Nordic Council of Ministers
The Nordic Council of Ministers is an official cooperation body of the Nordic governments established in 1971. The rotating Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers will be held by Finland in 2021.
Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland have been members of the Nordic Council of Ministers since 1971. The status of Åland, the Faeroe Islands and Greenland has also been strengthened, and they currently have equal representation with the listed countries.
The Nordic Council of Ministers consists of several ministerial councils, one of which is the Nordic Council of Ministers for Digitalisation, MR-Digital. In addition to the Nordic countries, the Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania participate in MR-Digital’s work. The Nordic Ministers for Finance also have their own set-up, MR-Finans, which discusses economic questions, including taxation, customs and financial market issues.
The shared vision of the Nordic Prime Ministers is that the Nordic region will become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. To achieve this objective, three key priority areas have been identified:
- A green Nordic Region
- A competitive Nordic Region
- A socially sustainable Nordic Region.
Digitalisation is the cross-cutting theme of the vision and priority areas. The Councils of Ministers are committed to promoting objectives and measures which are in line with the vision in their work.
Finland’s Presidency 2021
Finland will hold the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2021. A Presidency programme has been prepared for 2021, which supports the goals of Our Vision 2030. In addition to the priority areas of the vision, the programme highlights international cooperation and especially partnership with the Baltic countries as well as the significance of the Arctic Region. In addition to sustainability and integration, its cross-cutting themes are equality as well as children and young people. The priorities related to digitalisation are set down in the section titled A competitive Nordic Region.
The priority area A competitive Nordic Region is divided into four sub-themes:
- Green growth and economic recovery: competence, innovations, mobility and digital integration
- New ways of working, learning and developing
- Promoting mobility, removing border obstacles
- International marketing/showcasing of sustainable Nordic solutions.
Integration and a competitive Nordic Region are promoted through the presidency project launched by the Finnish Ministry of Finance titled The world’s smoothest cross-border mobility and daily life through digitalisation.
Pohjoismaat, yhdessä (programme in Finnish)
Other Nordic cooperation
The Ministry of Finance also engages in Nordic cooperation through other organisation structures and directly with specialists in different countries. For example, this cooperation between the Nordic countries takes the form of collaboration in the Council of Europe’s working groups as well as in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.
The Nordic ministers responsible for local government issues hold a yearly meeting at which they discuss topical municipal policy issues and exchange information. Their information exchanges about legislative and development projects relevant to municipalities and regions are regular. The next meeting of the Nordic Ministers of Local Government will be held in Sweden in August 2021.
A report titled ‘Cross-border cooperation between Finland and Norway, and its obstacles’ commissioned by the Ministry of Finance was completed in February 2020. Its purpose was to investigate cooperation between the authorities in healthcare and social welfare services, rescue services and education as well as the availability and usability of services in these sectors, and to examine the operating conditions for labour mobility and business operations in the border regions of Finland and Norway.
Cooperation between Nordic governance policy actors also has long traditions. So-called RAKO cooperation between the Nordic countries was launched decades ago. This meant that the countries took turns organising a major seminar and also handled the other presidency tasks for a year at a time.
As EU cooperation on governance policy (in which Norway also participates) increased, the seminars were discontinued. The cooperation went on under the new name of the Nordic Governance Policy Forum, which took the form of events known as meetings of heads.
These meetings continue to be organised by each country in turn. While their themes are jointly selected, exchanges of current information also play a large role at the meetings. In recent years the meeting themes have included leadership, procurement, ethics and trust. In Finland, this work is coordinated by the Public Governance Department.
Government employers also engage in Nordic cooperation through regular annual meetings and similar.
These meetings are joint conferences at which each country presents their topical and key issues to the representatives of the other Nordic countries. Examples of the issues discussed are economic reviews of the countries, labour market talks, measures necessitated by the coronavirus epidemic, the health, social services and regional government reform as well as the working groups aiming to promote employment referred to in the Government Programme.
Digitalisation cooperation: Katja Väänänen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 530 245, katja.vaananen(at)vm.fi
Economic and financial cooperation: Minna Aaltonen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 530 325, minna.aaltonen(at)vm.fi
Local government cooperation: Suvi Savolainen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2955 30012, suvi.savolainen(at)vm.fi
Governance policy cooperation: Katju Holkeri, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Head of Unit, tel. + 358 295 530 087, katju.holkeri(at)vm.fi
Employer cooperation: Jouko Hämäläinen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. + 358 295 530 486, jouko.hamalainen(at)vm.fi