Nordic co-operation has a special position in Finnish international co-operation policies. Finland is represented in the cultural and educational committees, working groups and steering groups responsible to the Nordic Council of Ministers, and participates in the Nordic Cultural Fund, which is administered by the Secretariat of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen. Finland has bilateral Cultural Funds with all the other Nordic countries: Iceland (1974), Norway (1979), Sweden (1960) and Denmark (1981). These cultural funds are administered by the Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre at Hanasaari (Helsinki). The Ministry of Education and Culture allocates the Finnish share of funds for Nordic co-operation. In the field of cultural policy Finland has emphasized mobility of artists and cultural workers, as well as the role of creative industries in overall economic development of the region.
In their cooperation, the Nordic countries highlight cultural exchanges, the visibility of Nordic countries and their cultures in Europe, and cooperation with neighbouring areas. These activities are underpinned by the Cultural Agreement signed by all the five Nordic countries.
The focus in Nordic cooperation is shifting to multiannual projects. New forms of action are also being sought in the mobility and residence programmes.
The Nordic Council of Ministers is a central platform for cultural co-operation in the Nordic countries. The activities of the Council of Ministers in the field of culture have ramifications in other areas of formal and informal Nordic co-operation, both in and outside the Nordic region.
The Nordic Ministers of Culture adopted a new strategy for Nordic cultural co-operation 2013-2020 on 31 October 2012. The strategy emphasises five topics: the Sustainable Nordic Region, the Creative Nordic Region, the Inter-cultural Nordic Region, the Young Nordic Region and the Digital Nordic Region. The new strategy is supplemented each year by a Presidency Programme for the Culture sector. Finland is the President of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2016. The programme, called Water, nature and people, was prepared in 2015 and includes a separate sector programme for culture. The culture programme emphasises the digital, intercultural, sustainable and creative aspects of Nordic co-operation. Also a seminar titled Re-shaping cultural policies organized in the programme, organized in co-operation with the UNESCO as a side event to UNESCO World Press Freedom Day conference. Its objective was to increase awareness of the significance of cultural freedom of expression’s diversity in sustainable development and cultural expression in the Nordic countries and discuss how these could be utilised in the implementation of the UN’s new action programme of sustainable development (Agenda 2030).
A declaration of the Nordic Ministers of Culture on the promotion of the diversity of cultural expression:
Nordic co-operation promotes Nordic and regional interests and values in a globalised world.
The total annual budget for the Nordic Council is about DKK 33 million and the budget for the Nordic Council of Ministers is approx. DKK 955 million.