Nordic Council of Ministers

Danish chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2005

The chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers, including its subcommittees, changes each year in accordance with an agreed plan of rotation. In 2005 it is Denmark’s turn to assume chairmanship and the majority of committees will also have a Danish chairman. Denmark’s membership of the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers includes also the Faeroe Islands and Greenland. It follows that with Denmark in the chair it is possible to elect committee chairmen from these two autonomous regions. Nordbok has therefore chosen Martin Næs from the Faeroe Islands as its chairman for 2005. Martin Næs is director of the Faeroese National Library.
The Danish government has prepared a comprehensive programme entitled The Nordic Countries in a New Era: Knowledge, Dynamics and Cooperation.

The introduction to the programme further defines this title as referring to the need for Nordic cooperation to be dynamic and to address the challenges arising from globalisation. Globalisation is not so much a question of the extent of our participation but rather the manner in which we participate. In many areas cooperation on a Nordic basis can make a valuable contribution to solving the problems of globalisation as they affect the Nordic countries. The Danish chairmanship intends to concentrate on those areas where Nordic collaboration offers a distinct ‘Nordic benefit’, such as lifelong learning, innovation and the development of closer cooperation between research and business and industry. By working together the Nordic countries can achieve much more than would be possible acting individually.

In the chapter dealing with culture the programme places an emphasis on cultural cooperation as representing a vital core area in Nordic collaboration. Particular attention will be paid to two new policy areas – language and music. At the same time priority will continue to be given to the areas concentrated upon by previous chairmanships of recent years, namely ‘The Western Nordic Region’ (Iceland, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands) and ‘Content in the New Media’. The Danish chairmanship is intent on achieving a modernisation of Nordic cultural cooperation.

A strategic plan will be drawn up for joint Nordic cultural activities and a new model will be developed for chairmanship initiatives, emphasis being placed on closer contact between the Council of Ministers as highest political organ, the Council’s secretariat and the Nordic special committees and institutions. These committees and institutions will be given a direct role in carrying out the programme.

One way to implement this new model of collaboration between the Council of Ministers and the special committees would be to give the committees concrete assignments defined at the political level. As previously mentioned, language will be a specific targeted area in 2005. The Danish chairmanship will work to accentuate and highlight the Nordic language community and linguistic understanding.

With reference to this particular programme point the Council of Ministers has asked Nordbok and the Nordic Committee for Children and Young People to collaborate on a project aimed at combining activities and initiatives already under way into one unified, visible programme. The two organisations concerned have received a special grant of DKK 1 mil. to further this project. A joint working group has been established consisting of two members from each body together with the participation of each committee’s secretariat. The working group has until the end of January 2005 to present its proposals as to how the project can best be carried out.

Translated by Eric Deverill

director, Nordbok.