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Barents Euro-Arctic Council

The Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) works under the Trio Presidency of Finland, Sweden and Norway in 2024. Finland held the Presidency of the Council from 2021 to 2023. Finland also chaired the Joint Working Group on Health and Related Social Issues (JWGHS) of the Council in 2022–2023. The Working Group is currently chaired by Norway.

The aim of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council was to promote stability and sustainable development in the Barents region, which covers the northern parts of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. However, Barents cooperation with Russia was suspended immediately following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Russia withdrew from the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in September 2023.

Under the Finnish Presidency, a new cooperation programme was prepared, in the changed circumstances, for the Joint Working Group on Health and Related Social Issues for the period 2024–2027. The programme was adopted in Oulu in December 2023. The priority areas of cooperation are:

  • developing preparedness, for example, by using new technology and methods in healthcare in sparsely populated areas
  • supporting children and young people who are in danger of social exclusion 
  • developing new approaches to preventing diseases and promoting health particularly within the context of cross-border cooperation.

Russia’s withdrawal from the Council provides an opportunity to further deepen cooperation between the northern regions of the Nordic countries. The Working Group and the whole Council continue their work especially between Finland, Sweden and Norway but also between Denmark, Iceland and the EU.

Further information

Päivi Karvinen, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, International Affairs Unit (KVY) Telephone:0295163196   Email Address: