August 22, 2018

Nordic-Baltic visions for Europe: Does the EU unite or divide the Nordic-Baltic region?

Arno Mikkor / Energia avastuskeskus

A conference organized by the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute/ International Centre for Defence and Security, in cooperation with Representation of the European Commission in Estonia and Friedrich Ebert Foundation

Dates: 6-7 September 2018

Place: Conference Dinner in the evening of 6 September 2018 at Kadriorg Art Museum; Conference on 7 September at Energy Discovery Centre, Tallinn

Countries in the Nordic-Baltic region represent a broad spectrum of policies and views on the EU. Occasionally these translate into jointly pursued positions; more often, close regional interaction merely mounts to coordination. Further differentiation within the EU seems to increase the diversity of Nordic and Baltic positions vis à vis the EU. On the other hand, internal divisions within the EU and notably the Brexit process have sparked new dynamics to regional cooperation on European matters, even inspiring talk about a Hanseatic League 2.0.

The conference will discuss the Nordic-Baltic perspectives on key issues on the EU’s agenda and highlight future challenges and goals for regional coordination and cooperation in the EU framework. Looking at different policy areas, it will aim, on the one hand, to identify (potential) shared interests and ways to promote them, and on the other hand, explore disagreements among the Nordic-Baltic members of the EU. The discussions will feed into an EFPI/ICDS Report on the topic.


Panels can be watched here and pictures of the day are available here.

Key takeaways from the conference are available here.





6 September:

19:00 Conference dinner with keynote speech by Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Location: Kadriorg Art Museum, Weizenbergi 37, Tallinn


7 September:

Location: Energy Discovery Centre, Põhja pst 29, Tallinn


9.00 – 9.15

Introduction by Kristi Raik, Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, ICDS

Opening speech by the Foreign Minister of Estonia, Sven Mikser


9.15 – 10.45 Session I: Institutions, Unity and Differentiation

What are the positions of Nordic and Baltic member states in the on-going debates about the future of the EU and its institutional reform? What is the impact of differentiated integration in Europe on the Nordic-Baltic region? How to strike a balance between unity and efficiency of the Union? How to advance openness, transparency and e-governance as shared Nordic-Baltic themes in the EU?



Katarina Engberg, Senior Advisor, Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies

Matti Maasikas, Undersecretary for European Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia

Ilze Rūse, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Latvia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Marlene Wind, Director, Centre of European Politics and Professor, University of Copenhagen

Chair: Steven Blockmans, Senior Research Fellow and Head of EU Foreign Policy Unit, Centre for European Policy Studies


10.45 – 11.15 Coffee break


11.15 – 12.45 Session II: Markets, Money and Welfare

How does the evolving Eurozone impact the Nordic-Baltic region? What are the Nordic and Baltic member states’ views on the EU’s social agenda? How to deal with globalization and the subsequent protectionist backlash? What is the contribution of EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region to regional growth?



Karlis Bukovskis, Deputy Director, Latvian Institute of International Affairs

Nele Eichhorn, Member of Cabinet, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström, European Commission

Andres Kuningas, Head of European Union and International Affairs Department, Ministry of Finance of Estonia

Ramūnas Vilpišauskas, Director, Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University

Chair: Keit Kasemets, Head of Representation in Estonia, European Commission


12.45 – 14.00 Lunch


14.00 – 15.30 Session III: Internal and External Security

What are the Nordic and Baltic member states’ positions on deepening cooperation in the field of security and defence? How does the EU contribute to regional security, including energy security? How to engage the UK in the EU’s security and defence policy and regional security after Brexit?



Riina Kionka, Chief Foreign Policy Advisor of European Council President Donald Tusk

Hanna Ojanen, Adjunct Professor (Docent), University of Helsinki

Pernille Rieker, Research Professor, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Margarita Šešelgytė, Associate Professor, Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University

Chair: Johannes Tralla, journalist, Estonian Public Broadcasting


15.30 – 16.00 Conclusions and way ahead



Steven Blockmans, Head of EU Foreign Policy Unit, Centre for European Policy Studies

Keit Kasemets, Head of Representation in Estonia, European Commission

Johannes Tralla, Journalist, Estonian Public Broadcasting

Chair: Kristi Raik, Director, Estonian Foreign Policy Institute/ICDS


The programme may be subject to change. Attendance at this event is by invitation only.

In case of question, please contact Piret Kuusik via 


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