Nordic Council
The Nordic Council is a geo-political, inter-parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

ary forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries
Nordic countries
The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland...

. It was established following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and its first concrete result was the introduction in 1952 of a common labour market and free movement across borders without passports for the countries' citizens.

In 1971 the Nordic Council of Ministers was established to complement the Nordic Council, providing an intergovernmental
Intergovernmental can refer to:*Intergovernmentalism*Intergovernmental Risk Pool*Intergovernmental organization...



During the Second World War Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 were occupied by Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 fought a costly war
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

 with the USSR, and Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, though neutral, still felt the war's effects. Following the war, the Nordic countries
Nordic countries
The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland...

 pursued the idea of a Scandinavian defence union
Scandinavian defence union
A Scandinavian defence union between Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark was planned after the end of World War II. Finland had fought two wars against the Soviet Union, Denmark and Norway had been occupied by Germany between 1940 and 1945, and Sweden, having been a neutral state throughout the...

 to ensure their mutual defence. However Finland, due to its closeness to the USSR, could not participate. They would unify their foreign policy and defence and remain neutral in the event of a conflict and not ally with NATO, which was being planned at the time. The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, keen on getting access to bases in Scandinavia and believing the Nordic countries incapable of defending themselves, stated it would not ensure military support for Scandinavia if they did not join NATO. The project collapsed as a result with Denmark, Norway and Iceland joining NATO.

Further Nordic co-operation, such as an economic customs union, also failed. This led then-Danish Prime Minister Hans Hedtoft
Hans Hedtoft
Hans Hedtoft Hansen was Prime Minister of Denmark from 13 November 1947 to 30 October 1950 as the leader of the Cabinet of Hans Hedtoft I and again from 30 September 1953 to 29 January 1955 as the leader of the Cabinet of Hans Hedtoft II.Hedtoft was a Social Democrat, and had taken over the...

 to propose in 1951 a consultative inter-parliamentary body. This proposal was agreed by Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden in 1952. The Council's first session was held in the Danish Parliament on 13 February 1953 and it elected Hans Hedtoft as its president. When Finnish-Soviet relations thawed following the death of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 Finland joined the council in 1955.

On 2 July 1954 the Nordic labour market was created and in 1958, building upon a 1952 passport-free travel area, the Nordic Passport Union was created. These two measures helped ensure Nordic citizens' free movement around Scandinavia. A Nordic Convention on Social Security was implemented in 1955. There were also plans for a single market
Single market
A single market is a type of trade bloc which is composed of a free trade area with common policies on product regulation, and freedom of movement of the factors of production and of enterprise and services. The goal is that the movement of capital, labour, goods, and services between the members...

 but they were abandoned in 1959 shortly before Denmark, Norway and Sweden joined the European Free Trade Area
European Free Trade Area
At present, there are three multi-lateral free trade areas in Europe, plus the European Union which has a single market, and one former-FTA in recent history...

 (EFTA). Finland became an associated member of EFTA in 1961 and Denmark and Norway applied to join the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...


This move towards the EEC led to desire for a formal Nordic treaty; the Helsinki Treaty outlined the workings of the Council and came into force on 24 March 1962. Further advancements on Nordic cooperation were made in the following years: a Nordic School of Public Health, a Nordic Cultural Fund and Nordic House in Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

. Then-Danish Prime Minister Hilmar Baunsgaard
Hilmar Baunsgaard
Hilmar Baunsgaard was a Danish politician. He was a member of Det Radikale Venstre, a social liberal party. He was the Prime Minister of Denmark from 15 February 1968, ending 15 years of government by the Social Democrats, until 9 October 1971, when the Social Democrats regained power...

 proposed full economic cooperation in 1968; known as Nordek. Nordek was agreed in 1970 but Finland backtracked stating that due to its ties with the USSR it could not form close economic ties with potential members of the EEC (Denmark and Norway).

Due to the failure of Nordek
Nordek was the name of a planned organisation for Nordic economic cooperation similar to the European Economic Community EEC, based on a proposal in 1968 by Danish Prime Minister Hilmar Baunsgaard...

, Denmark and Norway applied to the EEC and the Nordic Council of Ministers was set up in 1971 to ensure continued Nordic cooperation. In 1970 representatives of the Faroe Islands and Åland were allowed to take part in the Nordic Council as part of the Danish and Finnish delegations. Norway turned down EEC membership in 1972 while Denmark acted as a bridge builder between the EEC and the Nordics. Also in 1973, although Finland did not opt for full membership of the EEC, Finland negotiated a free trade treaty with the EEC that in practice removed customs duties from 1977 on, although there were transition periods up to 1985 for some products. Sweden did not apply due to its non-alliance policy, which was aimed at preserving neutrality. Greenland subsequently left the EEC and has since sought a more active role in circumpolar
Arctic Cooperation and Politics
Arctic cooperation and politics are partially coordinated via the Arctic Council, composed of the eight Arctic nations of the United States of America, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Denmark with Greenland and The Faroe Islands...


