Nordic cooperation on foreign and security policy

The Nordic countries are Finland's closest international partners of cooperation. The Nordic countries share a common security environment, and are engaged in close foreign, security and defence policy cooperation. Nordic cooperation enjoys wide political and public support.

Nordic flags at Helsinki Central railway station.
Nordic flag day. Helsinki Central railway station, 23.3.2012. Photo: UM

Nordic foreign and security policy cooperation has a long history. Over the past decades, the Nordic countries have collaborated in, for example, peacekeeping and crisis management missions, and worked together to promote human rights. Nordic foreign, security and defence policy cooperation has deepened further in the past few years. The Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) is a good example of the closer cooperation.

The Nordic countries share a common security environment and continue the close cooperation despite their different defence policy solutions. Foreign and security policy cooperation between the Nordic countries is carried out both bilaterally and multilaterally based on common interests. In the recent years, Finland has conducted more active and diverse cooperation with the Nordic countries, especially with Sweden, among other things, because of the weakened security situation in the Baltic Sea and other neighbouring areas. The cooperation covers a wide range of matters between various authorities often in a very concrete form.

By working together based on their common interests, the Nordic countries can strengthen their own security and enhance their input to the promotion of global security. Nordic foreign, security and defence policy cooperation enjoys wide political and public support. For Finland, contacts and interaction with the Nordic partners is also a channel for selectively promoting its other central security and defence policy pillars, the EU’s common security and defence policy and cooperation with NATO.

At the same time, the range of security threats in Finland’s neighbouring areas is growing; examples include hybrid information activities, uncontrolled migration and terrorism as well as security challenges related to the new technologies. Defending international law and the rules-based international system (RIBS) is increasingly important.  Any changes show in the Nordic foreign and security policy agenda and offer not only challenges but also bring new opportunities and needs for cooperation.

Nordic-Baltic foreign and security policy cooperation

The Nordic and Baltic countries’ current format of cooperation (Nordic-Baltic Eight, NB8) started in the 1990s. The first NB8 meeting at foreign ministerial level was held in 1990, which means that 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the cooperation. Finland will serve as the coordinating country (chair) of NB8 cooperation in 2021. The chairmanship rotates among the countries participating in the cooperation – the current coordinating country is Estonia. Finland chaired NB8 meetings last in 2011.

The Nordic and Baltic countries are close partners for Finland in many areas. In the NB8 format, the countries discuss topical foreign and security policy questions from both global and European perspectives. New items on the agenda include, for example digitalisation and climate change. The NB8 cooperation complements the EU integration and the cooperation and dialogue between the five Nordic countries, known as N5.