Meeting of the Four Regional Councils of the North

This year, the CBSS Secretariat was delighted to host the annual meeting of the four Councils of the Norht: Arctic Council, Barents Euro-Arctic Council, Nordic Council of Ministers and, of course, Council of the Baltic Sea States.

The meeting took place online, but we were lucky to have Mr. Tomas Hallberg, the outgoing Head of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council Secretariat with us at our Secretariat in Stockholm, alongside our Director General Mr. Grzegorz Poznański and Deputy Director Genearl Mr. Bernd Hemingway. The Lithuanian Presidency team, Chair Ms. Kornelija Jurgaitienė and Committee of Senior Officials representative Tomas Irnius joined us online from Vilnius.

Council and presidency representatives (Head of the Arctic Council Secretariat Ms. Nina Buvang Vaaja and Ms. Sólrún Svandal representing the Icelandic Presidency of the Arctic Council; along with Mr. Hallberg, the incoming Head of the Barents Euro-Arctic Secretariat Mr. Markus Karlsen was present, with Ms. Gøril Johansen representing the Norwegian Chairmanship of the Council; Chief of Staff Mr. Jonas Wendel represented the Nordic Council of Ministers, with Presidency Chairs Mr. Ove Ullerup and Mr. Johan Schalin representing the outgoing Danish and the incoming Finnish presidencies of the Council, respectively) and other delegates briefed each other about their activities and priorities since the last meeting in 2019 and no online meeting passes without sharing experiences about how cooperation and usual activities were affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Special attention was paid to cooperation on including youth in the decision-makin processes. There was a big interest in the issue from all councils and new collaboration perspectives were identified where CBSS expertise was especially appreciated.

The meeting also welcomed guest briefings by Northern Dimension Partnership on Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS) Director Ms. Ülla-Karin Nurm and Deputy Director of the Department of European Cooperation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Mr. Igor Kapyrin. Ms. Nurm’s briefing focused on the impact of COVID-19 on health and society, followed by an introduction of a plan to organize series of events co-organized by the CBSS and NDPHS on the impact of COVID-19 on different areas. Mr. Kapyrin, who chaired a recent meeting of the Northern Dimension Steering Committee, briefed about current activities of the Northern Dimension and discussed possible opportunities for closer cooperation with the Four Councils.