International cooperation forums explained

International cooperation forums explained

Arctic Council, Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) and Northern Dimension are international cooperation forums that are in place in Arctic regions of Europe.

Each of the cooperation forums is established to serve a specific purpose in a specific geographical area. The functions and goals of each forum are different even if same countries belong to many of these. For instance, the Arctic Council does not have any mechanism for the regions. In the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, regional cooperation is a core activity.

Barents Euro-Arctic Council and Regional Council, Arctic Council and its working groups and Northern Dimension are explained more in details here. Besides them there are also other regional forums that are relevant for Barents Region, such as the Nordic Council and Nordic Council of Ministers, Council of the Baltic Sea States and the West Nordic Council. Nordic cooperation has longer roots but all the other international forums for regional cooperation were formed in the 1990´s as a reaction to the changing international situation in the region. Read more about the BEAC partners and related organizations.

There are also other regional financing and cooperation mechanisms, such as Cross-Border Cooperation programs between EU and Russia (Kolarctic and Karelia), Interreg programs and Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, supported by European Regional Development Fund and non EU partner countries.

Fact box

Barents Euro-Arctic Council

  • Members: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Denmark, Iceland and the European Commission
  • Observers: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and the USA
  • Founded in Kirkenes, 1993
  • Seeks to enhance regional co-operation in Northern Europe
  • Working groups in various fields. Some of these are joint working groups of both the Euro-Arctic and the Regional Council
  • Rotating two-years chairmanship: Russia 2015-2017 and Sweden 2017-2019 
  • International Barents Secreatariat in Kirkenes coordinates the international Barents cooperation, both on state and regional levels

Barents Regional Council

  • Seeks to promote interregional co-operation in the Barents Region. Involves administrative areas from the northern territories of four countries
  • From Finland: Kainuu, Northern Ostrobothnia and Lapland. Northern Karelia is an observer
  • From Norway: Nordland, Troms, Finnmark
  • From Sweden: Västerbotten, Norrbotten
  • From Russia: The regions of Murmansk and Archangel, the republics of Karelia and Komi, the Nenets autonomous district
  • Rotating two-years chairmanship: Kainuu (Finland) 2015-2017 and Finnmark (Norway) 2017-2019
  • Several working groups, some of them together with Barents Euro-Arctic Council

Arctic Council

  • A high-level intergovernmental forum that seeks to promote co-operation, co-ordination and interaction between Arctic states
  • Member states: Canada, the USA, Russia, Denmark (Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland
  • Permanent participants: the Athabasca (Arctic Athabascan Council), the Aleut (Aleut International Association), the Gwich’in (Gwich’in Council International), the Inuit (Inuit Circumpolar Council), the Sámi (Saami Council) and the indigenous peoples of the Russian Arctic (Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East, RAIPON)
  • Observers: seven European countries (Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom), four Asian countries (China, Japan, Korea and Singapore), nine intergovernmental organisations and eleven NGOs
  • Founded in Ottawa in 1996
  • Predecessor: Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, launched in Rovaniemi in 1991
  • A permanent secretariat began operating in Tromsø in 2013
  • Rotating two-years chairmanship (USA 2015-2017, Finland 2017-2019, Iceland 2019-2021)
  • Much of the concrete work in working groups

Northern Dimension

  • The EU, Iceland, Norway and Russia are involved in the policy of the EU’s Northern Dimension as equal partners. The USA and Canada are observer states
  • The Northern Dimension covers the geographical area from the European Arctic to the Baltic Sea
  • The Northern Dimension has launched four partnerships focusing on the environment, public health and social well-being, culture, and transport and logistics
  • Funding comes from the partner states and from EU financing instruments and programmes, international financing institutions, regional stakeholders, and the private sector
  • Finland submitted an initiative on the Northern Dimension policy of the EU in 1997. The policy was adopted by the EU in 1999 and revised in 2006

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