The Nordic region consists of the following countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It also includes three self-governing areas: The Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. There are eight time zones, approximately 25 million inhabitants and 9 official languages.
The Nordic Council was formed in 1952 and is the official inter-parliamentary body for cooperation in the Nordic Region. Each calendar year one Nordic country presides at the Nordic Council. In 2016 the Nordic Council is chaired by Denmark.
The Nordic Council of Ministers was formed in 1971 and is the official inter-governmental body for cooperation in the Nordic Region. The formal responsibility for the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers lies with the prime ministers of the Nordic countries, but in practice, the Nordic Council of Ministers work in each Nordic country is coordinated by a Nordic Cooperation Minister and a Nordic Co-operation Committee. The Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers rotates between the five Nordic countries and is held for a period of one year.
In 2019, the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers is held by Iceland. Young people, sustainable tourism and ocean affairs are in focus under Iceland’s Presidency programme "A Common Path". Nordic emphases on gender equality, digitalisation and sustainable development are incorporated into the Presidency projects, together with the UN Global Goals. The theme of the Presidency refers to the Nordic countries’ friendship, as it is manifest in mobility and strong mutual co-operation. They also share common paths to the rest of the world, where the Nordic countries present themselves jointly and make their contribution to international cooperation for peace, security and environmental protection. The common paths of the future lie through the digital world. There is deep-rooted respect for the principles of democracy and rule of law in the Nordic countries. We are determined to continue to be peaceful and diverse welfare societies, where culture and education flourish, and everyone is entitled to enjoy life’s opportunities. Societies where innovation goes hand-in-hand with the interests of nature, employment and a vital economy. Nordic co-operation has shown that it is better to build bridges than walls. There is nothing old-fashioned about co-operation, friendship and respect. These basic Nordic values are always at the forefront.
Cooperation between the Baltic countries and the Nordic Council of Ministers was launched in 1991 when the NCM opened its offices in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Ever since then, the offices have built a strong bridge of values and networks between the Nordics and Baltics. The Baltic and Nordic countries are linked by common cultural, historical, political and economic ties. Regular political dialogue and practical cooperation have been established between the Baltic and Nordic countries, with a potential for further development.