Nordic Defence Cooperation

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Nordic Defence Cooperation
FormationNovember 4, 2009
TypeInternational organisation

The Nordic Defence Cooperation (Nordefco) is a collaboration among the Nordic countries in the area of defense.[1][2] Its five members are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

The aim of the organization is to strengthen the member countries' defense capabilities by identifying areas for cooperation and to promote effective solutions. The memorandum of understanding was signed in Helsinki on November 4, 2009, succeeding the Nordic Supportive Defence Structures (NORDSUP), the Nordic armaments cooperation (NORDAC) and the Nordic Coordinated Arrangement for Military Peace Support (NORDCAPS), previous parallel cooperative arrangements.[3]

Participation in the NORDEFCO is voluntary and states can choose which areas they want to collaborate within and to what extent. This means that cooperation can occur bilaterally as well as among all five members. It is also considered within the organizational scope to work with non-Nordic countries in fields where there is an added value to doing so. According to the official webpage, the cooperation is based on the conviction that there is much to be gained through cost sharing, joint solutions, and joint actions. However, it also underlines the fact that NORDEFCO is not a military alliance:

The NORDEFCO does not aim for new military or political alliances between the nations. Mutually reinforcing cooperation in capability development can be achieved without negative influence on participating countries' different foreign and security policy orientation and membership obligations in NATO, the EU and the UN. On the contrary, closer practical cooperation in capability development would constitute a supplemental approach in providing the capabilities and forces required by these organisations.[4]


Practical Nordic and Scandinavian defence cooperation has been impeded by their differing memberships:

Sweden and Finland are in the process of joining NATO, and have goals of doing so before June 2022[5]

Membership of the principal European and Western defence arrangements
European Union 
European Union
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation
 Denmark Yes Yes No
 Finland Yes In process of joining Partial
 Iceland No Yes No
 Norway (Partial, non-voting participation in the European Defence Agency of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy) Yes No
 Sweden Yes In process of joining Partial


The official presidency of the organization rotates among the member states, but the Nordic Ministers of Defence are ultimately responsible for NORDEFCO; they meet twice a year. They preside over the Nordic Defence Policy Steering Committee, composed of senior departmental officers from the member countries. Underneath this committee is the Nordic Military Coordination Committee, composed of flag officers who represent the member countries' Chiefs of Defence.

The areas of cooperation (COPAs) are divided into five sections:

  • Strategic Development (COPA SD)
  • Capabilities (COPA CAPA)
  • Human Resources & Education (COPA HR&E)
  • Training & Exercises (COPA TR&EX)
  • Operations (COPA OPS)

These are staffed with senior officers from the participating countries and mandated to further coordinate and implement the given tasks. The recommendations reported back from the COPAs also form the basis for the decisions made by the Nordic Defence Policy Steering Committee and the Nordic Military Coordination Committee.

In addition to the Cooperation Areas, Acquisition & Life Cycle Support (ALCS) is tasked with coordinating and facilitating armaments relating cooperation issues. This is performed through a yearly screening process, where all participating nations provide input from their procurement plans. The plans are compared, screened, and cooperation possibilities, vetted by ALCS, are identified. If considered suitable for further cooperation, established formally as a Subgroup. These Subgroups comprise experts from the participating nations, and are tasked with establishing the foundations for how cooperation can happen; for instance gearing towards a common procurement project. Historically, such cooperation has enabled the Nordic nations to take advantage of upwards of €60 million in cost savings.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Friis, Karsten (2021). "Analyzing Security Subregions: Forces of Push, Pull, and Resistance in Nordic Defense Cooperation". Journal of Global Security Studies. doi:10.1093/jogss/ogab009. ISSN 2057-3170.
  2. ^ Dahl, Ann-Sofie (2021). "Back to the Future: Nordefco's First Decade and Prospects for the Next". Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies. 4 (1): 172–182. doi:10.31374/sjms.85. ISSN 2596-3856.
  3. ^ NORDCAPS: Official homepage Archived 2011-09-21 at the Wayback Machine of the now redundant organization.
  4. ^ NORDEFCO: Official homepage of the organization.
  5. ^ "Finland to apply to NATO 'without delay,' as Sweden mulls stance". ABC News. Retrieved 2022-05-13.

Further reading[edit]