The strategy paper covers most aspects of what has become known as societal security and includes proposals for joint Nordic exercises, courses in emergency planning, closer co-operation on peace making and conflict resolution, Nordic-Baltic co-operation on cyber security, closer collaboration between police forces and an evaluation of the need for a joint Nordic squadron of firefighting planes.
Involve the Nordic Council of Ministers
The strategy paper also includes a proposal to look at how the Nordic Council of Ministers could be involved in “supporting Nordic co-operation on foreign affairs, defence, security, societal security and emergency planning”.
As things stand, the remit of the Nordic Council of Ministers does not cover foreign affairs, defence, security, emergency planning, disasters and crises.
The people of the region strongly support co-operation on defence and security policy. In fact, a major survey in 2017 showed that these are the two areas in which the most people would like to see the countries work together.
“Bearing in mind the state of the world at the moment, with growing tension on a number of fronts, and the broad popular support for co-operation on security issues, it is high time that the Nordic Council of Ministers – the leading Nordic inter-governmental body – is given a clear mandate in these areas,” says Hans Wallmark, President of the Nordic Council in 2019.
The strategy paper is based on the fact that the Nordic societies face a number of the same challenges, e.g. cyber attacks, terror, extreme weather events and natural disasters, pandemics, problem with energy supplies and a range of other unforeseen problems.
These are all threats that could either have an impact on a single Nordic country or have cross-border repercussions, and the remaining barriers to cross-border freedom of movement between the countries could prevent effective co-operation.
“The Nordic Council wants effective emergency planning and responses at short notice – without borders getting in the way or any doubts arising about roles and responsibilities – so that we can assist each other in times of crises, the strategy says.
The strategy also proposes that the Nordic governments set up an independent commission to evaluate how to optimise Nordic co-operation on societal security.
The Nordic Council is the official inter-parliamentary body for co-operation in the Nordic countries. The Nordic Council of Ministers is the official inter-governmental body. The job of the Nordic Council is to present proposals and recommendations to the Council of Ministers and to the governments of the Nordic countries.