The Nordic Council of Ministers was founded in 1971 and, despite its name, actually consists of several individual councils of ministers. Nordic ministers for specific policy areas meet in their respective council of ministers a couple of times a year. There are currently 10 constellations of councils of ministers for specific policy areas as well as the council of ministers for the ministers for co-operation. Decisions in all of the councils of ministers must be unanimous.
The Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, which is held for a period of one year, rotates between the five Nordic countries. The country holding the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers draws up a programme to guide Nordic co-operation during the year.
Matters are prepared and followed up by the various committees of senior officials, which consist of civil servants from the member countries.
Nordic prime ministers hold annual meetings as well as meetings in preparation for events such as EU summits. Nordic ministers for defence and foreign affairs also meet regularly outside of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Member countries and territories
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have been members of the Nordic Council of Ministers since 1971. In addition, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland have also had increased representation and more prominent roles in the Nordic Council of Ministers, with the same representation as the other member countries.
Each country has one vote in the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Nordic Council of Ministers consists of one or more members of each country’s government. Consequently, the Nordic Council of Ministers can be made up of the ministers for co-operation, the ministers for specific policy areas, or a combination of both. Representatives of the regional governments of the Faroe Islands and Greenland, as well as the provincial government of Åland also contribute to the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
The Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland can choose to adopt the decisions made in the Nordic Council of Ministers as permitted by their agreements on autonomy.
The Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland have been given a greater influence in Nordic co-operation since the adoption of the Åland Document by the ministers for co-operation in Mariehamn, Åland, on 5 September 2007. The Åland Document is a report on initiatives that can bolster the participation of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland in Nordic co-operation.
Rules of procedure and regulatory documents for the Nordic Council of Ministers
The rules of procedure for the Nordic Council of Ministers are published on these pages.
The basis for the rules of procedure and other regulatory documents is the Helsinki Treaty, which was signed in Helsinki in 1962. The Helsinki Treaty is the fundamental co-operation agreement for Nordic Co-operation (sometimes also called the Helsinki Treaty because of the later revisions and amendments, of which the latest entered into force in 1996).
To that must be added other important regulatory documents which apply to work within the Nordic Council of Ministers.