The Northern Dimension (ND) policy refers to practical cooperation between the European Union, Russia, Norway and Iceland, initiated by Finland. It aims at providing a framework for stability, wellbeing and economic development in northern Europe.
The ND policy offers a flexible and effective mechanism for its partner countries to deepen their cooperation in all separately agreed sectors. The United States, Canada and Belarus have an observer status.
The European Union, Iceland and Norway have strongly condemned the military invasion of Ukraine launched by Russia on 24 February 2022. As a result of the invasion, the other Northern Dimension countries have suspended all ND policy measures concerning Russia and Belarus until further notice. However, they are committed to continuing cooperation amongst themselves. If the conditions for cooperation with Russia are restored in future, the members can assess whether to resume their cooperation, which will emphasise common values and rules.
Practical cooperation within the Northern Dimension Partnerships
The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership
The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP), which was established in 2001, addresses issues relevant to the region's environment: the protection of water bodies (Baltic Sea and Barents Sea), nuclear safety, waste management and district heating projects. NDEP aims to increase and coordinate funding for important environmental projects with cross-border effects in the ND area.
The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Support Fund (NDEP Support Fund), set up on the initiative of international financial institutions, is administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Of the EUR 348 million allocated to the NDEP Support Fund, EUR 182 million has been tied to environmental projects and EUR 166 million to nuclear safety projects (November 2020).
The biggest donor is the EU (European Commission and EU Member States), while Russia is the second biggest donor. Such international financial institutions as the EBRD, the European Investment Bank (EIP), the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) from Germany are also participating in the implementation of the NDEP.
To date, the NDEP Support Fund has mobilised EUR 1.4 billion to environmental and energy-efficiency projects, implemented for example in St Petersburg, Petrozavodsk and Kaliningrad. In addition, nuclear waste projects have been carried out as part of the NDEP especially in Kola Peninsula. Finland supports the identification and preparation of projects designed to curb black carbon emissions and other harmful emissions.
Projects in the nuclear safety sector are related, among other things, to the processing of radioactive waste and the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel. Unlike the environmental projects under the NDEP, all nuclear waste projects are funded by donations. Examples of successful projects include the decommissioning of a storage facility in Andreeva Bay as well as the defueling of a Papa-Class Submarine (NPS 501) and the decommissioning of the Lepse FTB (Floating Technical Base) service ship. It is estimated that 17,000 radioactive objects are dumped in the Arctic Ocean.
The Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics
The Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL) was established in October 2009. In future, it aims to lay an emphasis on digitalisation, automation and robotics. Logistics solutions and acquisition of relevant research data are also important. Finland has emphasised not only digital solutions but also green transport, including the reduction of maritime transport emissions, as well as connecting Europe and Asia as part of the implementation of the EU strategy for connecting Europe and Asia and the Green Deal.
The Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Wellbeing
The Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Wellbeing (NDPHS) provides a forum for preventing the spread of communicable diseases and for promoting healthy lifestyles. The Partnership was established in 2003.
It operates through Expert Groups, addressing the following themes: HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and associated infections, antimicrobial resistance, alcohol and substance abuse, non-communicable diseases, occupational health and safety, primary healthcare, prison healthcare.
New themes include ageing, comprehensive care, mental health and digitalisation. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the NDPHS can be expected to become more important in future.
The Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture
The Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC) is the most recent of the partnership, established in May 2010.
It supports the improvement of operational conditions for cultural and creative industries by promoting economically viable cultural activities. In addition, the NDPC helps to enhance exchange of information about cooperation and funding opportunities. It has been an effective and important partnership for countries and actors in the ND area.
The European Union, Iceland and Norway have suspended all Northern Dimension policy measures concerning Russia and Belarus until further notice. However, they are committed to continuing cooperation between themselves. If the conditions for cooperation with Russia are restored in future, the members can assess whether to restart cooperation which will emphasise common values and rules.
The Northern Dimension Institute and the Northern Dimension Business Council
Other forms of operation are the Northern Dimension Institute (NDI) and the Northern Dimension Business Council (NDBC).
The Northern Dimension Institute, which was established in November 2009, is a university network focusing on ND-related themes. The NDI has aimed to strengthen and promote the themes of Northern Dimension in the areas of science, education and research.
The Northern Dimension Institute has been open to all interested higher-level educational institutions, researchers and research institutes in the area of Northern Dimension or elsewhere.
NDI is coordinated by the Center for Markets in Transition (CEMAT) of Aalto University in cooperation with St Petersburg State University of Economics (UNECON) and Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU) in Arkhangelsk.
The Northern Dimension Institute will terminate its activities by the end of 2022, because academic cooperation with Russia and EU funding have been suspended.
Northern Dimension Business Council has aimed to promote networking between companies and dialogue between business and government structures in the Northern Dimension area. Practical work has been carried out in sector-specific and theme-specific working groups, which have all been co-chaired by one Russian and one other ND partner chair.
Sectoral working groups have included cleantech, pharmaceutical industry, machine building (components for cars) and creative industries. Thematic groups focus on energy efficiency, funding and education/labour issues. All forms of cooperation have been open to interested companies irrespective of their size or country of origin.
The Council has suspended all of its activities following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Funding of the Northern Dimension
ND cooperation is based on the principle of co-financing. Funding is provided not only by the participating states but also via the EU's funding instruments and programmes and international financial institutions (IFIs). Funding from the EU, earmarked to projects carried out under the ND partnerships, creates stability and continuity in the ND cooperation. The guiding principles for EU-Russia relations, adopted in spring 2016, have an influence on project funding under the ND.
- Northern Dimension Policy: Joint Statement by the European Union, Iceland and Norway on suspending activities with Russia and Belarus(layout.types.url.description)
- Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window)
- Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window)
- Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window)
- The Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window)
- Northern Dimension Institute(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window)
- EU relations with Northern Dimension (EU External Action)(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window)