full economic cooperation ("Nordek") in 1968. Nordek was agreed in 1970, but Finland then backtracked, stating that its ties with the Soviet Union meant it could not form close economic ties with potential members of the EEC (Denmark and Norway).Nordek was then abandoned.
As a consequence, Denmark and Norway applied to join the EEC and the Nordic Council of Ministers was set up in 1971 to ensure continued Nordic cooperation.In 1970 representatives of the Faroe Islands and Åland were allowed to take part in the Nordic Council as part of the Danish and Finnish delegations. Norway turned down EEC membership in 1972 while Denmark acted as a bridge builder between the EEC and the Nordics. Also in 1973, although it did not opt for full membership of the EEC, Finland negotiated a free trade treaty with the EEC that in practice removed customs duties from 1977 on, although there were transition periods up to 1985 for some products. Sweden did not apply due to its non-alliance policy, which was aimed at preserving neutrality. Greenland subsequently left the EEC and has since sought a more active role in circumpolar affairs.
In the 1970s, the Nordic Council founded the Nordic Industrial Fund, Nordtest and the Nordic Investment Bank. The Council's remit was also expanded to include environmental protection and, in order to clean up the pollution in the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic, a joint energy network was established. The Nordic Science Policy Council was set up in 1983and, in 1984, representatives from Greenland were allowed to join the Danish delegation.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Nordic Council began to cooperate more with the Baltic states and new Baltic Sea organisations. Sweden and Finland joined the European Union (EU), the EEC's successor, in 1995. Norway had also applied, but once again voted against membership.However, Norway and Iceland did join the European Economic Area (EEA) which integrated them economically with the EU. The Nordic Passport Union was also subsumed into the EU's Schengen Area in 1996.
The Nordic Council became more outward-looking, to the Arctic, Baltic, Europe, and Canada. The Øresund Bridge linking Sweden and Denmark led to a large amount of cross-border travel, which in turn led to further efforts to reduce barriers.However, the initially envisioned tasks and functions of the Nordic Council have become partially dormant due to the significant overlap with the EU and EEA. In 2008 Iceland began EU membership talks, but decided to annul these in 2015.
The Nordic Council consists of 87 representatives, elected from its members' parliaments and reflecting the relative representation of the political parties in those parliaments. It holds its main session in the autumn, while a so-called "theme session" is arranged in the spring. Each of the national delegations has its own secretariat in the national parliament. The autonomous territories –Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Åland –also have Nordic secretariats.
The Council does not have any formal power on its own, but each government has to implement any decisions through its national legislature. With Denmark, Norway, and Iceland being members of NATO and Finland and Sweden being neutral, the Nordic Council has not been involved in any military cooperation.
The original Nordic Council concentrates on inter-parliamentary cooperation. The Nordic Council of Ministers, founded in 1971, is responsible for inter-governmental cooperation. Prime Ministers have ultimate responsibility but this is usually delegated to the Minister for Nordic Cooperation and the Nordic Committee for Co-operation, which co-ordinates the day-to-day work. The autonomous territories have the same representation as states.The Nordic Council of Ministers has offices in the Baltic countries.
The Nordic Council uses the three Continental Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish) as its official working languages, while interpretation and translation service is arranged for Finnish and Icelandic (but never between the Scandinavian languages).The Council also publishes material in English for information purposes. The Council refers to Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish collectively as Scandinavian and considers them to be different forms of the same language forming a common language community. Since 1987, under the Nordic Language Convention, citizens of the Nordic countries have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries without being liable to any interpretation or translation costs. The Convention covers visits to hospitals, job centres, the police, and social security offices. The languages included are Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish.
On 31 October 2018, the Council established it has five official languages, giving Finnish and Icelandic equal status with Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish from 1 January 2020 onward. While the working languages of the Council's secretariat remain the three Scandinavian languages, the Council emphasised that the secretariat must include personnel with comprehensive understanding of Finnish and Icelandic as well. The then-President of the Council Michael Tetzschner thought the compromise good but also expressed concern over the change's expenses and hoped they would not increase so much that there be pressure to switch over to using English.
The Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers have a particular focus on strengthening the Nordic language community; the main focus of their work to promote language understanding in the Nordic countries is on children and young people's understanding of written and oral Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, the three mutually intelligible Scandinavian languages.
The Nordic Council and the Council of Ministers have their headquarters in Copenhagen and various installations in each separate country, as well as many offices in neighbouring countries. The headquarters are located at Ved Stranden No. 18, close to Slotsholmen.
