The veteran Danish politician Bertel Haarder will lead the Nordic Council next year. First elected to the Danish parliament in 1975, Haarder has served as a minister for a total of 22 years. He has also been a member of the Nordic Council and the Presidium for many years and is well known to those who follow Nordic affairs.
Haarder is a keen supporter of Nordic co-operation. As chair of the Freedom of Movement Council, he has encouraged the governments to work more closely together on several occasions during the COVID-19 crisis.
The pandemic in focus
The way that the pandemic has been dealt with and future co-operation on crisis situations is a top priority in the programme for the Danish Presidency. It notes that the countries reacted differently to the pandemic and that this led to problems for those who work, study, travel and invest in another Nordic country.
The message in the Danish programme is that the countries must learn from the mistake, for example, when it comes to travel restrictions.
“I hope that we have learned from the negative aspects of closing borders. I don’t think we should repeat border closings. In my opinion, they don’t work. And if borders are closed again then it must be done in close co-operation between the countries,” Bertel Haarder says.
Focus on contingency planning
The Danish programme for the Presidency calls for a more robust strategy for contingency planning so that the countries are better prepared for various types of crisis in the future, e.g. pandemics and natural disasters. It also highlights the importance of working more closely together on defence and security and calls for a Nordic focus on the Arctic.
“The Arctic has become a stage for rivalry between the superpowers. Our reaction in the Nordic Region should be work together to make sure there is as little tension in the region as possible. The issue deserves more attention from the Nordic Council, according to the programme.”
The programme also includes calls for closer collaboration on climate issues, freedom of movement, culture, tourism and the Nordic languages.
Annette Lind vill dessutom turn one stroke of the battle for democracy which också nämns in engelska programmet.Demokratin är hotad, också in Europe.
“We see that democracy, human rights and the rule of law are under pressure, including quite close to us in Europe. As far as democracy is concerned, the trend is going in the wrong direction in Poland and Hungary, for example. This makes it extremely important that we in the Nordic Region stand together, promote our shared values and encourage healthy democracy in Europe and the world,” she says.
Taking over in January
Bertel Haarder is member of Venstre – the Danish Liberal Party – and of the Centre Group on the Nordic Council. He was also President of the Nordic Council in 2011.
Annette Lind is a member of the Social Democratic Group on the Nordic Council.
The pair take up their duties in January.
The Nordic Council is the official body for Nordic inter-parliamentary co-operation. It has 87 members from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland.