In its letter, the Presidium refers to the strategy for societal security adopted unanimously by the Nordic Council at its Session in October 2019, calling on the governments to implement it, in particular the proposal to coordinate efforts to ensure supplies of important medicine and other health equipment. The letter stresses the need for updated Nordic risk analysis and contingency planning, and proposes setting up an independent Nordic contingency commission.
The COVID-19 pandemic does not respect borders
The Presidium wants the Nordic countries to help each other during the corona crises whenever needed and possible, for example, with medical equipment and health care staff and stresses the importance of continuing to exchange information and best practice.
“The COVID-19 pandemic does not respect borders. We must, therefore, work together across national boundaries. The Nordic countries have exceptionally close relations with each other and a level of trust unique anywhere in the world. It is now that the friendship and trust we have built up must show its worth,” says the President of the Nordic Council Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, who also referred to the new vision for Nordic co-operation, which states that ‘the Nordic Region will become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world’.
Coordinate economic efforts
The letter also calls on the governments to minimise the negative consequence of the necessary travel restrictions introduced between the Nordic countries. It also calls on the governments to assess how to coordinate more closely on future epidemics in order to avoid new obstacles to cross-border freedom of movement.
The Presidium wants the Nordic countries to coordinate their efforts to resurrect the economy after COVID-19, focusing on green and sustainable development and on vulnerable groups, it says in the letter.
The Presidium also calls on the governments to strengthen international co-operation and Nordic coordination in organisations like the WHO and the EU.
The Presidium also thanked all those involved in the work to keep the pandemic in check, including-healthcare staff and a range of other actors for their enormous efforts.
See the Presidium letter for the Prime Ministers below.
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.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen
Prime Minister Sanna Marin
Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir
Prime Minister Erna Solberg
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven
Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen
Prime Minister Kim Kielsen
Prime Minister Veronica Thörnroos
20 April 2020
The network between our countries is solid and wide-ranging. We have many similarities and shared values. The strong ties that bind us together did not arise out of nothing. They are the fruit of close and long-standing working relationships between institutions, organisations and individuals in every area of society. With Vision 2030, the Nordic prime ministers formalised their aim that “the Nordic Region will become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world”. The COVID-19 pandemic does not respect borders. We must, therefore, work together across national boundaries. It is now that the friendship and trust we have built up must show its worth.
The Presidium of the Nordic Council would like to thank you for the important work being done to keep the pandemic in check and take care of the sick. Healthcare staff and a number of other actors are making huge efforts.
The pandemic will pass and better times will come, but we still face many challenges, in both the short and longer term. The national economies have suffered damage. Uncertain times can be fertile ground for extremism and anti-democratic forces. Cyber attacks and disinformation continue to be major threats. COVID-19 can return, either unchanged or in mutated form. Other epidemics can break out. The threat of climate change is still immediate, and increases the risk of flooding, forest fires and extreme weather. There is always a risk of other natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. We cannot address these issues without working together across national borders.
We therefore encourage the Nordic governments to:
- accelerate the implementation of the proposals in the Nordic Council Strategy for Societal Security, which was unanimously adopted at the Session of the Nordic Council in Stockholm in autumn 2019 and later forwarded to the governments. We refer in particular to the proposal that the Nordic governments coordinate efforts to ensure supplies of important medicine and other health materials. We also stress the importance of a joint Nordic understanding of the situation, governance structure and leadership, as well as the need for updated Nordic risk analysis and contingency planning. An independent Nordic contingency commission should be set up.
- minimise the negative consequences of the necessary travel restrictions introduced between the Nordic countries, especially in the border regions. The governments should assess how to coordinate the Nordic countries’ response to epidemics in the future, in a way that makes it possible to avoid restricting mobility, including cross-border freedom of movement in the Nordic region, in particular of cross-border commuters. The governments should give the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation (MR-SAM) a coordinating role in this work.
- strengthen co-operation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and future epidemics. It is still important to exchange information and best practice. The Nordic countries should help each other wherever needed and possible, including in relation to medical equipment and healthcare staff. We refer to the Nordic Public Health Agreement that covers mutual aid at times of emergencies and disasters, which came into force in 2003, and to the Nordic Declaration on Solidarity of 2011.
- coordinate efforts to resurrect and strengthen the economy in the Nordic countries, with a continued focus on green and sustainable development and vulnerable groups. The governments should also coordinate Nordic efforts to support countries that have been hit hard, in health and economic terms, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This applies not only to European countries, but also developing nations with weak social institutions, which complicates dealing with this type of crisis.
- strengthen international co-operation and Nordic coordination in organisations like the WHO and the EU, so that the world's nations are better equipped to help each other and coordinate efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and in response to other global threats.
The Nordic region has shown time and again that we are stronger when we act together. We should continue to do just that.
Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir Britt Bohlin
President of the Nordic Council Secretary General of the Nordic Council
Annette Lind Heidi Greni
Aron Emilsson Linda Modig
Bertel Haarder Martin Kolberg
Christian Juhl Michael Tetzschner
Erkki Tuomioja Oddný G. Harðardóttir
Gunilla Carlsson Steinunn Þóra Árnadóttir
Hans Wallmark Wille Rydman