History of Cooperation on Justice Issues
Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland as well as Åland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland are engaged in Nordic cooperation in the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Council. The Nordic Council of Ministers is the official body for inter-governmental cooperation, while the Nordic Council is the official body for inter-parliamentary cooperation.
In 2021, it will be 50 years since the Nordic Council of Ministers was founded. The Nordic Council of Ministers is the official body for inter-governmental cooperation between the governments of the Nordic countries. The Nordic Prime Ministers’ vision is that the Nordic Region will become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. Cooperation in the Nordic Council of Ministers serves this goal. The Nordic Prime Ministers have the overall responsibility for Nordic cooperation. In practice, the responsibility is delegated to the Ministers for Nordic Cooperation (MR-SAM) and to the Nordic Committee for Cooperation (NSK), which coordinates the day-to-day work of Nordic inter-governmental cooperation.
Despite its name, the Council of Ministers actually consists of several individual councils of ministers. There are currently 11 councils of ministers in addition to the Ministers for Nordic Cooperation. One of these is the Nordic Council of Ministers for Justice Affairs (MR-JUST).
Background to Nordic cooperation on justice issues
The legal basis for Nordic cooperation is the so-called Helsinki Treaty, signed in 1962, which also defines the principles for cooperation on justice issues. The Nordic cooperation programme for the justice sector 2019–2022 also steers the work of the justice sector.
Nordic cooperation on justice issues promotes contacts and discussions at the political level and between public officials, and, as necessary, also coordination related to negotiations in international forums, such as the Council of Europe and the UN.
The Nordic Ministers of Justice meet on an annual basis and the Nordic countries meet at the ministerial level with the Baltic countries every second year.
The Secretariat to the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen bears operative responsibility for the day-to-day actions of Nordic inter-governmental cooperation. In addition, the Secretariat coordinates the work of the committee of senior officials of the justice sector in the various Nordic countries.
Cooperation helps the Nordic countries promote the common basic principles of Nordic legislation in line with shared inter-Nordic values. According to the cooperation programme for the justice sector, the cooperation includes the following areas: criminal law and procedural law, the court system, prevention of crime and terrorism, protection of victims of crime, cooperation between the police forces as well as issues related to asylum, immigration, discrimination and basic and human rights. Further areas specified as cooperation areas for the justice sector include areas of public law, such as administrative law, citizens’ right to view documents and legislation on personal data protection. The justice sector also includes areas of civil law, such as family law, law of property and contracts and consumer law. Areas in which Nordic advantages can be achieved are prioritized in the cooperation in the justice sector. Accordingly, emphasis is placed on issues in which better results can be achieved through common or concurring Nordic actions and solutions, such as research, rather than through actions at the national level.
Further information about Nordic Co-operation on legislative affairs