February 4, 2021

Under Pressure: Nordic-Baltic Cooperation During the COVID-19 Crisis

Odd Andersen / AFP / Scanpix
Trucks are stuck in a traffic jam stretching more than 65 km towards Berlin from the German-Polish border near the eastern German town of Frankfurt (Oder) due to travel restrictions to counteract the spread the new corounavirus COVID-19 on March 18, 2020.
Trucks are stuck in a traffic jam stretching more than 65 km towards Berlin from the German-Polish border near the eastern German town of Frankfurt (Oder) due to travel restrictions to counteract the spread the new corounavirus COVID-19 on March 18, 2020.

Spring 2020 posed a test to the regional cooperation of the Nordic-Baltic region.

The results are a mixed bag.

  • Poland’s strict closure of borders and subsequent behaviour reminded that even with close partners, cooperation may fail in a time of crisis.
  • Alternately, teamwork with the three Baltic states was successful, relying on personal connections and ad hoc arrangements.
  • Disagreements among the Nordic countries on how to tackle the virus and further bitter exchanges came as a surprise and affected the Nordic-Baltic cooperation.
  • Overall, the crisis showed that close relations among neighbours continue to be most important instrument in the foreign policy toolbox that small and medium sized states have.

This analysis was written in conjunction with a study ordered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. The report Corona Crisis and Challenges to the Estonian Foreign Policy was written by Kristi Raik (ed.), Piret Kuusik, Maili Vilson, Frank Jüris and is available in Estonian.

Download and read: Under Pressure: Nordic-Baltic Cooperation During the COVID-19 Crisis (PDF)