Erkki Tuomioja has been a member of the Nordic Council for many years. A member of the Social Democratic Group, he also sits on the Presidium. It is the second time he has been President. The first was in 2008. With the exception of the periods during which he served as a minister in the Finnish government, Tuomioja has been a member of the Nordic Council since 1970.
He says that he wants to build on the continuity of Nordic co-operation.
“This means that we will continue the promote freedom of movement and the sustainable development of the environment, the economy and the social sector, all of which are areas in which the Nordic Region has set an example for the rest of the world. We may not be perfect, but we have done many things better than most and need to share the lessons learned with those who are interested in the progress we have made.”
Lulu Ranne calls for more effective co-operation
Lulu Ranne is a member of the Nordic Freedom Group and chair of the Freedom of Movement Group. Her priority will be areas in which Nordic co-operation can provide tangible added value to the people of the Region.
“The people of the Nordic Region support co-operation. They think it is good but too remote. I hope that the Finnish Presidency will help to make it more concrete, effective and closer to the people. A safe and amenable everyday life for all Nordic citizens is something for which every politician can surely agree to strive. I want companies, the workforce, students, friends and relatives, assistance and all good things to be able to move freely between the Nordic countries,” says Ranne.
Tuomioja and Ranne were unanimously elected at the Session of the Nordic Council on 4 November. They take up office at the start of January and will serve during what will be a special year, as the Nordic Council celebrates its 70th anniversary and marks the occasion in several ways.
The Nordic model faces challenges
The Finnish programme for the Presidency of the Nordic Council in 2022 highlights the Nordic welfare model as one of the most important Nordic achievements. It also points out that the pandemic has presented the countries with new challenges.
The situation has tested the sustainability of the Nordic model. We need a shared vision of where the world is headed and what part we want to play in it, so that we are in a position to address challenges together, according to the new programme.
During the Presidency, Finland wants to conduct a critical assessment of the welfare model, analyse its current state and then look at what challenges the future may bring. The goal is to future-proof the conditions needed for the Nordic welfare model to work.
Finland wants a strong Nordic Region
Sustainability is a high priority in the programme. For example, it says that the most important tasks facing co-operation are to support and promote economic development, curb climate change, preserve and promote biodiversity and build a green Nordic Region. In 2022, Finland will promote the circular economy, sustainable forestry and protection of the oceans.
A part of the programme is also devoted to security, especially in the light of the actions taken by the Nordic countries during the corona crisis. Finland stresses that the Nordic Council wants a strong Nordic Region so that the countries are better prepared to face future crises and pandemics together.
Freedom of movement in the Nordic Region is important
The pandemic also plays a role in the section on a borderless Nordic Region. The Presidency states clearly that people and services must enjoy cross-border freedom of movement again after the pandemic. New and effective tools are needed to promote mobility, including joint plenary sessions of the Nordic governments.
In the future, it will not be enough for the countries to draw up their own national strategies on various topics. A plan is also required for how to develop Nordic strategies, or at any rate for consultations with the other countries before national strategies are drawn up, the programme stipulates.
In the year when the Nordic Council’s international strategy will be updated, the programme also calls for strategic and long-term co-operation on foreign policy. In addition, Finland points out that the Nordic Region has never held a convention on the future, similar to the EU convention, and proposes that one should be held, possibly during the Session of the Nordic Council in 2022.
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.