Finland must abide by the EU’s values, the records of the EU Treaty and the government programme and ensure the special status of Eastern and Northern Finland in terms of the allocation criteria of the EU’s Structural Funds. This is the opinion of Päivi Laajala, Mayor of Oulu, Pauli Harju, Region Mayor of Northern Ostrobothnia, and Jouko Niinimäki, Rector of the University of Oulu, in their joint statement published on Tuesday, 25 September.
The special status of Eastern and Northern Finland is based on low population density and the related developmental disparities, which still exist. A majority of the structural funds received by Finland are allocated to Eastern and Northern Finland due to their special status. Without the special status, Finland would not receive these funds.
In the opinion of Päivi Laajala, Pauli Harju and Jouko Niinimäki, the special status must be safeguarded first and foremost because all of Finland benefits from it. Recovery from the coronavirus crisis requires extensive restoration, and Oulu, for example, has international expertise and the appropriate mindset to lead this transformation in Northern Finland while supporting growth in the rest of Finland.
The potential of Eastern and Northern Finland is generated through the dialogue between their central cities and sparsely populated areas. For example, the breakthroughs achieved by the University of Oulu in steel research and the development of mining industry are manifested in sparsely populated areas as cleaner, more efficient and productive industrial activity. The long-term development of digital competence is reflected by world-class exports in ever-increasing new industries, the latest examples of which are welfare technology and digital solutions in the automotive industry. It is not simply about digitalisation. 70% of the new initiatives in Finland’s export industry based on natural resources are pending in Eastern and Northern Finland.
In view of public funding as a whole and taking into account the funds for innovation and development as well as culture, the special status of Eastern and Northern Finland regarding the allocation criteria of the EU’s Structural Funds balances the allocation of public funds in our country.
The Finnish Government and the EU have prepared comprehensive stimulus packages to boost growth after the coronavirus crisis. It makes sense to consider the allocation of the stimulus packages and the allocation criteria of the EU’s Structural Funds as a whole and on an equal footing with respect to all of Finland.
The statement is available online in Finnish: https://oulu.com/fi/oulun_tulevaisuus/
Last updated: 26.8.2020