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 joined NATO on 4 April 2023.

The principles of NATO are set out in the North Atlantic Treaty(Link to another website.) (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 32 member countries, 23 of which are also EU Member States. All Nordic countries 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.

History of cooperation between Finland and NATO

Permanent Representation of Finland to NATO(Link to another website.) manages Finland’s relations with NATO.

Finland joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme in 1994 and 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 promoted cooperation between NATO, Finland and Sweden (30+2).

As a partner nation, Finland participated in crisis management operations led by NATO. Finland is currently contributing to NATO-led crisis management operations in Kosovo (Kosovo Force, KFOR) and Iraq (NATO Mission Iraq, NMI). By participating in international crisis management operations, Finland promotes international stability and security.

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

Finland applied for membership in NATO on 17 May 2022. Finland decided to apply for NATO membership to increase Finland’s security. Finland became a member of NATO on 4 April 2023. The most significant effect of the membership is that Finland is part of NATO’s collective defence and covered by the security guarantees enshrined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.