North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established in 1949. It is a multilateral political and military alliance and a key actor that advances transatlantic and European security and stability. Finland’s security policy environment changed fundamentally after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Following the reassessment of security policy made due to this change, the Government proposed on 15 May 2022 that the President decide that Finland will apply for NATO membership after Parliament has been heard on the matter.

The principles of NATO are set out in the North Atlantic Treaty(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window), also known as the Washington Treaty. The purpose of NATO is to guarantee the freedom and security of its member countries through political and military means. Its core tasks include collective defence and deterrence, crisis management, and cooperative security together with other organisations and countries.

NATO’s collective defence is based on an integrated military command structure, a collective defence planning process and exercises. This way, NATO can defend its member countries should the need arise. NATO’s military structure receives political guidance from the member countries.

Each member country has a permanent delegation at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. The North Atlantic Council is the organisation’s most important decision-making body. All decisions made by the council are taken by consensus. The council meets in a variety of configurations at different levels. The council is led by the Secretary General, who guides the member countries in agreeing on key issues.

NATO currently has 30 member countries, 21 of which are also EU Member States. Of the Nordic countries, Iceland, Norway and Denmark are members of NATO.

Becoming a member of NATO is a political process based on Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Under Article 10, NATO membership is open to any European country that is in a position to further the principles of the Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area. NATO has also set certain political, economic and military requirements for new member countries.  NATO member countries make the decision to invite new members by consensus.

  • Finland is applying for NATO membership

Cooperation between Finland and NATO

The Mission of Finland to NATO(layout.types.url.description) manages Finland’s relations with NATO.

Finland has participated in NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) cooperation since 1994. In addition, Finland joined the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in 1997. In 2014, Finland was one of the advanced partners eligible for NATO’s Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) status. In addition to taking part in EOP cooperation, Finland has promoted cooperation between NATO, Finland and Sweden (30+2).

The main objective of the partnership has been to develop military capabilities and interoperability for the needs of national defence and international crisis management. Finland and NATO have also engaged in regular political dialogue on security policy themes that are of interest to both parties in order to strengthen common security. This dialogue has allowed Finland to advance its own foreign, security and defence policy objectives.

As a partner country, Finland has also participated in crisis management operations led by NATO. Finland is currently participating in NATO-led crisis management operations in Kosovo (Kosovo Force, KFOR)(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window) and Iraq (NATO Mission Iraq, NMI)(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window). By participating in international crisis management operations, Finland promotes international stability and security.