Cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region was launched in 1993 on two levels: intergovernmental Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) and interregional Barents Regional Council (BRC). The overall objective of Barents cooperation has been sustainable development.
The members of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the European Commission. The chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council rotates between Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Sweden holds the chairmanship for the period 2017-2019.
Fourteen counties or similar sub-national entities form the Barents Regional Council. Finnmark, Norway, is the chair of the BRC for the period 2017-2019.
The two councils have established thematic Working Groups, both independently and jointly. The Working Groups constitute a cross-border platform for exchange for the civil servants and professionals of the respective field. Over the past years, the Working Groups have also implemented several projects.
The representatives of the three indigenous peoples, the Sámi, the Nenets and the Vepsians, cooperate in the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples (WGIP). It has an advisory role in both the BEAC and the BRC which means that their participation is welcome in all Barents Working Groups, that the WGIP Chair is a member of the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) and the Barents Regional Committee, and that they are always represented at the BEAC Ministerial Sessions and the Barents Regional Council meetings. All three indigenous peoples of the Barents Region can participate individually in the CSO meetings, without a formal invitation.