The Nordic Council of Ministers and the three Baltic countries have developed increasingly broad cooperation since the early 1990s. A new and important step has been taken with the accession of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to the EU. The new guidelines should be seen as the contribution of the Nordic Council of Ministers to advance cooperation in a new political environment.
During the first phase of cooperation between the five Nordic countries and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, relations characteristically had the function of providing support and aid. In the second phase of cooperation, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were consulted during the preparation of the current framework programme that expires at the turn of the years 2005/2006.
The present guidelines represent a new, third phase of cooperation between the Nordic countries and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, constituting cooperation between eight states on an equal basis (NB8). For the Nordic Council of Ministers, the guidelines will partially take effect from the year 2005. Ongoing projects falling outside the scope of the guidelines will be terminated as soon as possible and at the latest by the end of 2005.
The aim of the guidelines is to identify areas in which the Nordic and Baltic countries may have shared interests, i.e. which areas provide the best basis for cooperation. The guidelines should not be regarded as a final product, but as a step in the ongoing process to further develop cooperation in a phase where all countries involved are searching to find the way forward.