This year, Estonia is coordinating two cooperation formats of the Nordic-Baltic region: the Nordic-Baltic 8 (NB8) and the Baltic intergovernmental cooperation format (Baltic Council of Ministers or 3B).
NB8 countries are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden.
“The countries of the Nordic-Baltic region are Estonia’s closest neighbors. We share their values, we have a common history and culture, and we have the experience of long-time cooperation. We also share the challenges the region is facing,” Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said. For example, during its chairmanship of NB8 and 3B, Estonia would like to focus, above all, on regional security, including the Eastern Partnership, as well as transatlantic relations and cyber cooperation.
“We have similar views on solving security issues and we are increasingly cooperating on defense, both bilaterally, regionally, in the EU and NATO and in broader formats,” Reinsalu said. In addition to security issues, Estonia’s chairmanship priorities include connectivity, including regional energy and infrastructure projects, and digital cooperation. “Only a few weeks ago, gas began moving through the Balticconnector that launched the joint gas market of Estonia, Latvia and Finland and where gas can move without transmission tariffs. The gas market of Estonia, Latvia and Finland is Europe’s first market area of its kind involving three countries, however, work towards developing the regional gas market continues,” the minister said. “We are also working together towards synchronizing the electricity grids of the Baltic States with the electric system of mainland Europe by 2025, which would significantly improve energy security.”
Estonia’s chairmanship priorities also include climate change and environmental issues. “Here, too, the Nordic countries and the Baltic States have many opportunities for cooperation, such as developing cross-border renewable energy projects,” Reinsalu said. Estonia also wishes to advance Nordic-Baltic cooperation in culture and healthcare.