Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2008

A Security and Stability in Northern Europe -- A Threat Assesment

Jochen Prantl

April 2000

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


The accession of Finland and Sweden as well as the ongoing enlargement process, which offers the perspective of EU membership to the Baltic States, has put the question of security and stability in Northern Europe on the Agenda of the European Union.

The Northern region is at the crossroads of the relations between the EU and Russia. Although the successor state of the Soviet Union is still an ambitious power with quite a considerable military potential it hardly poses – at the moment – a serious hard security threat in the region. However, there is still a residual security threat, especially when looking at Russia’s future political development, which has a considerable potential of destabilising the overall security situation in the North.

Consequently, today’s problems in Northern Europe are more of a non-military nature, which result, on the one hand, from the yet unfinished economic and societal transformation in various Baltic Sea States. On the other, they are the legacy of the demise of the Soviet empire. These problems concern, for instance, nuclear safety, including the treatment of nuclear fuels and waste, minority issues, water pollution, narcotics trade, international organised crime like penetration of state structures by trans-national criminal organisations, corruption and fraud within state administrations, or disparities of living standards in general. To tackle the whole spectrum of those multi-faceted (soft) security risks the European Union needs to find more effective responses.

The international research programme on the Northern Dimension of the CFSP, jointly conducted by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (Helsinki/Finland) and the Institut für Europäische Politik (Bonn and Berlin/Germany) aims at promoting the awareness of those issues within the European Union by analysing the current situation and projecting some scenarios as well as policy advice for the future.