Nordic Defence Cooperation 2020

We the Nordic Ministers of Defence strongly believe that deepened and strengthened Nordic defence cooperation will create opportunities for our respective countries to develop, maintain and use our military means more efficiently and in a more cost-effective manner. Despite different security affiliations there is substantial potential for further developing Nordic Defence Cooperation, which complements efforts in other international forums such as the UN, NATO and the EU.

 As stated in the Memorandum of Understanding on Nordic Defence Cooperation in 2009, the purpose and objective of the Nordic defence cooperation is to strengthen the Nordic countries’ national defence, explore common synergies and facilitate efficient common solutions. An active Nordic cooperation and close security dialogue contribute also to global peace and security.

The following vision for the Nordic defence cooperation was adopted at the Nordic Defence Ministerial in Helsinki on the 4th of December, 2013. This vision will form the basis for the political guidance of the Nordic defence cooperation as we move towards 2020.

 “By 2020 we envision an enhanced political and military dialogue on security and defence issues and actively seek for new possibilities for cooperation. We create efficient and cost-effective solutions based on a shared understanding of our mutual potential and challenges. We are committed to enhanced cooperation and coordination in capability development and armaments cooperation. We coordinate activities in international operations and capacity building, human resources, education, training and exercises. We seek to increase pooling of capabilities and to deepen cooperation in the area of life-cycle support of our defence inventories.”

Facing common challenges and building smart solutions


The Nordic countries share common history, culture and geography. Our societies are founded on and guided by the same basic values – democracy and respect for human rights. The Nordic countries have a common interest in close cooperation to promote our security and defence and in addressing emerging threats and maintaining international peace and stability. The unpredictability and complexity of the future security environment, combined with economical austerity, will affect the Nordic countries individually, as neighbours and as a part of the wider international community.

The Nordic countries continue to seek possibilities for deeper regional and multinational cooperation with other countries and organisations, such as the UN, NATO and the EU. Close cooperation with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania continues to be important. Nordic cooperation is open to other third parties in selected activities based on mutual interests, operational output and cost-effectiveness.

Even though the Nordic countries have different membership obligations in NATO and in the EU, the Nordic cooperation can strengthen our respective countries’ defence. Through close dialogue and cooperation, we improve situational awareness and common understanding of the security situation, exchange best practices and share lessons learned. We share the ambition to maintain effective and capable defence forces that protect and secure our respective societies. Nordic defence cooperation is flexible, pragmatic and transparent. 

Using the capabilities we have and developing the capabilities we need

By 2020 transparency, consultations and coordination in planning for contributing to international operations will be established as routine. We share information of available force assets which facilitates Nordic contributions to international operations carried out by the UN, NATO or the EU.

By 2020 capacity building will be an integrated part of Nordic contributions to international engagements. The Nordic countries will have established a roster of specialists and military advisors to conduct capacity building and security sector reform tasks. The Nordic countries will be able to provide financial, material and advisory support.

Coordinated training and exercise programmes contribute to maintaining and developing capabilities. By 2020 cross-border training and exercises will be conducted on a regular basis among the Nordic countries covering the whole Nordic area. Movement of personnel and material will thereby be facilitated. Cooperation in air and sea surveillance of the Nordic region will be enhanced. Enhanced exchange of surveillance data with the aim of improving situational awareness will be carried out. Nordic countries will also cooperate to develop rapid deployment capabilities to be used for the NATO Response Force and/or the EU Battle Groups.

By 2020 the Nordic countries will have deepened their capability cooperation with the aim to increase systems similarity, including armaments, interoperability and shared solutions to identified capability gaps and shortfalls. Possibilities for pooling of capabilities and resources will be actively sought and the principles created for Nordic Tactical Air Transport (NORTAT) will serve as an example also for other cooperation areas. Joint Nordic acquisition will be enabled by the establishment of common processes and routines. We have established an ongoing close dialogue with the Nordic defence industry. 

By 2020 the Nordic countries will work closely together through enhanced cooperation on military education and training. We build on experiences from the division of labour in conducting Nordic courses and the Nordic Centre for Gender. We also assess possibilities to establish Nordic combined education and competence centres.

The Nordic countries will exchange experiences on policies and procedures and coordinate efforts regarding veterans care. 

By 2020 secure lines of communication for the exchange of classified information will be established between the Nordic defence administrations based on a common Nordic analysis.

By 2020 dialogue and consultations between the Nordic capitals regarding security and defence issues will be regular. Transparency, information exchange and coordination in long-term capability development will be well established. National procedures, rules and regulations will be streamlined as much as possible and obstacles removed in order to enhance Nordic defence cooperation. 

We will continue to be open to explore and adopt new beneficial possibilities for cooperation which may emerge.


The Nordic Ministers of Defence

At the Nordic Defence Ministerial in Helsinki on the 4th of December, 2013.