Operational Programme 'Eastern Finland'

Programme under Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective, co-funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)


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The European Commission approved on 28 September 2007 a regional operational programme for Eastern Finland region for the period 2007-2013, entitled "Itä-Suomen EAKR-toimenpideohjelma" within the framework of the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective. The programme covers the regions of Southern Savo, Kainuu, North Karelia, and Northern Savo with a population of approximately 664,000 at the end of 2005.

The total budget of the programme is around EUR 1.5 billion and the Community assistance through the ERDF amounts to EUR 365.6 million, which accounts for approximately 21 % of the total amount invested in Finland during programming period 2007-2013. Eastern Finland has a "phasing-in" status, which means a strongly diminishing financing profile over the years 2007-13. Due to its permanent handicap caused by sparse population and remoteness, the region benefits from a special allocation for sparsely populated areas of EUR 35 per inhabitant per year from the ERDF , totalling EUR 186 million during the programming period. The special allocation amount is included in the total amount of ERDF investment for the programme.

1. The purpose and aim of the EU investment

Eastern Finland is a peripheral and very sparsely populated area. Declining population and a high unemployment rate have been Eastern Finland’s key challenges for years. Also, its population is ageing very fast. Slower economic growth than elsewhere in Finland weakens the potential to develop the area and improve its competitiveness. The strengths of Eastern Finland are its nature and natural resources and their utilisation, as well as the expertise of its universities, polytechnics, research institutes and high-technology enterprises.

During 2000-06 Eastern Finland benefited from Structural Funds support of over EUR 650 million within the Eastern Finland Objective 1 programme, with the help of which 27,000 new jobs were created, 41,000 jobs were maintained, and nearly 6,000 new companies were created by the end of 2006.

The new EU programme for 2007-13 aims to build on the success of the previous programme and to continue alleviating the negative effects caused by the regional challenges and developing the competitiveness of the region based on its strengths by promoting the competitiveness of enterprises, by developing well-functioning innovation systems, and by improving the accessibility and attractiveness of the region. The vision is to make Eastern Finland a globally competitive and open environment for knowledge, entrepreneurship and living.

2. The expected impact of the investment

The programme aims to create over 13,000 new jobs and over 2,000 new enterprises. The aim is to use 35% of the financial framework to research and development projects creating 800 new R&D jobs. 86% of the investment available has been earmarked for Lisbon-related expenditure, which is well above the Community objective of 75% for Regional Competitiveness and Employment regions.

3. Priority axes

The programme will be implemented through three main priorities and a technical assistance priority.

Priority 1: Promotion of business activity

This priority aims at developing productivity, creating more jobs and safeguarding existing jobs through supporting entrepreneurship and growth of enterprises and through improving access to business services and finance.

Priority 2: Promotion of innovation activity and networking, and reinforcing knowledge structures

This priority aims to activate expert networks with strong links to the national and international development projects of enterprises, universities, research institutes as well as regional businesses, and to support the creation and development of centres of excellence for key sectors.

Priority 3: Improving regional accessibility and operational environments

Long distances, a sparse population, a vulnerable environment and cold climate pose challenges to increasing the competitiveness of enterprises and quality of life. This priority aims to improve the accessibility and attractiveness of the region for businesses, employees and tourist by improving logistics and transport connections, services, environment and tourist attractions.

Priority 4: Technical assistance

This priority will provide support for programme management and implementation, including technical support, communications and publicity, research and evaluation actions.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Eastern Finland'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision


Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Promotion of business activity 156 257 285 156 257 285 312 514 570
Promotion of innovation activity and networking, and reinforcing knowledge structures 131 254 822 131 254 822 262 509 644
Improving regional accessibility and operational environments 63 429 630 63 429 630 126 859 260
Technical assistance 14 622 572 14 622 572 29 245 144
Total 365 564 309 365 564 309 731 128 618