News and Updates

News and Updates 2019

XVII Foreign Ministers’ Session of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council


XVII Ministerial meeting officially marked the end of the Swedish Chairmanship in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC).  Foreign ministers’ delegations of the member and observer states, chairs of BEAC’s working groups together with representatives from the Barents Regional Council and participants from non- and intergovernmental organizations gathered together in Umeå on October 3 to discuss the outcomes of the Swedish Chairmanship 2017-2019 and welcome Norway as a new BEAC Chair for 2019-2021.

Participants of the Barents Ministerial meeting in Umeå, 3 October 2019
Photo: Norwegian Barents Secretariat

The meeting marked the unanimous adoption of the Declaration, which emphasized the “human, social, environmental and economic capital of the Barents region”, envisaged enhanced youth engagement and implementation of the Barents Action Plan on Climate Change. "The Council emphsized the importance of raising further awareness and visbility of the Barents cooperation, and stressed the need to increase focus on synergies between multilateral cooperation formats in the North". It also highlighted the significant role of the Barents Regional Council and its ambitious regional programme 2019-2023.

Barents Regional Council Meeting

Barents Regional Council (BRC) convened in Umeå prior to the Ministerial meeting on October 2, marking the transition of the Chairmanship from Finnmark County, Norway, to Västerbotten, Sweden. 

BRC Umea 19.JPG
Barents Regional Council family photo, 2 October 2019

The central and the most significant part of the BRC’s proposals to the foreign ministers was devoted to establishing a financial support mechanism for BEAC Working Groups. “The council reiterates its statement from June 2013, and asks the Barents Euro-Arctic Council to consider a national funding for low-threshold project applications from the Working Groups. Such a mechanism would ensure operationalization and continuity of the co-operation in all sectors where it has been established”, it states in its Joint Statement.

“It is an interesting proposal,” says Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide in her interview to the International Barents Secretariat. “We will suggest that the Committee of Senior Officials should look further into the details in order to identify possible ways of managing this mechanism.” 

Sweden Passed the Chaimanship to Norway

During the Swedish Chairmanship 2017-2019, activities were guided by four priority areas: environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development, together with stronger and more visible Barents cooperation. 

Among the highlights of the chairmanship was the endorsement of Youth Recommendations  at the Ministerial meeting in Umeå, paving the way to a more in-depth involvement of the Barents youth in the regional cooperation. 

See the full Summary of the priorities and achievements of the Swedish BEAC Chairmanship.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde handing over the BEAC gavel to her Norwegian counterpart Ine Eriksen Søreide
Photo: Norwegian Barents Secretariat

As a new BEAC chair, Norway aims to focus on health, people-to-people contacts and knowledge, with a view to building a stronger and more resilient Barents region. Among its first events as BEAC chair, Norway will be hosting Barents Ministerial Meeting on Health and Social Issues in Oslo on November 12, 2019.

Special attention in the upcoming years will be paid to close collaboration with Västerbotten as a chair of the BRC and other regions to “ensure the best possible basis for further development of the Barents cooperation”.

Read the full interview with the Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

See the official brochure of the Norwegian BEAC Chairmanship 2019-2021.

II Barents Scholarship for Cultural Cooperation Award

At the Barents Scholarship Award ceremony, 3 October 2019
Photo: Norwegian Barents Secretariat


Along with the XVII Foreign Ministers’ Session, II Barents Scholarship for Cultural Cooperation was awarded in Umeå on October 3. The scholarship recipients are:

  • Cultural magazine Kaltio (Oulu, Finland)
  • Saxophonist Ola Asdahl Rokkones (Tromsø, Norway)
  • Curator of the Taibola Festival Ilia Kuzubov (Russian Federation)
  • Embroidery group FIMBRIA (Sweden)

See the Press release of the BEAC’s Joint Working Group on Culture.

See the Flyer with more information about the recipients of the scholarship, prepared by the Joint Working Group on Culture.

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