Structure of Nordic Council

By | October 2, 2021

According to definitionexplorer, the Nordic Council was established in 1952 as a co-operation body for the parliaments of the Nordic countries. The council consists of 87 members, who are elected each year by the parliaments of the countries and the popular representation of the autonomous territories (Faroe Islands, Åland and Greenland). The Council’s work also involves a varying number of ministers who do not have the right to vote.

Of the council members, the Danish parliament has 16 representatives, the Faroese parliament and the Greenlandic parliament 2 each, the Finnish parliament 18, the Åland parliament 2, the Icelandic parliament 7 and the Norwegian parliament, as well as the Swedish parliament 20 representatives each. The parliamentarians are appointed in proportion to the party political composition of the parliaments.

Since the members previously sought national unity on various issues, the Nordic Council has since the 1970’s become increasingly party-politically controlled. There are four party groups: the Conservative Group, the Center Group, the Social Democratic Group and the Left Socialist Green Group. It is a way of working that is considered to give a better result than working in the national delegation.

The Sami populations have demanded representation in the Nordic Council since the 1960’s. In 1994, they were given the status of observers. The requirement for membership is constantly recurring but has not yet won a hearing.

Individual members, governments or the Nordic Council of Ministers have the right to make proposals, which may lead to recommendations. They are not binding but have sometimes had an impact on governments.

Every year, the governments or the Council of Ministers inform the Nordic Council of what has been done. This is done in letters to the parliaments, which then deal with the accounts. It is generally accepted with only obligatory debate posts and few reservations. The conclusion is that the parliaments ‘once important review function of the governments’ Nordic policies has diminished.

The parliamentarians in the Council work in committees. According to a decision in Reykjavik in 1995, the entire committee system was redesigned to be more modern. From five specialist committees (legal, cultural, social and environmental policy, traffic engineering and economics) plus one budget committee, only three committees were reduced. But the new system with the Nordic Committee, the Neighborhood Committee and the European Committee did not last long, and since 2000 it has returned to the specialized committees again. With the new arrangement in 1995, the goal was introduced that the committees would work with “Nordic benefit” in mind. That ambition has been allowed to live on. The goal was disputed but provided a long-desired opportunity to justify the closure of a number of institutions without relevance to cooperation between the countries.

The discussion on the division of committees continues. It is largely a matter of making better use of the competence of parliamentarians. A broad Swedish requirement is that parliamentarians should monitor the same issues in the Nordic committees as in the national ones.

A control committee reviews all activities that are financed with Nordic budget funds.

The Plenary Assembly is the Nordic Council’s highest decision-making body. Only members of parliament and their deputies have the right to vote in voting. In order for a decision to be taken, at least half of the members present must vote in favor of the proposal, which has been prepared in one of the committees. Between sessions, the Presidium of the Nordic Council decides. It is chaired by a president and a maximum of twelve other parliamentarians appointed by the plenary assembly.

The Bureau has its own secretariat, which in the 1990’s was moved from Stockholm to the Nordic Council of Ministers’ building in Copenhagen. In connection with the move, the staff was radically reduced. So far, it has been pointed out that this is not a matter of merging the secretariats of parliamentarians and ministers, but of two parallel activities. Strong forces, however, question the difference between the Nordic bodies, as it leads to duplication of work and internal disputes.

The concentration of the Council’s management in the Danish capital and a reduced presence in other member states have led to reduced interest and a lack of knowledge about Nordic co – operation among ordinary Nordic citizens. The popular support is difficult to maintain. Important links are still the Nordic houses in all the Nordic countries and the information activities Hallå Norden, which coexist with the Nordic Association in its premises in central Stockholm. One problem is the difficulty of recruiting young people interested in the Nordic countries. Attempts have been made to attract young people with travel and education programs. The Council has long demanded that the Nordic upper secondary education be harmonized in order to facilitate studies in neighboring countries. For some years now, instead of the countries having to accept each other’s courses, they have been working.

Nordic Council