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The number of pan-Nordic institutions increases.

In 1972, the Nordic Council of Ministers took the decision to set up a Secretariat in Oslo. It started work the following year.

The Culture Secretariat was based in Copenhagen, however. Cultural co-operation was one of the original main areas of Nordic co-operation, and used to be organised by a Nordic Cultural Commission.

On 25 September 1972, a majority in Norway voted against EEC membership. A large majority in Denmark voted in favour of membership on 2 October 1972.

However, the Nordic Council of Ministers had been set up precisely to cope with scenarios in which Nordic co-operation had to be maintained despite differences of opinion on European co-operation.

Denmark did, however, work consciously to act as bridge builder by passing on information from the EEC to the others Nordic countries.

A number of Nordic institutions were founded in 1973, e.g. the Nordic Industrial Fund and Nordtest, which was subsequently merged to form part of the Oslo-based Nordic Innovation.

The Helsinki Treaty was revised again in 1974 in order to extend formal co-operation to include environmental protection, which had become a key issue around that time. The pollution of the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic has subsequently been high on the Nordic agenda.

In early 1975, the Nordic prime ministers decided to establish the Nordic Investment Bank.

The proposal had previously been put forward, but had been made topical again by the oil crisis, which had destabilised the Nordic economies.

Over the years, the Nordic Investment Bank has built up bigger annual profits than the total annual expenses of the Nordic Council and Council of Ministers.

However, they have separate budgets, and in recent years, the Nordic Investment Bank has, now with the participation of the three Baltic countries, has been formally independent of the Council of Ministers.

In a figurative sense it could however be claimed that Nordic co-operation is a profitable business.

The former Danish Prime Minister Anker Jørgensen wrote in his diary on 13 May 1980 about a Nordic meeting of ministers in Hamar, Norway:

”10:00 joint meeting of prime ministers and energy ministers. Only lasted an hour. We quickly agreed on a joint plan for expansion of Nordic energy co-operation. Problems will not arise until a tangible decision has to be taken."

In this instance, one of the tangible problems was whether Norway would allow a gas pipeline to be laid down to Denmark.

Nothing came of it, but in general the Nordic countries have tried to find pragmatic solutions, e.g. with the joint electricity power network between the Nordic countries.

Major disagreements have arisen about forms of energy, with only Sweden and Finland opting for nuclear power, but the Nordic ministers have still found solutions to the cross-border electricity network.

In 1983, the Nordic Science Policy Council commenced its activities. These days, Oslo-based NordForsk is responsible for improving joint Nordic research.

The Nordic House in Tórshavn on the Faroe Islands was finally completed in 1983.

In 1985 and 1987 similar institutions were inaugurated in Åland and in Greenland, where it was named the Nordic Institute. The Nordic Council of Ministers was responsible for Kulturhuset/Katuaq in Nuuk (Godthåb), which opened in 1997.

Since 1986, the Nordic Council of Ministers' Secretariat has been a single unit based in Copenhagen, where the Cultural Secretariat had already been located since 1972.


Marita Hoydal
Phone: 0045 29692915