Regional development and regional councils

Regional councils are the main bodies promoting the interests of their regions and they also act as statutory joint municipal authorities. Working in cooperation with central government authorities, central cities, other municipalities and universities in their regions and other parties involved in regional development, they are responsible for the regional development strategy and overall regional development.

Both regional development and regional land use planning are statutory tasks of the regional councils. There are 18 + 1 regions in Finland (18 regions in Mainland Finland and the Province of Åland).

Regional planning

The regional plan lays out the envisaged long-term development of the region (20 - 30 years). The regional plan is implemented by means of the regional strategic programme and the regional land use plan.

The regional strategic programme is a medium-term development programme derived from the objectives and strategies of the regional plan and its purpose is to steer and coordinate regional development. The programme contains the development objectives that are based on the region’s potential, needs, culture and other special characteristics, a description of the projects central to the region’s development and other important measures, planned cooperation agreements, details of the municipal cooperation areas (if necessary) and a plan for financing the programme.

In Lapland, the regional strategic programme also includes a section on the Sami culture prepared by the Sami Parliament.

The regional strategic programmes are prepared for four years and they cover the term of the municipal councils. The regional councils are responsible for organising the programme preparation process in their areas and the programmes are approved by regional assemblies.

The Ministry of Employment and the Economy is responsible for coordinating, monitoring and evaluating the preparation and implementation of regional strategic programmes (and other programmes under the Regional Development Act) jointly with other ministries, Regional Councils, Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and other actors having central role in the regional development.

Implementation plan for regional strategic programme

The implementation plan, which is more concrete than the regional strategic programme, contains the most important measures and projects aimed at putting the programme into effect and the plan for financing the measures. The implementation plan sets out the priority areas for national and European Union funding. In addition, regional anticipation and preparation of structural changes have been described in the implementation plan. The implementation plan also describes the measures concerning the region’s cooperation areas and other joint regional measures and the initiatives submitted to central government.

The implementation plan is prepared every two years under the auspices of the regional council in cooperation with the ELY Centres and other central government authorities, municipalities and other parties involved in the implementation of the regional strategic programme. The plan may be reviewed each year. The implementation plan is approved by the regional management committee.

By laying out a long-term (10 - 20 years) framework and guidelines for regional land use the regional land use plan provides a basis for achieving the regional objectives. The regional land use plan is closely connected with the regional strategic programme because the development measures laid out in the programme may require regional land use planning. At the same time, the regional land use plan may also be implemented through the regional strategic programme.

Further information:

Petra Stenfors, petra.stenfors(at)
Lari Anttonen, lari.anttonen(at)