The Barents Euro-Arctic Council
The cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (BEAR) was launched in 1993 when all five Nordic Countries, the Russian Federation and the EU Commission signed a Declaration establishing the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) at a Foreign Minister’s Conference in Kirkenes, Norway. At the same time the Barents region’s county governors together with the representatives of indigenous peoples signed a cooperation protocol establishing the Barents Regional Council (BRC). Thus the cooperation in the region of the Barents Sea was set off on two levels: the BEAC is a forum for intergovernmental cooperation and the BRC is a forum for cooperation between the 13 regions of the Member States.
The overarching aim of the Barents Cooperation is to develop the region both socially and economically and to increase the region’s competitiveness in Europe. Cohesion, good governance and sustainable growth of the region are issues regularly discussed at political level and they are promoted through sector projects and activities usually conducted under the working groups. In addition to the multilateral cooperation, there are many bilateral arrangements in the region. One of the aims of the cooperation is to closely follow EU’s Arctic Policy and the Northern Dimension partnership and other relevant programs. The secretariat is located in Kirkenes (Norway).