In the 1970s the Nordic Council founded the Nordic Industrial Fund, Nordtest and Nordic Investment Bank. the Council's remit was expanded to environmental protection; in order to clean up the pollution in the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and North Atlantic, and a joint energy network was established. The Nordic Science Policy Council was set up in 1983 and in 1984 representatives from Greenland were allowed to join the Danish delegation.

Following the fall of the USSR in 1991 the Nordic Council began to cooperate more with the Baltic States and new Baltic Sea organisations. It also led to Sweden and Finland joining the EEC in 1995, which had then become the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 (EU). Norway had also applied but voted against once again. However Norway and Iceland did join the European Economic Area
European Economic Area
The European Economic Area was established on 1 January 1994 following an agreement between the member states of the European Free Trade Association and the European Community, later the European Union . Specifically, it allows Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to participate in the EU's Internal...

 (EEA) which integrated them economically with the EU. The Nordic Passport Union was also subsumed into the EU's Schengen Area
Schengen Area
The Schengen Area comprises the territories of twenty-five European countries that have implemented the Schengen Agreement signed in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, in 1985...

 in 1996.

The Nordic Council became more outward looking, to the Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

, Baltic, Europe and Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. The Øresund Bridge linking Sweden and Denmark led to a large amount of cross-border travel leading to further efforts to reduce barriers. However the initially envisioned tasks and functions of the Nordic Council have become partially dormant due to the significant overlap with the EU and EEA. Since 2008 Iceland has also sought EU membership.


The Nordic Council has 87 members, elected among the members of the national parliaments. The composition of the council reflects the relative representation of the political parties in the national parliaments. It holds its main session in the autumn, while a so-called theme session is arranged in the spring. Each of the national delegations has its own secretariat in the national parliament. The autonomous territories—Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland—also have Nordic secretariats.

The Nordic Council uses the three Continental-Scandinavian languages (Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

, Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

 and Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

) as its official working languages, however it publishes material in Finnish
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

, Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

 and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, as well. Under the Nordic Language Convention
Nordic Language Convention
The Nordic Language Convention is a convention of linguistic rights which came into force on 1 March 1987, under the auspices of the Nordic Council. Under the Convention, citizens of the Nordic countries have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in...

, since 1987, citizens of the Nordic countries have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries without being liable to any interpretation or translation costs. The Convention covers visits to hospitals, job centres, the police and social security offices. The languages included are Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and Icelandic.

The Nordic Council and the Council of Ministers have their headquarters in Store Strandstræde
Store Strandstræde
Store Strandstræde is a street in Copenhagen, Denmark. It extends diagonally from Kongens Nytorv, at the corner of Nyhavn and Bredgade, to Sankt Annæ Plads....

 in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 and various installations in each separate country, as well as many offices in neighbouring countries. The Council does not have any formal power on its own, but each government has to implement any decisions through its country's legislative assembly (parliament). With Denmark, Norway and Iceland being members of NATO and Finland and Sweden being neutral
Neutrality (international relations)
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

, the Nordic Council has not been involved in any military cooperation.

Council of Ministers

The original Nordic Council concentrates on inter-parliamentary cooperation. The Nordic Council of Ministers, founded in 1971, is responsible for inter-governmental cooperation. Prime Ministers have ultimate responsibility but this is usually delegated to the Minister for Nordic Cooperation and the Nordic Committee for Co-operation, which co-ordinates the day-to-day work. The autonomous territories have the same representation as states.


Members of the Council:
State Membership Parliament Membership status Represented since Members
 Denmark Full Folketinget Sovereign state 1952 16
 Iceland Full Althing
The Alþingi, anglicised variously as Althing or Althingi, is the national parliament of Iceland. The Althingi is the oldest parliamentary institution in the world still extant...

Sovereign state 1952 7
 Norway Full Storting Sovereign state 1952 20
 Sweden Full Riksdag
Parliament of Sweden
The Riksdag is the national legislative assembly of Sweden. The riksdag is a unicameral assembly with 349 members , who are elected on a proportional basis to serve fixed terms of four years...

