About the Sessions of the Nordic Council

Nordiska rådets session 2017
Magnus Fröderberg/Norden.org
The Plenary is the Council’s supreme decision-making body. The Ordinary Session is held every year in week 44 in the country currently holding the presidency of the Nordic Council, and the Theme Session is held in the spring. The Sessions are unique forums in which Nordic politicians discuss Nordic issues with the prime ministers and other ministers of the Nordic countries.

The Ordinary Session

The Ordinary Session is held in the autumn, usually at the end of October or beginning of November. 

The Sessions are the supreme decision-making body for Nordic parliamentary co-operation. They are a unique form of regional co-operation and are attended by Nordic politicians, who are chosen as members of the Council by their country’s parliament, and Nordic government ministers. They all take part in the debates on important issues for Nordic co-operation, but the right to vote is restricted to the parliamentary members.

Within the last couple of years, guests from other international and Nordic organisations have been able to take part in the debates at the Sessions. Visitors from the Baltic States are those who mostly take up this opportunity. Guests who have a connection to the theme under discussion are invited to the Theme Session. 

Rotating host country

The Nordic country which holds the presidency of the Nordic Council is the host of the Ordinary Session, which is held in that country's parliament building, except in Iceland where the parliamentary building is not big enough. The Theme Session is held in the country which holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

At the beginning of the Ordinary Session, the prime ministers report their plans for Nordic intergovernmental co-operation in the coming year. The prime minister for the country which will hold the presidency of the intergovernmental co-operation in the following year is responsible for this report.

Usually all of the Nordic prime ministers attend and take part in the subsequent debate with the politicians.

Ministers for foreign affairs, defence and other ministers at the Session

The ministers for foreign affairs and defence also give a report on Nordic co-operation in their areas. These are also discussed with the politicians.

Which other ministers take part depends on the policy areas under discussion. This, in turn, is determined by which proposals the members of the Nordic Council present during the year, and what it has been agreed will be decided on at the Session.

The proposals approved by the Session are sent to the Nordic Council of Ministers or to the Nordic governments for implementation.

The Ministers for Nordic Co-operation attend the whole of the Ordinary Session and hold a highly popular question time at which the politicians can raise all kinds of questions concerning Nordic co-operation.

Presidential election

The President and Vice-President of the Nordic Council are elected for the coming year at the Ordinary Session.

The members of the Presidium of the Nordic Council (the political leadership of the Nordic Council and the highest decision-making body between Sessions) as well as members of the various committees for policy matters are also elected at the Ordinary Session.

Awarding of Nordic prizes

The Nordic Council prizes in literature, music, film and for nature and the environment are awarded during the Ordinary Session. This usually takes place during a festive and formal evening event.

Nordic Summit

Taking advantage of the fact that almost all Nordic politicians are gathered in one place, a number of other meetings are held in conjunction with the Session. Since 2006 the Session has started, for example, with a Nordic Summit where the prime ministers and politicians discuss burning questions such as globalisation and the climate threat.

Nordic Youth Council opens

The coming generation of Nordic politicians in the Nordic Youth Council have their own Session just before the Ordinary Session in which they make their decisions on proposals for Nordic co-operation. The youth representatives pursue these issues at the Nordic Council Session, where they have the opportunity of speaking, taking part in discussions and making proposals.

Meetings with other politicians

Nordic politicians usually meet with their colleagues from the Baltic Assembly (which is the parliamentary assembly for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), with Russian politicians and with politicians representing co-operative bodies from other regions in Europe.

Press conferences and seminars

Press conferences, lunch seminars and meetings are arranged during the Session. In addition, there are usually opportunities for informal networking during the evenings.