Barents Euro-Arctic Council: Foreign Ministers´ Meeting in Oulu 14-15 March 2000

A meeting of the foreign ministers of the member countries of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council took place in Oulu, Finland, on 14-15 March, 2000, at the end of Finland´s term as President of the Council. The Finnish delegation at the meeting was led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Erkki Tuomioja.

During Finland´s presidency cooperation in the Barents region extended into new areas. These included cooperation on issues concerning young people and forestry, the latter being an area which has traditionally received Finnish economic support. The forestry initiative generated through Barents regional cooperation is a good example of a project implemented within the sphere of the Northern Dimension.

The discussions at the meeting also covered the potential of Barents regional cooperation for the development of the Northern Dimension.

Environmental issues have always been an important part of Barents regional cooperation. During the meeting it was emphasised that negotiations for an international agreement on cooperation concerning the Russian nuclear power industry should be concluded as soon as possible.

In addition to forestry issues, the discussions on economic cooperation covered investment projects, the removal of barriers to trade particularly where these are linked to border crossing formalities, as well as the investment climate in the Barents region.

Energy issues and the development of transport connections have also been key areas of cooperation. Their significance touches the entire scope of the Northern Dimension.

Barents regional cooperation already has an established position in Europe´s northern areas. The members of the Council are the Nordic countries and Russia. Also participating actively in the work of the Council are the EU Commission and nine observer states.