(Press release 23 March 2018) Key lobbying priorities of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities for 2018 are the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework and the future of cohesion policy.
- Local and regional levels will continue to have a pivotal role in implementing cohesion policy in the future. The geographical themes central to Finnish municipalities and regions are the special circumstances of sparsely populated areas of the North, the potential of the Arctic, cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region and cross-border cooperation with Russia, says Jari Koskinen, the Association's Director General.
In the near future, Europe’s greatest challenges besides the Brexit negotiations will be migration, internal and external security and defence. There is a risk that this will lead to decreasing funds for cohesion and agricultural policies.
- Cohesion policy should be applied across Europe. The Association emphasises that EU Structural Funds should be made available across the country in Finland as well. Funding under the EU’s common agricultural policy instrument should be available not only in the form of direct payments but also for developing entrepreneurial activity throughout the country, Koskinen stresses.
The Structural Funds implementing cohesion policy have played an important role in promoting entrepreneurial activities and employment, building competence and in preventing social exclusion. Local authorities have partnered with and provided funding for various development and investment projects.
Urban policy, transport network and circular economy
The objective of the European Union’s Urban Agenda is to promote urban policy in the EU and to give cities opportunities to participate in EU policy shaping. The Urban Agenda aims for a multi-level approach and an urban dimension in better regulation, better funding and better knowledge.
- The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities believes that when identifying best practices for national and EU-level urban policy, it must be ensured that the main responsibility for urban policy remains with the Member States. The EU complements Member State action and efforts, Jari Koskinen notes.
The aim of the EU’s Circular Economy Package is to address economic and environmental concerns by maximizing efficiency in the use of resources, covering the whole value chain including sustainable consumption, production and waste management. A further aim is to enable the development of new markets and business models through innovation.
- The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities welcomes in principle the implementation of measures promoting circular economy. Local authorities play a pivotal role in delivering the objectives. Municipal measures, for example climate action, waste management that promotes circular economy, and sustainable and innovative public procurement must be supported. Municipalities should be encouraged to take action on a voluntary basis and make use of local solutions, Kristina Wikberg, the Association's director of international and Swedish-language affairs says.
The Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) is scheduled for completion by the end of 2030. Currently two core network corridors extend to southern Finland. The future goal is to have the main railway line (and highway 4) that stretches to the town of Tornio in Lapland added to the North Sea-Baltic core network corridor and to make it eligible for funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
- It is essential to secure funding for CEF in the forthcoming EU programming period. This supports the aim to link all of Europe, including its northernmost parts, to the EU market, Wikberg emphasises.
Finland will hold the Presidency of the European Union during the latter half of 2019.
- The position of municipalities and regions must be taken into account in the preparation for the Finnish EU Presidency, Wikberg concludes.