Freedom of movement in the Nordic Region must be protected – declaration from the meeting of the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation on 19 April 2016

19.04.16 | Declaration
On 19 April 2016 the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation discussed freedom of movement in the Nordic Region and released the following statement:



“Combined with our shared history and culture, the ability of Nordic citizens to move freely between the Nordic countries to study, to work, to run a business, or just for leisure, is at the heart of Nordic co-operation.

The establishment of the Nordic Passport Union in the 1950s was the result of several years of dedicated and visionary efforts. Inter-Nordic freedom of movement became a reality long before the concept was even discussed at the European level. Over the years, the Nordic Region’s open borders have been a major advantage for the Nordic countries and have helped ensure the region’s continued growth and success.

The current refugee crisis has put pressure on freedom of movement in the region. The crisis has brought about considerable challenges to public order and security, which simply cannot be ignored. A temporary measure to address these challenges has been the reintroduction of border controls at the region’s internal borders. Within the framework of their international obligations, the Nordic governments have implemented the measures necessary to manage this difficult situation as sensibly as possible.

However, despite temporary challenges, our vision must continue to be that of freedom of movement within Nordic Region without forgetting that solutions to the current refugee crisis cannot be found solely at the Nordic level, but require European and international co-operation. In working together with our ministerial colleagues responsible for border controls, we are seeking to ensure that the Nordic countries protect freedom of movement between them in relation to the measures that have been implemented to manage the international refugee crisis at a national, European, and global level.

We have also asked the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers to continually analyse the impact of temporary border controls at the region’s internal borders on freedom of movement in the Nordic Region, as well as the impact this has on e.g. the labour market, the economy, and investment.

Finally, we have asked the Freedom of Movement Council to intensify efforts to remove other border barriers in the region that restrict the freedom of movement of both people and businesses, thus inhibiting growth.

Nordic co-operation is strong and flourishing in several areas. All of the Nordic countries wholeheartedly appreciate the collaborative relationships that exist between them. We have just initiated ambitious Nordic co-operation for the integration of newly-arrived migrants to the region. This will enable us to learn from each other’s experiences with regard to the task we currently face as a result of the many people seeking refuge in our region.

We must preserve the Nordic perspective in forthcoming discussions, debates, and proposals on the refugee crisis. Together we are stronger. Together we can develop the already longstanding and successful co-operation between the Nordic countries.”

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