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The Nordic and Nordic-Baltic cooperation

The Nordic cooperation

The Nordic region should become “the world's most sustainable and integrated region in 2030”. That is the Nordic prime ministers’ vision for the Nordic cooperation. The Nordic countries have a strong cooperation, which rests on common values, and creates value for the countries and simultaneously strengthens the global position of the Nordic region.

The Nordic cooperation has led to one of the worlds’ most comprehensive and inclusive, regional collaborations, which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the Faroes Islands, Greenland, and Åland.

Historically, the Nordic cooperation commenced at grassroots’ level as an international cooperation, where The NORDEN Association (Foreningen Norden), among others, has laid the foundation for cooperation and cohesion in the Nordic countries.

The Nordic cooperation has both a formal and an informal dimension. Both dimensions include cooperation on ministerial level, among parliamentarians and on the level of civil servants.

The formal Nordic cooperation

The formal – or institutionalised – Nordic cooperation takes place both in the framework of the Nordic Council, which is the parliamentarians’ forum for cooperation, and in the framework of the Nordic Council of Ministers, which acts as the governmental forum. The Nordic cooperation includes the five Nordic countries as well as the Faroes Islands, Greenland and Åland. The judicial basis for the cooperation exists in the Helsingfors agreement, which came into force on 1 July 1962 and has ever since been revised on several occasions.

Nordic Council – the parliamentarians’ forum for cooperation

The Nordic Council was established in 1952 and consists of 87 members elected by their respective parliaments. Parliamentarians from Greenland, the Faroes Islands and Åland participate as members of the Danish and Finnish delegation. The presidium is responsible for day-to-day management and consists of a president, a vice-president and 12 additional members.

The Nordic Council’s task is to take initiatives and advise the Nordic ministers as well as to supervise the Nordic governments’ implementation of decisions regarding Nordic cooperation. The Council meets annually in plenary, where additionally governments’ representatives partake in the debates with the Council members on current Nordic topics.

Read more on the Nordic Council.

Nordic Council of Ministers – the governments’ forum for cooperation

Denmark held the presidency to the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2020. You can read about the results during the Presidency here (in Danish).

The Nordic Council of Ministers was founded in 1971. The Council represents a classic example of intergovernmental cooperation, where decisions are reached by unanimity among member states. The presidency of the Council of Ministers rotates between the five Nordic countries for one year at a time and is assisted by the Secretary General and a Secretariat, located in Copenhagen.


The task of Nordic Council of Ministers is to administer the cooperation between the Nordic governments and the steering organs of Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Åland. The Council of Ministers’ budget funds a number of projects and programmes within areas, where a clear synergy effect exists among the Nordic efforts, such as in research and innovation, culture and environmental challenges. With the vision for the Nordic Council of Ministers adopted in August 2019, the future attention will to a greater extent centre on raising the common ambitions regarding climate and sustainability.

The prime ministers have the overall responsibility for the cooperation within the Council of Ministers, but in practice, the day-to-day management is delegated to the ministers for Nordic cooperation. The ministers for Nordic cooperation meet yearly four to five times. The prime ministers have regular meetings, typically two times a year.

Additionally to prime ministers and ministers for Cooperation, the Council of Ministers contains different council formations covering ten different sectors.

You can find information and travel questions on 
InfoNorden concerning working, studying and running a company in another Nordic country. You can also contact InfoNorden if you are looking for information about Nordic funding and grants.

Informal Nordic cooperation

The informal Nordic cooperation covers mostly those sectors, where there is no formal council formation. Examples include regular meetings between the five Nordic countries on foreign policy (the so-called N5 format), defence policy, and development cooperation. The cooperation is of a comprehensive, informal, and practical nature between the embassies of the Nordic countries and missions abroad.

Nordic-Baltic cooperation

In recent years, the three Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) have become closely knit in both the formal and informal Nordic cooperation and today along the five Nordic (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), they cooperate in an informal and close manner. In the framework of this cooperation, Nordic and Baltic prime ministers and foreign ministers meet annually to discuss questions of regional interest in the so-called NB8 format