Practical cooperation in the Barents region remains active

Finland’s two-year Chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) started in late 2013 and has now reached the half-way mark. BEAC is a forum for intergovernmental and interregional cooperation in the Barents Region. As the chair, Finland strives to strengthen the exchange of information and dialogue between the different regional fora. The atmosphere in the Council has been constructive and progress has been made in many issues such as the development of Barents Transport Plan and regional climate strategies.

Special attention is paid to synergies between the four priority sectors of the Northern Dimension and the work of the Barents working groups in the fields of environment, culture, transport and logistics, and public health and social well-being. Practical steps to increased cooperation have already been taken. For example, a cultural forum was organised in Kotka on 22 May 2014, which brought together cultural players representing the Barents cooperation, the Northern Dimension and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). The forum enhanced a systematic approach to policy-making in the fields of culture and creative industries within the work of regional councils. Additionally, there was a high level transport seminar “ITS in Logistics in the Northern Dimension, Barents and Arctic Area” organized in Helsinki on 18 June 2014.

The agenda of the latter half of the Finnish Chairmanship includes, for example, a forest sector event focusing on bioenergy, a seminar on cleantech and logistics in the mining industry, a Barents business seminar, and youth cooperation events. Plans concerning the Barents Rescue Exercise 2015 to be held in Kittilä, Northern Finland, in the autumn are underway and running smoothly. Furthermore, an ad hoc working group tasked with analysing the availability of project funding in the Barents region will present its final report in the autumn 2015.

Finland will hand over the Chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council to Russia at the Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Oulu in October 2015.

Laura Quist
Unit for Regional Cooperation
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland