“Norden” and the Norden Association
Norden is the name for the north European region consisting of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and the three autonomous regions of the Aland Islands, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
Norden has a population of approximately 23 million people. The Nordic co-operation covers a broad field of activities aimed at promoting mutual contacts within the region.
The Norden Associations are the oldest organizations for promoting Nordic co-operation in all fields, officially as well as unofficially. Separate Norden Associations in Denmark, Norway and Sweden were founded in 1919. In 1922, a sister organization was established in Iceland, and in 1924 in Finland. In 1951, a Nordic organization was set up on the Faroe Islands (an autonomous group of islands in the North Atlantic belonging to Denmark), and in 1979, on the Aland islands in the Baltic sea. In 1991 the Norden association was established in Greenland (autonomous part of Denmark).
There are also Norden associations in Russia, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
The Norden Association is a politically independent organization (NGO) with approximately 60 000 members throughout the nordic countries. The Federation of the Norden Associations is the umbrella organization for the Norden Associations.
The aim of the Norden Association is to stimulate and improve Nordic co-operation at all levels, especially in the fields of education, culture, the labour market, industry, mass media, international aid and environmental care.
The Norden Association in Sweden has about 17 000 members. Private persons, organizations, companies, schools and libraries are members of the association. Members are offered different kind of packages, seminars and offers, books, magazines and other material of special nordic interest or concerning nordic issues. Like other interest groups, the Norden Association distribute publications on various themes of Nordic co-operation. The association's own magazine, "Nordens Tidning" informs about actual nordic issues, it is published 4 times/year. The association also publishes a yearbook. The local branches of the association arrange studycircles, seminars, trips, study tours etc, with nordic issues and questions in focus.
The Norden Association works with a broad variety of issues. Policy-making, information, friendship-towns systems, publications and mobilityprojects are important issues to the association. Targetgroups of the mobilityprojects administrated by the association are schools, both teachers and pupils; young people wanting to work in another nordic country: Nordjobb; russian and baltic managers wanting to learn the Swedish way of making business: Nordpraktik.
From an organizational point of view, the Associations wish to act as modern interest groups and are anxious to strengthen Nordic co-operation in all fields. The policy-making function, the ambition to influence the official organs to take the necessary decisions is very important.
Each Norden Association can be pictured as an organizational system consisting of central administrative organs, a network of local branches with individual members and a number of affiliated (organizations) members. The local branches are extremely important. Their function is not only as channels for new ideas on Nordic co- operation but also as agencies for spreading informative material on Nordic affairs produced by the central organs.
The friendship-town system is an important part of Nordic co-operation and has been of significant importance in enabling citizens in the nordic countries to have contact with each other. The Norden Association was in fact first to work with friendship-town programmes.
The Norden Association has its own organization for young people between 16 and 35. The association arranges trips, seminars about nordic topics and nordic events of special interest to young people. Among these events Café Norden is maybe the biggest annual event, with different themes each year. The programme covers interesting seminars and speakers from nordic authorities and companies. The Norden Association for young people have about 8 000 (?) members in the nordic countries.
The Nordic Council and The Nordic Council of Ministers, www.norden.org represent the official nordic co-operation. The Nordic Council was formed in 1952 and is the forum for inter-parliamentary co-operation. The Council has 87 members, representing the five countries and three autonomous territories. The members of the council are members of national parliaments, nominated by their respective political parties and elected by the parliaments. There is no direct election to the Nordic Council. The Nordic Council of Ministers was formed in 1971 and is the forum for inter-governmental co- operation. The work is co-ordinated via the Nordic ministers for co-operation. The composition of the Council of Ministers varies, depending on the nature of the issues to be treated, e.g. culture, education, the environment, etc.
The logotype of the Norden Associations is a symbol for Nordic co-operation. The eight dots represent the five Nordic countries and the three autonomous regions. The globe represents the fact that the co-operation not only serves the Nordic countries, but also serves the interest of peace and justice throughout the whole world.