The history of the Barents cooperation
The prologue of the cooperation in the Barents/Euro-Arctic region was the foreign policy proposals of the Secretary General of the CPSU Mikhail Gorbachev, that were made on the 1st of October in Murmansk (the so-called Murmansk initiatives).
The initiators of the establishment of the organization of the cooperation in the Arctic region were Norway and Russia.
On the 8th of March of 1992, in Oslo, the foreign ministers of Russia and Norway signed a joint Protocol on the working program of contacts and cooperation. There was emphasized the desire to develop economic cooperation between the Northern regions of the two countries.

On the 24th of April of 1992, in Troms, the minister of foreign affairs of Norway Thorvald Stoltenberg first introduced the concept of "Barents region" into the political lexicon.

Thanks to the efforts of the specially established working group and with the support of regional and federal authorities, primarily the foreign ministers of Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland, on the 11th of January of 1993, in Kirkenes in Norway, the Declaration of Cooperation in the Barents/Euro-Arctic region was signed.
The Kirkenes declaration of 1993 became the document where "The Barents cooperation" concept was formulated.
The BEAC chairmanship is carried out on a voluntary rotational basis.
The declared goal of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) is to promote sustainable development of the region, bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, science and technology, environment, infrastructure, education and cultural exchanges, tourism, as well as realization of projects aimed at improving the situation of the indigenous population of the North.

BEAC meets annually at the level of foreign Ministers. Decisions on the activities of the organization are taken by the Council by consensus.

Under the aegis of the BEAC, a Regional Council is functioning, which includes the heads of the administrative units forming the Barents region: from Russia - Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions, Nenets Autonomous District, republic of Karelia, and since January of 2002 also republic of Komi; from Norway - county Nurlann, Finnman and Troms; from Sweden - Lena Norrbotten Västerbotten; and from Finland - governorate of Lappi (since 2010 - province of Lappi) and the unions of communes of Kanuu and Northern Ostrobothnia, as well as the representatives of the indigenous population of the region.

One of the regions chairs the Council on a two-year rotational basis. The regional Council develops the so-called "Barents cooperation program". The Program includes projects in the following main areas: the development of industry and infrastructure, human resource development and education, environmental protection and health protection, well-being and culture, indigenous peoples.
The working body of the BEAC is the Committee of senior officials, which consists of representatives of foreign ministers of the member States and observers of the BEAC.
The BEAC has working groups on economic cooperation, ecology, energy, Northern Sea route, youth policy.
The Committee of senior officials prepares the Ministerial sessions, carries out the ongoing activities of the BEAC, oversees the working groups of the Council.

Under the auspices of the working group on the economic cooperation, there are task forces on trade barriers and forestry.

The BEAC's cooperation with the Barents regional Council also includes joint working groups on culture, health and related social issues, energy, education and research, and tourism.