Nordic and regional cooperation
The cornerstone of Nordic cultural, educational and research cooperation is the Cultural Agreement signed by the five Nordic countries in 1971. The Agreement covers the Ministry of Education and Culture sector as a whole: education, research and cultural cooperation.
The Nordic Council of Ministers is a forum for Nordic intergovernmental cooperation. It comprises several individual councils of ministers working within specific policy areas, such as Educational and Research Issues and Cultural Cooperation. Finland is represented on the cultural and educational committees, working groups and steering groups subordinate to the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Finland participates in the Nordic Cultural Fund, which is administered by the Nordic Council of Ministers Secretariat in Copenhagen.
Finland has bilateral Cultural Funds with all the other Nordic countries: Denmark (1981), Iceland (1974), Norway (1979) and Sweden (1960). These cultural funds are administered by the Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre Hanasaari, which is subsidised by the Ministry.
Cooperation in regional councils
There are several bodies which carry out multilateral cooperation in the northern areas, notably the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Council of the Baltic Sea States.
The Arctic Council is a high-level forum primarily focusing on questions relating to the indigenous peoples, the environment, sustainable development and other specialised issues. The Ministry of Education and Culture participates in educational and cultural cooperation within the Arctic Council, including efforts to safeguard the cultural rights of the indigenous peoples and the preservation and development of other minority cultures and languages.
The Arctic Council, which was founded in 1996, has eight states as members: the Nordic countries - Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland - and Canada, the United States and Russia. The indigenous peoples have permanent representatives. There are also several observers: states, international and civic organisations.
The Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) is a forum for intergovernmental cooperation on issues concerning the Barents Region. The focus for the Ministry of Education and Culture is culture and youth.
The Barents Euro-Arctic Council, which was established in 1993, includes the Barents Council, which comprises representatives of the member states' foreign ministries and one representative of the indigenous peoples living in the northernmost parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden and in north-west Russia. The Council has seven members: the Nordic countries and Russia and the European Commission, and nine observer states: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) seeks to boost cooperation around the Baltic Sea in matters relating to the environment, energy, nuclear safety, health, culture and education. This cooperation is epitomised by the Baltic 21 action programme. The Ministry of Education and Culture participates in cultural, youth and educational cooperation in the CBSS. The members of the Council are the 11 states bordering the Baltic Sea (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden) and the European Commission, with France, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States of America as observers.