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About Northern Dimension
The Northern Dimension is a policy framework for cooperation involving the EU, its Member States and partner countries Iceland, Norway and Russia. It aims at providing a common platform for promoting dialogue and concrete cooperation as well as strengthening stability and promoting economic integration, competitiveness and sustainable development in Northern Europe.
Originally launched in 1997, from the beginning of 2007 the Northern Dimension is defined by two documents, namely the Political Declaration on the Northern Dimension Policy and the Northern Dimension Policy Framework Document– both endorsed at the ND Summit on 24 November 2006 in Helsinki, Finland. Unlike the former Actions Plans for the Northern Dimension (1st Action Plan 2000-2003 and 2nd Action Plan 2004-2006), the two above-mentioned documents are of a permanent nature. Another important feature of the new Northern Dimension policy is that now it is closely linked to cooperation between the EU and Russia, i.e. the ND is a regional expression of the four EU-Russia Common Spaces and a tool for the implementation of their road maps (with the full participation of the other two partners, namely Iceland and Norway, in matters relevant to the ND).
The following priority sectors have been agreed for the Northern Dimension:
- Economic cooperation, including the promotion of trade, investments, customs, SMEs, business, innovation, well-functioning labour markets, financial services, infrastructure, energy, agriculture, forestry, transport and logistics, telecommunications and information technology;
- Freedom, Security and Justice, including the facilitation of people-to-people contacts, development of border management, good governance, efficiency of the judicial system and judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters, fight against organized crime, trafficking in human beings, drugs trafficking, illegal immigration and other cross-border crime;
- External security: civil protection;
- Research, education and culture, including increased cooperation in research and education exchange programmes, youth policy, promotion of people-to-people contacts, links between cultural and economic life, visibility of regional and local cultural identity and heritage;
- Environment, nuclear safety and natural resources, including the reduction of the risk of nuclear and other pollution, maritime safety, protection of the marine environment in the Baltic and Barents Seas, biodiversity, forests, fish stocks and protection of the Arctic ecosystems; cooperation in the fields of water policy, climate change, environmental legislation and administrative capacity building;
- Social welfare and health care, including prevention of communicable diseases and life-style related diseases and promotion of cooperation between health and social services.
The Northern Dimension covers a broad geographic area ranging from the European Arctic and Sub-Arctic areas to the southern shores of the Baltic Sea, including the countries in its vicinity and from North-West Russia in the east to Iceland and Greenland in the west. Since the accession of the Baltic States and Poland to the EU, North-West Russia has been the principal geographic focus.
From the beginning of 2007 the Northern Dimension policy is a joint endeavour of four partners, including the European Union, Iceland, Norway and Russia.
Other participants are:
- The regional councils in the North:
- The Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC);
- The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS);
- The Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM);
- The Arctic Council (AC);
- The International Financing Institutions active in the North, notably the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and the World Bank (IBRD).
- Other European Union institutions and bodies and those of the other Northern Dimension partners.
Other Northern Dimension actors are: regional and sub-regional organisations and commissions in the Baltic and Barents area, sub-national and local authorities, non-governmental organisations and other civil society organisations (including notably indigenous peoples’ organisations), universities and research centres, business and trade union communities, etc.
The observer countries are Belarus, Canada and USA. Northern Dimension provides a frame of reference for intensifying the transatlantic cooperation of the Northern Dimension partners in matters concerning the northern regions of the world, through the observer status of the latter two countries.
Governing of the Northern Dimension cooperation is being done at three levels:
- Northern Dimension Ministerial Meetings;
- Northern Dimension Senior Officials Meetings (a similar composition to the ministerial level, held whenever necessary and at least every alternate year between Ministerial meetings;
- Steering Group (composed of representatives of the European Union, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation, established at an expert level).
Currently, there are four Northern Dimension partnerships in place:
- The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) - a result-focused initiative responding to calls for concerted action to tackle some of the most pressing environmental problems in the Northern Dimension area;
- Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC) - the main objective of which is to function as a focal point for networks, projects and other cultural activities in the ND area with a view to keeping interested actors continuously informed of plans and activities and for avoiding overlap. The Partnership aims to provide a platform for exchange of information and best practices, for promoting coordination and cultural cooperation;
- The Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS), currently being viewed;
- Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL) – set up to improve the major transport connections and logistics in the Northern Dimension region, with the purpose of stimulating sustainable economic growth at the local/regional and global level. This partnership covers all modes of transport including road, rail, inland waterways, aviation and maritime.
Additionally, the following two structures have been established within the Northern Dimension policy framework:
- Northern Dimension Institute (NDI) - an open network of universities and research institutes with expertise in the priority sectors of the Northern Dimension policy, notably in the fields of energy, the environment, public health, transport, logistics as well as culture and higher education;
- Northern Dimension Business Council (NDBC) - the main goal of which is to provide a platform for business dialogue, implementation of specific investment projects and producing joint recommendations aimed at improving conditions for mutual trade and investment within the Northern Dimension area.
- European External Action Service web page about the Northern Dimension;
- The New Northern Dimension Policy;
- The Northern Dimension - a Finnish Perspective;
- The Northern Dimension by Markku Heikkilä;
- European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Report: A Baltic Sea Strategy for the Northern Dimension;
- Progress Report submitted to the third Ministerial meeting of the Renewed Northern Dimension Policy;
- Joint Statement of the third Ministerial Meeting of the renewed ND;
- Progress Report submitted to the second Ministerial meeting of the Renewed Northern Dimension Policy;
- Joint Statement of the second Ministerial Meeting of the renewed ND;
- Progress Report for the first Ministerial meeting of the Revised Northern Dimension Policy;
- Joint Statement of the first Ministerial Meeting of the renewed ND.