The Barents Regional Council
At the same time as the Barents Euro-Arctic Council was established in 1993 by the signing of the Kirkenes Declaration, the regional representatives, together with the indigenous peoples signed a cooperation protocol that established the Regional Council with the same objectives as the Barents Euro-Arctic Council - to support and promote cooperation and development in the Barents Region. This agreement determines the structure and the general aims of the regional co-operation.
The Barents Region includes the following counties or their equivalents:
|Norway||Finnmark, Troms and Nordland|
|Russia||Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Nenets, Komi and Karelia|
|Finland||Lappland, Oulu and Kainuu|
|Sweden||Norbotten and Västerbotten|
The establishment of a separate forum for the inter-regional Barents cooperation is an acknowledgement of the importance of local knowledge, the ability to identify the most urgent priorities and the capacity to carry out implementation in the Region.
Initially, the Barents Region consisted of seven member counties, but already in April 1993 the Republic of Karelia in Russia joined the cooperation. An increasing interest in the benefits of regional cooperation and the potentials of the northern regions followed. The Barents Region gradually expanded and with the adherence of the Russian Republic of Komi on 1 January, 2002, the Region now consists of 13 member counties and a representative of the indigenous peoples.
The Chairmanship of the Barents Council alternates between its 13 member counties every second year. The Regional Council meets two to three times a year. The Region Council’s meetings are prepared by the Regional Committee, which consists of civil servants from the member county administrations and the Barents Secretariat in Kirkenes.
The Barents Programme is the framework for cooperation where the priority areas of work are identified. The Programme is a basis for Annual Plans where the priorities are concretised into aims, activities, time schedules and county/ies in charge. Both the Barents Programme and the Annual Plans are submitted to the Regional Council for approval. In spring 2003 a «Barents 2010» INTERREG-project was granted financial support and will identify, and finance, activities for the coming years.
In order to deepen and concretise the co-operation the Regional Council has established Working Groups in priority areas of work. At present there are six thematic working groups within the following areas; Information Technology, Communication, Culture, Environment,Youth and Education. Together with the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples, which has an advisory role to both the Regional Council and to the Barents Euro-Arctic Council , there are altogether seven Working Groups reporting to the Barents Regional Council.