The NB-8 (Nordic–Baltic Eight) format comprises Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. There has been ongoing active cooperation between the Baltic and Nordic countries since early 1990s. Under NB-8, regular meetings are held of the Baltic and Nordic countries' prime ministers, members of parliaments, foreign ministers, secretaries of state and political directors of Foreign Ministries, as well as expert consultations, where regional issues and current international developments are reviewed.
In the early days of Nordic-Baltic cooperation, after the Baltic States had regained their independence, joint activities of the Nordic and Baltic Foreign Ministries were coordinated by the country holding the chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Baltic States have engaged in coordinating the cooperation of the NB-8 Foreign Ministries on an equal footing since 2008. In 2010, for the first time, Latvia coordinated the cooperation among the NB-8 Foreign Ministries. During the year, NB-8 meetings were held at the level of Foreign Ministers, State Secretaries, political directors and others addressing topics on regional and international agendas; a report on Baltic-Nordic cooperation was also produced.
Key purpose for the development of the report was to evaluate the effectiveness of former cooperation between the Baltic and Nordic countries and make recommendations on how to strengthen it. Its authors were high-ranking experts from Latvia and Denmark – Valdis Birkavs, an ex-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Latvia, and Soren Gade, an ex-Minister of Defence of Denmark, both appointed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of NB-8 countries. The report offered the analysis of the current state of affairs and future ambitions of NB-8 cooperation; it also contained 38 recommendations for practical initiatives.
Memorandum of Understanding to share diplomatic premises
One of the measures for implementation of recommendations was the “Memorandum of Understanding on Principles for Locating Diplomats within the Premises of the Parties’ Missions”, signed on 30 August 2011 by the Ministers or Foreign Affairs of Baltic and Nordic countries. The document came into force in 2012. Under the Memorandum, Latvia has strengthened international cooperation and enhanced its own and the region’s representation in third countries by sharing resources and premises.
The NB8 format is coordinated on a rotational basis. In 2023, the NB8 cooperation is coordinated by Latvia. During Latvia’s coordination year work will be divided into three prioritized blocks:
- strengthening rules based international order;
- strengthening military security and deterrence;
- strengthening resilience.
In 2022, the NB8 cooperation was coordinated by Lithuania, 2021 by Finland, 2020 by Estonia.
Latvia has been the coordinator of the NB8 two times – in 2016 and 2010.
The role of NB8 is increasing also in a global aspect. Since 2003, Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (e-PINE) has been active as a framework for consultations between NB8 and the United States. The e-PINE format of meetings is put into practice through organizing regular meetings for 8+1 Foreign Ministry Political Directors and foreign policy experts who discuss topics of current regional and international importance.
The Northern Future Forum
The meeting format of NB8 countries and United Kingdom. The first NFF was held in London on the initiative of the UK Prime Minister David Cameron in January 2011.
NB8+Visegrad Group (V4)
This is a format where Ministers of Foreign Affairs from NB8 countries and Visegrad Group countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) meet. In 2013, those were the Polish Foreign Minister Mr Sikorski and Swedish Foreign Minister Mr Bildt who came up with the idea to have a meeting of both cooperation formats. The meeting is co-organized by the coordinating country of the NB8 and by the country holding the presidency of the V4.