Sovereign state 1952 20
 Finland Full Eduskunta
Parliament of Finland
The Eduskunta , is the parliament of Finland. The unicameral parliament has 200 members and meets in the Parliament House in Helsinki. The latest election to the parliament took place on April 17, 2011.- Constitution :...

Sovereign state 1955 18
 Greenland Associate Landsting
Parliament of Greenland
The Parliament of Greenland is the legislature in the government of Greenland, an autonomous province of Denmark. The government of Greenland is also called Home Rule of Greenland. 16 seats are needed for a majority....

Self-governing region of the Danish realm 1984 2
 Faroe Islands Associate Løgting
Løgting is the unicameral parliament of the Faroe Islands, a self-ruling dependency of Denmark.The name literally means "Law Thing" - that is, a law assembly - and derives from Old Norse lǫgþing, which was a name given to ancient assemblies. A ting or Þing has existed on the Faroe Islands for over...

Self-governing region of the Danish realm 1970 2
 Åland Islands Associate Lagting
Parliament of Åland
The Lagting, or Lagtinget, is the parliament of Åland, an autonomous, demilitarised and unilingually Swedish-speaking territory of Finland. The Lagting has 30 seats.- Elections :- See also :*Government of Åland, or Ålands landskapsregering...

Self-governing territory of Finland 1970 2

The Sámi
Sami people
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami, are the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost...

 political structures have long desired formal representation in the Council's structures, and are increasingly de facto included in activities touching upon their interests. In addition, the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

 have expressed their wishes for full membership in the Nordic Council instead of the current associate membership.

General Secretary

: Emil Vindsetmoe 1971–1973: Helge Seip
Helge Seip
Helge Seip was a Norwegian politician for the Liberal Party and later the Liberal People's Party.He was born in Surnadal. At a young age he became involved in the Young Liberals, the youth wing of the Liberal Party. In the local chapter of Oslo he was a member of the board from 1937 to 1939, and...

 1973–1977: Gudmund Saxrud
Gudmund Saxrud
Gudmund Saxrud was a Norwegian civil servant and diplomat.He was born in Stange. Having graduated as cand.oecon. in 1948, he was hired as an assisting secretary in the Ministry of Trade, and worked there until 1958...

  1977–1982: Ilkka-Christian Björklund 1982–1987: Gehard af Schultén 1987–1989: Jostein Osnes 1990–1994: Anders Wenström 1994–1996: Berglind Ásgeirsdóttir
Berglind Ásgeirsdóttir
Berglind Ásgeirsdóttir is the Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD. She has been at this post since September 2002 and among her responsibilities are the areas of education, health, labour and social policy and public communication....

 1996–1999: Frida Nokken
Frida Nokken
Frida Nokken is a Norwegian civil servant.She was born in Fredrikstad. A cand.polit. by education, she worked for Statskonsult from 1975, the Financial Supervisory Authority from 1989 and Posten Norge from 1992. From 1995 to 1999 she served as director of the Norwegian Customs and Excise Authorities...

 1999–2007: Jan-Erik Enestam
Jan-Erik Enestam
Jan-Erik Enestam is a Finland-Swedish politician from the Swedish People's Party. He has a degree from the Åbo Akademi university in Turku....



Some desire the Nordic Council's promotion of Nordic cooperation to go much further than at present. Gunnar Wetterberg, a Swedish historian and economist, wrote a book entered into the Nordic Council's year book that proposes the creation of a Nordic Federation from the Council in around a few decades.

See also

  • Arctic Cooperation and Politics
    Arctic Cooperation and Politics
    Arctic cooperation and politics are partially coordinated via the Arctic Council, composed of the eight Arctic nations of the United States of America, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Denmark with Greenland and The Faroe Islands...

  • European Union
    European Union
    The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

  • Nordic Passport Union
    Nordic Passport Union
    The Nordic Passport Union allows citizens of the Nordic countries: Denmark , Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland to travel and reside in other Nordic countries without a passport or a residence permit.- Establishment :...

  • West Nordic Council
    West Nordic Council
    The West Nordic Council is a cooperation forum of the parliaments and governments of Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland. It was initially founded in 1985 as the West Nordic Parliamentarian Council of Cooperation but the name was changed in 1997. The council comprises six MPs from each...

  • Nordic countries
    Nordic countries
    The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland...

  • Nordic Council Music Prize
    Nordic Council Music Prize
    The Nordic Council Music Prize is awarded annually by NOMUS, the Nordic Music Committee. Every two years it is awarded for a work by a living composer...

  • Nordic Council Film Prize
  • Nordic Council's Literature Prize
  • Baltic region
    Baltic region
    The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

  • Baltoscandia

External links

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