Operational Programme 'Northern 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 27 September 2007 a regional operational programme for Northern Finland region for the period 2007-2013, entitled "Pohjois-Suomen EAKR-toimenpideohjelma" within the framework of the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective. The programme covers the regions of Central Ostrobothnia, Lapland, and Northern Ostrobothnia with a population of approximately 634,500 at the end of 2005.

The total budget of the programme is around EUR 1.1 billion and the Community assistance through the ERDF amounts to EUR 311.3 million, which accounts for approximately 18 % of the total Structural Fund money invested in Finland during programming period 2007-2013. Due to its permanent handicap caused by sparse population and remoteness, the Northern Finland region benefits from a special allocation for sparsely populated areas of EUR 35 per inhabitant per year from the ERDF, totalling EUR 173 million during the programming period. The special allocation amount is included in the total amount of ERDF investment to the programme.

1. The purpose and aim of the EU investment

Northern Finland is the northernmost and one of the most sparsely populated areas in the European Union. The main challenges of the region stem from its peripherality, harsh climatic conditions and sparse and rapidly ageing population. However, the interesting geopolitical location with long external borders with Norway and Russia offer possibilities for more efficient exploitation of Northwest Russian oil, gas and mineral reserves in the future. Northern Finland also has an important processing and knowledge cluster for metal and steel industry and the region is becoming one of the most important regions for extractive industry in Europe. In addition, Northern Finland is an important leisure location that is specialised in nature-based experience production for European tourists.

During 2000-06 Northern Finland benefited from Structural Funds support of over EUR 335 million within the Northern Finland Objective 1 programme, with the help of which more than 11,000 new jobs were created, nearly 18,000 jobs were maintained, and nearly 1,800 new companies were created by the end of year 2006.

The new EU programme for 2007-13 aims to build on the success of the previous programme and the objective of the Regional competitiveness and employment programme for Northern Finland is to enhance the region’s national and international competitiveness as a response to the ongoing restructuring in its population and sources of livelihood. The strategy for the programme has four main priorities: innovative competitiveness, enterprise growth, accessibility and regional attractiveness factors.

2. The expected impact of the investment

The programme aims to create 11,000 new jobs and 1,500 new enterprises. The aim is to use 25% of the financial framework to research and development projects creating 1,000 new R&D jobs. 76.2% of the investment available has been earmarked for Lisbon-related expenditure, which is 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 'Northern 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 111 836 001 111 836 001 223 672 002
Promotion of innovation activity and networking, and reinforcing knowledge structures 116 076 211 116 076 211 232 152 422
Improving regional accessibility and operational environments 70 910 014 70 910 014 141 820 028
Technical assistance 12 450 926 12 450 926 24 901 852
Total 311 273 152 311 273 152 622 546 304