The First Northern Dimension Day took place in Brussels Résidence Palace on 9 December 2015. Over 50 interested from the European Commission, European Parliament and other stakeholders from the EU and the Northern Dimension area were present at the event, organized with the intention of spreading knowledge of the Northern Dimension (ND) policy and the ND partnerships.
The event was organized by the Northern Dimension Institute (NDI) and opened by Director Riitta Kosonen, Aalto University/Center for Markets in Transition (CEMAT), lead coordinator of the NDI. She emphasized the need for an open discussion forum during these times when Europe is in need of good news. Therefore, the emphasis of the day was set on success stories of the four ND partnerships to highlight the Northern Dimension’s concrete significance for Europe’s development.
The former prime minister of Finland – sometimes also referred to as the “father of the Northern Dimension” – Mr. Paavo Lipponen reminisced the beginning of the policy in the mid-1990’s, when Sweden, Finland and Austria had recently joined the European Union and the need for Northern Dimension policy was acknowledged widely. The aim of the Northern Dimension policy was to create a true win-win situation, which it has effectively accomplished so far.
Mr. Lipponen credited in his speech the Northern Dimension partnerships on their excellent work. The pragmatic approach and concrete projects are the success factors of the Northern Dimension policy. Practical initiatives and good results also ensure that the ND’s future looks bright and the ND partners remain committed to cooperation. During the various prevailing challenges, the Northern Dimension and the Arctic Council provide a welcome opportunity to do meaningful things together in Northern Europe, Mr. Lipponen concluded.
The ND partnerships gave brief presentations and discussed the challenges, success stories and lessons learned during their operations. The panelists included Adviser Jaakko Henttonen from the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP), Director Marek Maciejowski from the Partnership on Health and Social Wellbeing (NDPHS), Director Oddgeir Danielsen from the Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL) and Senior Adviser Ilze Gailite-Holmberg from the Partnership on Culture (NDPC). A case example of a successful project supported by the NDPC was Filmteractive Festival presented by Ms. Agata Wielgus. The presentations and the panel discussion were hosted by Director Kari Aalto, East and North Finland EU office.
Ensuring the engagement and administrative capacity of the stakeholders involved in projects as well as adequate level of political support were aspects that the panelists considered critical for the successful implementation of projects. At times, achieving the commonly set goals and addressing the common challenges also requires putting national interests aside. The panelists referred to “dialogue”, “partnership”, “tangible results” and “collaboration”, when asked to describe the essence of the Northern Dimension. They considered the Northern Dimension policy as an example of good and practical cooperation format that could be applied and learned from in any region. Spreading good policies with pragmatic tools helps to bring disputing sides together. The panelists also argued that the Northern Dimension is a tool for bridging the region both physically and mentally. In addition, the ND could potentially be utilized in developing new regional identity around the Baltic Sea through cultural and economic development. The role of the Northern Dimension Institute in bridging policy makers with the academia as well as in raising awareness and understanding of the ND and its achievements was considered important.
The Northern Dimension Institute wishes to thank the presenters and participants for a lively discussion. The presentations can be downloaded from the links below. More information about the Northern Dimension is available on our website www.northerndimension.info.