The Nordic Council has 8 members or associate members, 5 sovereign states and 3 self-governing regions.
|Country name||Arms||Flag||Membership||Parliament||Membership status||Represented since||Members||EFTA/EU/EEA relation||NATO relation|
|Finland||full||Eduskunta (Riksdagen)||sovereign state||1955||20|
|Faroe Islands||associate||Løgting||self-governing region of Denmark||1970||2 out of Denmark's 20||minimal|
|Greenland||associate||Inatsisartut||self-governing region of Denmark||1984||2 out of Denmark's 20||OCT|
|Åland||associate||Lagting||self-governing region of Finland||1970||2 out of Finland's 20||demilitarized zone|
In accordance with § 13 of the Rules of Procedure for the Nordic Council the Sámi Parliamentary Council is the only institution with observer status with the Nordic Council. In accordance with § 14, the Nordic Youth Council has the status of "guest" on a permanent basis, and the Presidium "may invite representatives of popularly elected bodies and other persons to a session and grant them speaking rights" as guests.According to the council, "within the last couple of years, guests from other international and Nordic organisations have been able to take part in the debates at the Sessions. Visitors from the Baltic States and Northwest Russia are those who mostly take up this opportunity. Guests who have a connection to the theme under discussion are invited to the Theme Session."
Baltic states have permanent observer status in Nordic Council organization. [ citation needed ] Thus Nordic Council has the biggest co-operation with Baltic states and hold regular Nord - Balt prime minister summits. Baltic states see their co-operation with Nordic Council as of strategic importance and its being the primary political organizational framework within the Nord - Balt region.[ citation needed ]
The Nordic Council of Ministers has established four Offices outside the Nordic Region: In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.The offices form part of the secretariat of the Nordic Council of Ministers; according to the Council of Ministers their primary mission is to promote cooperation between the Nordic countries and the Baltic states and to promote the Nordic countries in cooperation with their embassies within the Baltic states.
The Nordic Council and the Council of Ministers also define Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia as "Adjacent Areas" and has formal cooperation with them under the Adjacent Areas policies framework; in recent years the cooperation has focused increasingly on Russia.
The Nordic Council had historically been a strong supporter of Baltic independence from the Soviet Union. During the move towards independence in the Baltic States in 1991, Denmark and Iceland pressed for the Observer Status in the Nordic Council for the then-nonsovereign Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The move in 1991 was opposed by Norway and Finland. The move was heavily opposed by the Soviet Union, accusing the Nordic Council of getting involved in its internal affairs.In the same year, the Nordic Council refused to give observer status for the three, at the time nonsovereign, Baltic states.
While the Nordic Council rejected the Baltic states' application for formal observer status, the council nevertheless has extensive cooperation on different levels with all neighbouring countries, including the Baltic states and Germany, especially the state of Schleswig-Holstein. Representatives of Schleswig-Holstein were present as informal guests during a session for the first time in 2016. The state has historical ties to Denmark and cross-border cooperation with Denmark and has a Danish minority population.As parliamentary representatives from Schleswig-Holstein, a member of the South Schleswig Voter Federation and a member of the Social Democrats with ties to the Danish minority were elected.
The Sámi political structures long desired formal representation in the Nordic Council's structures, and were eventually granted observer status through the Sámi Parliamentary Council. In addition, representatives of the Sámi people are de facto included in activities touching upon their interests. In addition, the Faroe Islands have expressed their wishes for full membership in the Nordic Council instead of the current associate membership.
Three of the members of the Nordic Council (Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, all EU-member states), the Baltic Assembly, and the Benelux sought intensifying cooperation in the Digital Single Market, as well as discussing social matters, the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, the European migrant crisis and defense cooperation. Relations with Russia, Turkey and the United Kingdom were also on the agenda.
Some desire the Nordic Council's promotion of Nordic cooperation to go much further than at present. If the states of Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland were to merge in such an integration as some desire, it would command a gross domestic product of US$1.60 trillion, making it the twelfth largest economy in the world, larger than that of Australia, Spain, Mexico, or South Korea. Gunnar Wetterberg, a Swedish historian and economist, wrote a book entered into the Nordic Council's year book that proposes the creation of a Nordic Federation from the Council in a few decades.
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The organization operates in parallel with the European Union (EU), and all four member states participate in the European Single Market and are part of the Schengen Area. They are not, however, party to the European Union Customs Union.
Scandinavia is a subregion in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. The term Scandinavia in local usage covers the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The majority national languages of these three belong to the Scandinavian dialect continuum, and are mutually intelligible North Germanic languages.
The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also referred to as the "Nordic languages", a direct translation of the most common term used among Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish scholars and laypeople.
Northern Europe is a loosely defined geographical region in Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54°N, or may be based on other geographical factors such as climate and ecology. A broader definition would include the area of Europe north of the Alps.
Nordic folk music includes a number of traditions in Northern European, especially Scandinavian, countries. The Nordic countries are Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
The Scandinavian defence union was a failed plan to establish a military alliance between Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark after the end of World War II. Finland had fought two wars against the Soviet Union, Denmark and Norway had been occupied by Germany between 1940 and 1945, and Sweden, having been a neutral state throughout the war, had still felt the effects on either side. The four governments agreed that integration in the area of defence was needed, although specific arrangements and the nature of a defence union would be subject to later negotiations.
Europe is often divided into regions based on geographical, cultural or historical criteria. Many European structures currently exist, some are cultural, economic, or political; examples include the Council of Europe, the European Broadcasting Union with the Eurovision Song Contest, and the European Olympic Committees with the European Games. Several transcontinental countries which border mainland Europe, are often included as belonging to a "wider Europe" including, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Greenland, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, as well as the overseas territories and regions of the European Union.
SAMAK, or the Joint Committee of the Nordic Social Democratic Labour Movement, assembles the social democratic parties and labour councils in the Nordic countries. SAMAK consists of all social democratic parties and trade union organisations in the Nordic countries, including in Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland. The President of the committee is Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Prime Minister of Denmark and chairman of the Danish Social Democrats. Inger Segelström is the General Secretary.
Scandinavism, also called Scandinavianism or pan-Scandinavianism, is an ideology that supports various degrees of cooperation among the Scandinavian countries. Scandinavism comprises the literary, linguistic and cultural movement that focuses on promoting a shared Scandinavian past, a shared cultural heritage, a common Scandinavian mythology and a common language or dialect continuum, and which led to the formation of joint periodicals and societies in support of Scandinavian literature and languages. Nordism expands the scope to include Iceland and Finland.
The Nordic cross flag is any one of several flags bearing the design of the Nordic or Scandinavian cross, a cross symbol in a rectangular field, with the center of the cross shifted towards the hoist.
The Nordic Passport Union allows citizens of the Nordic countries – Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland – to travel and reside in another Nordic country without any travel documentation or a residence permit. Since 25 March 2001, all five states have also been within the Schengen Area. The Faroe Islands are part of the Nordic Passport Union but not the Schengen Area, while Greenland and Svalbard are outside both. However, Greenland has an open border with all Nordic countries, and allows Nordic citizens to enter, settle and work without requiring a passport or permits. Svalbard allows Nordic citizens to settle and work without permits, as a result of the Svalbard Treaty, however with the exception of Norwegian citizens, valid travel documentation is required to enter Svalbard. Furthermore, as citizens of a Nordic country, those from Svalbard and Greenland are permitted to reside in any other Nordic country.
Nordek was the name of a planned organisation for Nordic economic cooperation similar to the European Economic Community EEC, based on a proposal in 1968 by Danish Prime Minister Hilmar Baunsgaard. A treaty was negotiated to establish the new organisation, to be headquartered in Malmö, Sweden. Ultimately it was the case that Finland did not ratify the treaty due to its relationship with the Soviet Union. Then Denmark joined EEC and Sweden, Norway, Iceland signed a bilateral free trade treaty with the EEC.
Denmark–Norway relations are foreign relations between Denmark and Norway. The countries have a very long history together: they were both part of the Kalmar Union between 1397 and 1523, and Norway was in a Union with Denmark between 1524 and 1814.
The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic, where they are most commonly known as Norden. The term includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, as well as the Faroe Islands and Greenland, which are both part of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Åland Islands is a part of the Republic of Finland; Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard, which belong to the Kingdom of Norway, are also included. Bouvet Island is sometimes not considered a part of the Nordic countries due to its geographical location. Several regions in Europe such as the Northern Isles of Scotland share cultural or ethnic ties with the Nordic nations, but are not considered to be part of the Nordic countries. Scandinavians, who comprise over three quarters of the region's population, are the largest group, followed by Finns, who comprise the majority in Finland; other ethnic groups are the Greenlandic Inuit, the Sámi people, and recent immigrants and their descendants. The native languages Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese are all North Germanic languages rooted in Old Norse. Native non-Germanic languages are Finnish, Greenlandic languages and several Sámi languages. The main religion is Lutheran Christianity.
The 1995 enlargement of the European Union saw Austria, Finland, and Sweden accede to the European Union (EU). This was the EU's fourth enlargement and came into effect on 1 January of that year. All these states were previous members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and had traditionally been less interested in joining the EU than other European countries. Norway had negotiated to join alongside the other three but following the signing of the treaty, membership was turned down by the Norwegian electorate in the 1994 national referendum. Switzerland also applied for membership on 26 May 1992, but withdrew it after a negative referendum result on 6 December 1992.
Arctic cooperation and politics are partially coordinated via the Arctic Council, composed of the eight Arctic nations: the United States of America, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Denmark with Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The dominant governmental power in Arctic policy resides within the executive offices, legislative bodies, and implementing agencies of the eight Arctic nations, and to a lesser extent other nations, such as United Kingdom, Germany, European Union and China. NGOs and academia play a large part in Arctic policy. Also important are intergovernmental bodies such as the United Nations and NATO.
The EU has three goals in its arctic policy:
Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8) is a regional co-operation format that includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden. Under NB8, regular meetings are held of the Baltic and Nordic countries' Prime Ministers, Speakers of Parliaments, Foreign Ministers, branch ministers, Secretaries of State and political directors of Foreign Ministries, as well as expert consultations where regional issues and current international topics are reviewed.
The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) was established in 1991 as a forum for political dialogue between parliamentarians from the Baltic Sea Region. BSPC aims at raising awareness and opinion on issues of current political interest and relevance for the Baltic Sea Region. It promotes and drives various initiatives and efforts to support a sustainable environmental, social and economic development of the Baltic Sea Region. It strives at enhancing the visibility of the Baltic Sea Region and its issues in a wider European context.