The declaration says that the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation have an important responsibility to highlight the Nordic perspective in bilateral discussions and at cabinet level in their own countries in order to point out the challenges faced and opportunities offered, especially in crisis situations.
It calls for the ministers to meet when a crisis strikes and make sure that Nordic perspectives are taken into account before national decisions are made. They are also called upon to play their part in ensuring rapid and good communication and exchanges of information in order to limit the negative consequences of crisis-management decisions as far as possible.
“Important to stand together”
“The pandemic underlined how important it is for our countries to stand together in crises. In several areas, co-operation worked well, but COVID-19 also brought many new challenges. The important thing now is to learn from all those experiences, both the positive and the negative ones. The people of the Nordic Region have made it clear that they want to see closer co-operation in areas like contingency planning, and we take that message seriously,” says Anne Beathe Tvinnereim (Norway), the chair of the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation in 2022.
Despite their close relationships, the COVID-19 pandemic showed that the Nordic countries cannot take open societies and borders for granted. They all brought in wide-ranging measures to protect people’s lives and health. However, they chose to deal with the pandemic in different ways, and restrictions on freedom of movement between them affected the lives of many, especially in the border areas.
The declaration stresses that politicians have a particular responsibility for the situation in areas where people’s day-to-day lives involve crossing national borders. It also refers to the fact that the Nordic countries are now exploring various ways of working more closely together on contingency planning and crisis management. National agencies in the various sectors have the main responsibility for this work, but the co-operation ministers follow progress closely.
A declaration for Vision 2030
The declaration is part of the ministers’ contribution to achieving the goals outlined in the vision of the Nordic Region as the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. It is also in line with the Nordic prime ministers’ November 2021 declaration, which also called on the countries to work more closely together on contingency planning.
The Ministers for Nordic Co-operation are meeting in Halden, which is right on the border between Norway and Sweden, 27–28 June. During their stay, the ministers are also meeting with the Freedom of Movement Council, a politically appointed but arm’s-length body set up by the prime ministers in 2014.