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Northern Dimension

The Northern Dimension is a joint policy between EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland. The ND Policy was initiated in 1999 and renewed in 2006. The policy aims at providing a framework to:

  • promote dialogue and concrete cooperation;
  • strengthen stability, well-being and intensified economic cooperation;
  • promote economic integration, competitiveness and sustainable development in Northern Europe.


In addition to the four ND Partners namely EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland, also participating are:

  • EU Members States in their national capacity
  • Regional Councils, the Arctic Council (AC), the Barents Euro-arctic Council (BEAC), the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM);
  • International Financial Institutions (IFIs), e.g. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) as well as other financial institutions;
  • universities, research centres and the business community;>
  • Canada and the United States as observers;
  • Belarus participates in practical cooperation.

The policy covers a broad geographic area, from the European Arctic and Sub-Arctic to the southern shores of the Baltic Sea, countries in the vicinity and from north-west Russia in the east, to Iceland and Greenland in the west.


Renewed commitment

The renewed ND policy was launched at the Helsinki Summit in November 2006, which adopted a ND Political Declaration (PDF) and ND Policy Framework Document (PDF).


Practical cooperation takes place within the Northern Dimension Partnerships

To facilitate ND sectorial cooperation and project implementation, four sectorial Partnerships have been established to deal with the following thematic issues:

The NDEP is a result-focused initiative responding to calls from the international community, for concerted action to tackle some of the most pressing environmental problems in the Northern Dimension area covering the Baltic Sea and Barents region. The NDEP is helping to deliver real benefits to the environment and the people in the whole of the Northern Dimension area.

NDPHS is a cooperative effort and it provides a forum for concerted action to tackle challenges to health and social well-being in the Northern Dimension area. The Partnership's mission is to promote the sustainable development of the Northern Dimension area by improving people’s health and social well-being. It aims to contribute to this process by intensifying cooperation, assisting the Partners and Participants in capacity building, and by enhancing coordination between international activities within the area.

NDPTL’s mission is to facilitate improvements of transport connections and logistics supporting international trade and people-to-people contacts with respect to vulnerable Northern environment, thus stimulating sustainable economic growth in the Northern Dimension area.

The NDPC is an initiative focusing at improvement of operating conditions for cultural and creative industries by bridging the gap between public and private funding, strengthening cooperation between the cultural and creative industries  and the business community throughout the entire Northern Dimension area. Cultural production and culture-based services and innovations should be used to promote Northern Europe and its culture for the people in the region and for wider international consumers and thus contribute to social development and economic growth.


An ND Institute (NDI) and ND Business Council (NDBC) have been established to involve academia and business community into ND cooperation.

The ND Institute maintains the website and provides updated information about ND on Twitter (@ND_Institute).

ND cooperation is based on the principle of co-financing. Over the years, the EU has contributed close to €100m to support the ND aims, out of which the biggest share, €84m has been allocated to the ND Environmental Partnership's Support Fund  (NDEP Support Fund). The total value of the NDEP Support Fund exceeds €330m, EU and Russia being the major donors. EU has also used other financial instruments and programmes to support project cooperation in the region, contributing to the aims of ND Policy, notably the Baltic Sea Region Programme and ENPI Cross-border cooperation programmes. 

In 2014-20, the EU will support the Northern Dimension through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) Regional East Programme

The Northern Dimension idea was initiated by Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari in 1994. The implementation of the Northern Dimension began in earnest under Finland’s leadership in 1997, when Finland officially presented the plan at the European Union Luxembourg summit to develop the Northern Dimension into an EU policy. Two years later, in December 1999, the Council of the European Union gave the European Commission a directive to begin work on an action plan for implementing the Northern Dimension in cooperation with member states.

More information about the Northern Dimension is available on the European Commission and Northern Dimension Institute website:


Last updated: 12 December 2018

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