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               Programme for the 
Finnish Presidency of the EU 


Russia and the NIS countries

 The Common Strategy on Russia adopted by the Cologne European Council provides a comprehensive approach to future Union-Russian relations. A work programme to be drafted by the Finnish Presidency will aim to strengthen the foundations of democracy and market economy in Russia and increase cooperation between the Union and Russia in fields such as common foreign and security policy. At the same time, Presidency will work to advance the implementation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the Union and Russia in order to strengthen economic, technical and political ties.

 Following the European Council decision, the preparations for a common strategy on Ukraine have been launched. Implementation of the partnership and cooperation agreement signed with Ukraine will continue in different component areas. The related work programme must be fully implemented.

 The TACIS regulation currently under preparation is due to be approved before the present regulation's validity runs out at the end of the year.

 The Northern Dimension

 Promoting the new Union policy of a Northern Dimension will be an important objective for the Finnish Presidency. The aim is to get the Northern Dimension concept firmly incorporated into the external relations of an enlarging Union, especially with regard to Russia and the Baltic region. The Northern Dimension policy supplements and supports the Union's Common Strategy on Russia as regards northern Europe.

 In November, Finland and the European Commission will be organising a conference at foreign minister level which will offer an opportunity for political discussions on the content of the Northern Dimension between EU Member States and partners in the Northern Dimension - Iceland, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Estonia. 

 During the Finnish Presidency, active support will be given to the Commission's work to make the Northern Dimension concept more concrete and to implement the Commission communication and Council recommendations. In accordance with the Presidency Conclusions of the Cologne European Council, the Helsinki European Council will study the possibility of drawing up an Action Plan.