Nordic cooperation

Nordic cooperation participants include Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, and Åland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

The vision of the Nordic countries is to make the Nordic Region the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. The vision will be realised by focusing on three strategic priorities: a green Nordic Region, a competitive Nordic Region and a socially sustainable Nordic Region. 

The Nordic Council of Ministers is an intergovernmental cooperation body consisting of ministers and senior officials representing the Nordic governments. The overall responsibility in the Nordic Council of Ministers lies with the Prime Ministers.

In practice, the responsibility is delegated to the Ministers for Nordic Cooperation and the Nordic Committee for Cooperation, which coordinates the day-to-day work of Nordic intergovernmental cooperation. The Secretariat of the Nordic Council of Ministers is based in Copenhagen.

The Nordic Council of Ministers consists of several councils of ministers. Issues that fall under the administrative sector of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health include:

  • social welfare and health
  • gender equality, sexual minorities and gender minorities
  • occupational health and safety
  • food.

The aim of Nordic cooperation in the field of social welfare and health is to promote:

  • the equal treatment of citizens
  • solidarity in society
  • the availability of basic services
  • service quality and safety

Norway holds the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2022. The themes of Norway’s Presidency in the area of social welfare and healthcare in 2022 include preparedness for health threats, the security of supply, use of data in the field of health, the development of data in the post-pandemic world, remote healthcare, pediatric medicines, the quality of life of elderly LGBTI people, and research on young people and marginalisation. 

The aim of cooperation in the field of equality is to promote:

  • equality and equal treatment in the Nordic societies
  • the equal sharing between women and men of the responsibility for care, power and opportunities to exercise influence
  • the realisation of equal rights, obligations and opportunities for women and men in all areas of society and in all life stages
  • the eradication of gender-based violence
  • the active participation of men in promoting equality 

The official Nordic gender equality cooperation has been working for over 40 years to 
make the Nordic region one of the most gender equal regions in the 
world. In 2020, the cooperation was formally extended to include the 
prevention of marginalisation, promotion of inclusion, and strengthening of the active citizenship 
of homosexual, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in the Nordic 
societies.

The themes of Norway’s Presidency regarding LGBTI issues in 2022 include promoting Nordic views on equality and LGBTI rights in international arenas through actions including the Generation Equality campaign, the Feminist action for climate justice commitment and the preparation of a Nordic Roadmap against anti-genderism. Under Norway’s leadership, discussions will be held during the year on the relationship between climate, environmental and equality issues, violence against women, and equality in working life. 

Cooperation in the field of social welfare and health is coordinated by the Nordic Council of Ministers for Health and Social Affairs. Cooperation on equality, sexual minorities and gender minorities (LGBTI issues) is coordinated by the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality and LGBTI.

Nordic agreements

Nordic social security and social service agreements have been drafted in cooperation between the Nordic countries. The agreements facilitate the free movement of Nordic citizens in the region.

The agreement on a common Nordic labour market for certain personnel groups in the healthcare and veterinary sectors facilitates the exchange of data related to the mobility of professionals and patient safety between the Nordic countries.

Under the Nordic Public Health Preparedness Agreement, the Nordic countries have committed to cooperate in providing healthcare and social welfare in case of emergencies and disasters, taking into account their national needs. Among other things, the countries are committed to informing each other of measures taken, developing cooperation in the field, and exchanging information on changes to their preparedness systems. They are also committed to otherwise promoting cooperation by eliminating obstacles included in national legislation, exchanging experiences and engaging in cooperation on training and exercises.

In March 2022, the Nordic ministers for health signed a joint declaration in Stavanger to strengthen health crisis preparedness in the Nordic Region.

Further information

Maria Waltari, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, International Affairs Unit (KVY) 0295163337  


Mia Mäkinen, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, International Affairs Unit (KVY) 0295163075