The Nordic Council of Ministers, NCM, was created in 1971 to intensify co-operation among the governments of the five Nordic countries (Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland). The secretariat of the NCM is located in Copenhagen, Denmark. Since March 2013, the Secretary General of the NCM has been Dagfinn Høybråten. In April 2014, Mr. Høybråten visited Estonia, where he also met Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.
Co-operation between the Nordic Council of Ministers and Estonia was established in 1991, when the NCM opened representation offices in the capitals of the once again independent Baltic countries. That started a close partnership between Estonia and the NCM, which takes the form of numerous co-operative projects in many different fields.
Since early 2015, the the Nordic Council of Ministers´ Office in Estonia has been led by Mr. Christer Haglund. The office’s task is to widely introduce Nordic co-operation and manage all of the co-operative projects and programmes. Both public and private sector organisations, as well as civic organisations can apply for NCM projects. In order to ensure effective co-operation throughout the country, there are also branches of the NCM Office in Tartu and in Narva. In early 2016, the Nordic Council of Ministers´ Office in Estonia celebrated 25 years of operations in Estonia.
The basis for the cooperation between the NCM and the Baltic countries is governed by guidelines, which are updated every five years. In October of 2013, new cooperation guidelines for the period of 2014-2018 were adopted. The guidelines set the focus on a number of themes, which are:
- Education, research and innovation
- Business, cluster cooperation and creative industries
- The environment, climate and energy
- The challenges faced by welfare societies, including cross-border issues affecting both the Baltic, as well as Nordic countries, such as demographic changes, migration, organised crime and human trafficking.
Estonia has set a clear goal to gradually increase co-financing of joint projects as well as participation in their planning. In other words, assistance programmes have become co-operation programmes. The first equally implemented Nordic scholarship programme was NORDPLUS 2008-2011, which the three Baltic states joined on equal ground with the Nordic countries in 2008. In 2009 three new joint Nordic-Baltic programmes were opened: a cultural mobility programme; a public administration mobility programme; and a business and industry mobility programme.
The work of the NCM is chaired by one of the five Member States on a rotating basis (generally the order is: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland). In 2016, Finland holds the Presidency of the NCM; the main themes for the Finnish Presidency are water, nature and peole. In 2015, Denmark held the Presidency and in 2017, the Presidency will be assumed by Norway.