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After 1989

The Nordic Region finds its place in the new world order after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 fundamentally changed the political map throughout the world, including Northern Europe. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Even prior to their independence, the Baltic nations had been contacted by the Nordic countries to discuss setting up Nordic Council of Ministers' information offices there.

The offices in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius were up and running as early as summer 1991.

In 1992, the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) was set up by the 11 countries around the Baltic Sea. In 1993, the Barents Council was created, followed in 1996 by the Arctic Council.

The Nordic Council of Ministers has built up close co-operation with these bodies.

In 1994, referenda on membership of the EU were held in Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Finland and Sweden voted to join, but, for the second time, the majortiy of Norwegians voted against.

Sweden and Finland, along with Austria, became members of the EU from 1 January 1995. For some time, it is probably true to say that politicians and civil servants in Finland and Sweden were focused more on the EU than the Nordic Region.

Nordic co-operation became increasingly outward-looking, especially in the Baltic Sea Region. The major upheavals in 1989-1991 had removed earlier caution about involvement outside the Nordic countries.

The close focus on the Baltic Sea Region has at times taken the focus away from the West Nordic Region. To the west, however, there has also been contact with neighbouring countries such as Canada and the British Isles.

In 1995, it was decided to set up a Nordic information office in St Petersburg. Smaller InfoPoints followed in Murmansk, Archangel and Petrozavodsk, as well as a Nordic information office in Kaliningrad in 2006.

In 1996, the Nordic Council Secretariat moved from Stockholm to Copenhagen, where it shared an address with the Nordic Council of Ministers' Secretariat at Store Strandstræde 18, next to Kongens Nytorv and Nyhavn.

In summer 2000, the Øresund Bridge opened, connecting Denmark and Sverige. After a hesitant start, the development of the Øresund Region soon gathered pace.

Many people from Skåne found jobs on the Danish side of the Sound, and many Danes found homes in Malmö. This development led to renewed efforts to remove obstacles to cross-border freedom of movement, not just in that area but throughout the Nordic Region.

At the EU Summit in Copenhagen in December 2002, it was decided to allow a number of countries in Central Europe to join.

On 1 May 2004, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland joined the enlarged EU, along with other Central European countries.

The whole of the Baltic Sea Region – with the exception of the Russian areas around St Petersburg and Kaliningrad – is now part of the EU.

The Nordic Council of Ministers has developed contacts with all of the countries in the Baltic Sea Region.

In 2005, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also joined the Nordic Investment Bank on equal terms with the five Nordic nations.

At their meeting in Finland in June 2007, the Nordic prime ministers decided the countries should work more closely together to face the challenges posed by globalisation. This has led to a renewed focus on the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Future events may necessitate closer Nordic co-operation, especially, perhaps, in an extended form that includes the countries in the Baltic Sea Region.

It is probable that an enlarged EU will remain the main arena for European co-operation. So far, however, there have been greater opportunities for regional co-operation around the Baltic Sea, precisely because the EU has become so big after its previous enlargements.

In July 2010 the Nordic Council of Ministers' Secretariat, the Nordic Council's Secretariat and the Nordic Culture Fund moved into new offices in the centre of Copenhagen at Ved Stranden 18, overlooking Christiansborg.


Marita Hoydal
Phone: 29692915