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Northern Dimension

The Northern Dimension is a European Union external and cross-border cooperation policy that covers the Nordic countries, the Baltic Sea countries, the Arctic region, and Western Russia. The objective of the Northern Dimension is to strengthen joint cooperation, increase stability and security, and ensure the continuation of democratic reforms and progress.

The Northern Dimension is a primarily project-based EU foreign policy instrument in the field of regional cooperation. The European Union, Iceland, Norway, and Russia participate in it as equal partners. The Northern Dimension is also the external dimension of the Baltic Sea Strategy. Canada and the United States are observer countries, and Belarus participates in practical cooperation.

The daily work of the Northern Dimension involves collaboration with various partners, including regional organisations and international financial institutions such as: the Council of Baltic Sea States, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Atlantic Council, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Nordic Investment Bank, and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation. Cooperation also occurs with universities, research centres, and businesses.

Northern Dimension areas of cooperation:

  • Economics, business, and infrastructure;
  • Human capital, education, culture, research, and healthcare;
  • Environment, nuclear safety, and natural resources;
  • Cross-border cooperation and regional development;
  • Judicial and domestic affairs.

Northern Dimension partnership programmes:

  • Public health and social well-being partnership. The main objective is to introduce the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle and restricting the spread of infectious diseases (such as AIDS).
    • Estonia participates through the Ministry of Social Affairs.

More information about projects related to Estonia

More information about projects related to Estonia (192.96 KB, PDF)

  • Environmental partnership. The Northern Dimension’s environmental fund participated in the building of the St. Petersburg water treatment plant, which opened in 2005.

For Estonia, the priority areas of cooperation are the transport and logistics partnership, the public health and social well-being partnership, and the culture partnership.


Northern Dimension projects are based on the principle of co-financing. The EU has allocated 100 million Euros for the implementation of various projects over the years, of which the largest proportion – 84 million Euros – has gone to the environmental partnership.


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.

According to the initial plan, it was to be a part of the European Union common policy. Northern Dimension partner countries Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania became member states of the European Union on 1 May 2004. This provided momentum for the continuing development of the Northern Dimension. After that, Western Russia and the Kaliningrad exclave were increasingly involved in the cooperation.

The Northern Dimension as a part of EU policy supports the strengthening of stability and well-being in the Baltic Sea region primarily through economic cooperation and the development of interstate relations.

More information about the Northern Dimension is available on the European Commisions website:

Last updated: 9 June 2014

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