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The Finnish chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council 2013-2015
The chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council passed from Norway to Finland at the Ministerial Meeting of Tromso in October. Continuity is an important principle of the Finnish chairmanship. The successful Norwegian chairmanship has laid a good basis for further work in many sectors.
The motto of the Finnish Chairmanship is dynamic, inclusive and sustainable regional development. This means that for the well-being of the region’s inhabitants, its unique Arctic nature and traditional livelihoods as well as for tourism, it is of utmost importance that economic and industrial development take place in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner.
In economic and business cooperation Finland will focus on sustainable mining and the promotion of knowledge about clean technology in different sectors. Cooperation in the field of the Arctic maritime industry will also be enhanced.
Transport and logistics is another priority sector. Development of mining and other industries as well as trade and tourism requires well-functioning cross-border transport connections. Finland will follow up the work done by the Norwegian Chair on the Joint Barents Transport Plan. We hope to be able to reach a joint vision on the future development of the transport system in the Barents region. In this work we underline the importance of close cooperation with the Northern Dimension Transport and Logistics Partnership.
The environment and climate change are key priorities during our chairmanship. The sharing of best environmental practices, work on environmental ´hot spots´ and the protection of nature continue to be of high importance. Climate change is a major concern for the Arctic regions. Implementation of the Action Plan on Climate Change for the Barents Cooperation is therefore a focal point.
The Barents cooperation has contributed to enhancing cross-border contacts between the people living in the region. Promoting young people´s social inclusion and participation in the development of the region’s future is a key priority of the Finnish Chairmanship.
The Finnish Chairmanship also supports cooperation in sectors dealing with such issues as tourism, cultural cooperation, education, health and social well-being, and emergency and rescue cooperation.
Close cooperation and communication between the BEAC chairman, the regional actors and the people living in the Barents region, including the indigenous peoples, is of primary importance in Barents cooperation, where cooperation at the regional and local level plays such a vital role.
Special attention to strengthening coherence
During its chairmanship Finland will pay special attention to strengthening coherence between BEAC and the other regional councils - the Arctic Council, the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Nordic Council of Ministers - as well as with the Northern Dimension. Much of this work needs to be done at the working group level.
Barents cooperation is financed by different sources, including national budgets, the Nordic Council of Ministers and EU programmes such as the Kolarctic Programme. Following the call of the Barents Foreign Ministers, the Finnish chairmanship will conduct an extensive study on the possibilities for developing the financing of Barents cooperation.
The Barents cooperation is a unique and valuable tool, which connects national and regional level actors as well as the indigenous peoples in the promotion of sustainable regional development. As the chairman of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, Finland is committed to working for the development of the Barents region in close cooperation with all Barents stakeholders, with the well-being of the people as the overriding goal.
Chair of the BEAC Committee of Senior Officials
"Dynamic, inclusive and sustainable regional development"
Photo by Thomas Nilsen /