Overall responsibility for the Nordic Council’s international co-operation and issues concerning foreign affairs, security and defence policy lies with the Presidium. International co-operation also accounts for a significant proportion of the Nordic Council committees’ activities. The Nordic Council has had an office in Brussels since 2017.
The Nordic Council encourages all of the Nordic countries, irrespective of their membership of alliances, to work more closely together on international affairs, defence and security, including civil defence. Despite their national borders and party-political differences, the countries of the Nordic Region share a deep respect for democracy, the rule of law, equality and human rights. We take these values for granted at home, but that is not the case in many other countries. The Nordic Council works to keep these values high on the international agenda.
The Baltic Region
The Baltic and Nordic countries have a great deal in common, and the Baltic Assembly is one of the mainstays of the Nordic Council’s international co-operation.
The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) brings together parliamentarians and officials from all of the countries around the Baltic Sea and is an important platform for the Nordic Council.
The Nordic Council holds an annual Belarus seminar, attended by representatives of the Belarusian opposition, NGOs, the National Assembly of Belarus and international organisations. The purpose of the seminar is to promote democratisation and maintain dialogue between the parties.
The Nordic Council wishes to maintain a constructive and stable relationship between Russia and the Nordic Region. Every year, Russian parliamentarians are invited to one of the Nordic countries on a study visit. The Session of the Nordic Council also hosts a roundtable discussion with Russian MPs and the Nordic Council.
The northern areas
The nature of the northern areas is unique, but it is vulnerable to environmental threats, especially in an era of rapid climate change. Co-operation with the West Nordic Council and the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (CPAR) is, therefore, a high priority.
The Nordic Council supports the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Biodiversity Convention and the Paris Agreement. It also attends annual climate summits and other international gatherings.
Canada and the USA
Canada and the USA are important to the Nordic Region, both in relation to the Arctic and in several other areas. The Nordic Council, therefore, seeks to strengthen co-operation between the Nordic Region and North America. Many Americans feel an affinity with the Nordic Region, and it is important that the Nordic Region explores the potential this entails.
The Nordic Council pays close attention to EU issues of interest to the Nordic Region and strives to promote closer contact with Nordic stakeholders in Brussels. Contact between the European Parliament and the Nordic Council is therefore of particular importance.
Germany is an important partner for the Nordic countries. The Nordic Council’s co-operation with German parliamentarians includes work with the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), which also has representatives from both the German Bundestag and the north German state parliaments. The north German state of Schleswig-Holstein has a significant Danish minority, and there is a good working relationship between the Nordic Council and the Landtag in Schleswig-Holstein.
The Benelux countries
The Benelux countries share many of the same values as the Nordic countries, and the Nordic Council holds regular talks with the Benelux Parliament.
Despite Brexit, the Nordic Council considers the United Kingdom an important partner for the Nordic Region.