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September 22, 2006

Northern dimension senior officials met in Imatra

Senior Officials from the EU member states and the Commission, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation met in Imatra on 22 September. Also representatives from some EU institutions, international financing institutions and the northern regional councils - the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Nordic Council of Ministers - took part in the meeting. This was the second Senior Officials Meeting, that took place under the current Second Action Plan (2004-2006); the previous one was held in Brussels in autumn 2004. The meeting gathered around 60 senior officials from the different countries and institutions. It was part of the official
Finnish EU presidency programme. It was chaired by Under-Secretary of State, Mr Pekka Huhtaniemi,from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

The meeting discussed shortly the implementation of the Second Northern Dimension Action Plan (2004-2006). The main focus of the meeting was, however, on the new Northern Dimension policy. Guidelines for the new policy were agreed upon at the Northern Dimension Ministerial Meeting last year in Brussels. The Senior Officials now concluded the work ona draft framework document for the new Northern Dimension policy and discussed its implementation in the future. The next step will be to prepare a political declaration, that will accompany the framework document.

The biggest change, compared to the prevailing policy, will be that the Northern Dimension policy in the future will not only be a part of external policies of the EU, but a common policy of four equal partners - the EU, Iceland, Norway and Russia. The contents will be closely linked to the agreed cooperation sectors between the EU and Russia, the Four Common Spaces, with the addition of the specific questions and challenges of the North.

The aim of the EU, Iceland, Norway and Russia is that the endorsement of the new policy could take place this autumn, during the Finnish EU presidency. For this purpose a high level Northern Dimension meeting is planned to take place back-to-back with the EU-Russia Summit in Helsinki on 24 November.

The new Northern Dimension Policy Framework Document is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2007. It will replace earlier action plans and remain valid until further notice.

For further information
On behalf of the Presidency, Director Maimo Henriksson tel. +358 40 527 3821
On behalf of Iceland, Ambassador Hannes Heimisson tel. +358 50 440 8037
On behalf of Norway, Senior Adviser Dag Briseid tel. +47 22 24 3736
On behalf of the Russian Federation, Deputy Director
General Michael Evdokimov and Head of Unit Dmitry Polyanskiy
tel. +42 3 663 123 995

www.formin.finland.fi


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