Cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region
Cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region was launched in 1993 on two levels: intergovernmental Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) and interregional Barents Regional Council (BRC). The overall objective of Barents cooperation has been sustainable development.
During the Cold War the Barents region
was an area of military confrontation. The
underlying premise was that close cooperation secures poltical long-term
stability and reduces possible tensions. This objective has already
been successfully achieved. The Barents cooperation has fostered a new
sense of unity and closer contact among the people of the region which
is an excellent basis for further progress.
Cooperation on governmental and regional level
The members of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council
are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the European
Commission. The chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council rotates between
Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Russia holds the chairmanship for
the period 2015-2017.
Fourteen counties or similar sub-national entities form the Barents Regional Council. Kainuu, Finland, is the chair of the BRC for the period 2015-2017.
The two councils have established thematic Working Groups, both independently and jointly. The Working Groups constitute a cross-border platform for exchange for the civil servants and professionals of the respective field. Over the past years, the Working Groups have also implemented several projects.
The representatives of the three indigenous peoples, the Sámi, the Nenets and the Vepsians, cooperate in the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples
(WGIP). It has an advisory role in both the BEAC and the BRC which
means that their participation is welcome in all Barents Working Groups,
that the WGIP Chair is a member of the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) and the Barents Regional Committee,
and that they are always represented at the BEAC Ministerial Sessions
and the Barents Regional Council meetings. All three indigenous peoples of the Barents Region can
participate individually in the CSO meetings, without a formal invitation.
In 2008, International Barents Secretariat was established in Kirkenes. The secretariat supports the multilateral activities within the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and Barents Regional Council and secures the coherence and efficiency of the cooperation.
Where appropriate, there is also coordination with the
relevant activities of the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Arctic Council and the Northern Dimension.