Today in Helsinki, the heads of government of Nordic and Baltic countries, i.e. NB8, discussed common regional concerns regarding security, energy markets, and hybrid threats, as well as European Union policies, trans-Atlantic relations, and cooperation within the UN.
The meeting focused on regional security and cooperation, as well as on topics ranging from military exercises and cyber threats to the energy infrastructure.
“The cooperation of Estonia and the Nordic countries in various international associations is increasingly growing, both in the field of hybrid threats and cybersecurity. Cyber threats and attacks do not discriminate between state borders, which is why these need to be handled globally. We need to ensure a faster and more extensive information exchange,” said Prime Minister Ratas.
“I am glad that Norway has recently decided to join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn; we are currently discussing the participation of other Nordic countries. The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats has recently begun operating in Helsinki. At the centre, the combination of security threats is analysed, including the impact of disinformation on democratic processes. Estonia, along with several European countries and the USA, is one of the founders of the centres of excellence,” added Ratas.
At the meeting, Prime Minister Ratas gave an overview of the progress of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the heads of government of the Baltic and Nordic countries and the participants discussed their expectations for the last two months of the Estonian Presidency.
“All European Union leaders have streamlined the developments of digital. There is no going back to paper now. The commitment to the development of a 5G network in Tallinn and the Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment are only some of the examples of the accomplishments made thus far. We can move forward quickly now, as authorities, entrepreneurs, and people trust the digital developments thanks to the fact that we also pay great attention to cybersecurity,” said Ratas.
The Prime Minister also emphasised the signing of the European Pillar of Social Rights at the Social Summit taking place in Gothenburg, Sweden on 17 November. “One of the most important tasks of the European Union is improving the welfare of people as well as protecting their rights and freedoms. This is why the unanimous endorsement of the European Pillar of Social Rights is of symbolic significance and I am proud to sign it in the name of 28 European Union member states,” said Ratas.
The Prime Minister called upon his Nordic and Baltic colleagues to bear in mind the Eastern Partners of the European Union. “The security, economic growth, and well-being of our Eastern Partners also help ensure a stronger Europe, which is why the European Union must support them. We need joint activities that visibly and tangibly improve the everyday lives of people. I expect courage, resolution, and ambition from all of my colleagues at the Eastern Partnership summit taking place in Brussels on 24 November,” said Ratas.
The prime ministers of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia meet every autumn during the session of the Nordic Council, or what is also known as the Nordic summit.
According to Prime Minister Ratas, the 8 countries share the same values, strategic interests, and challenges. “The cooperation between Nordic and Baltic countries is becoming increasingly common and practical, especially in the fields of energy, transport, and information technology,” said Ratas.
The heads of government, ministers, presidents of parliaments, representatives, officials, and specialists of the Nordic and Baltic countries have cooperated since 1992. As regional relations are tight, no independent organisation has been established for the cooperation of NB8, but rather, each year, it is decided which country leads the cooperation. This year, the NB8 cooperation is led by Norway.
Before today’s meeting with the heads of government of Nordic and Baltic countries, Prime Minister Ratas met with Estonian pupils and teachers in Helsinki and visited the Estonian House, which is home to the Tuglas Society, the Estonian Institute, an office of Enterprise Estonia, and the Union of Estonian Societies in Finland.