Government to increase vitality of eastern Finland by investing in rail transport and competence building
A working group of State Secretaries was tasked to examine how Russia’s attack on Ukraine has affected the economy of eastern Finland and what measures are needed to strengthen the region’s vitality. The working group has proposed to the Government short-term measures for the 2023 budget proposal, reallocation of funding using existing funding sources, and long-term measures. The measures focus on accessibility, tourism, competence building, regional development, and energy self-sufficiency and the green transition.
“The measures that increase the vitality of eastern Finland aim to have an effect on vitality and competitiveness in the whole of Finland. The sustainable wellbeing of the regions can only be based on the regions’ own strengths and the positive cycle they create,” says State Secretary Ann-Mari Kemell, chair of the working group.
The working group has emphasised measures that increase investments in sustainable growth and potential sectors. It has also proposed measures to ensure accessibility.
In its budget proposal for 2023, the Government decided on the investments recommended by the working group for next year as per the group’s proposal.
Working group proposes several short-term and long-term measures
The working group considered it important to make sure eastern Finland is accessible. To promote railway projects, the working group proposed an appropriation of EUR 31.1 million for 2023. At the same time, the working group recommended that rail projects still in the planning stage be accelerated by all possible means. In addition, good flight connections play an important role for region’s export industry, tourism and general accessibility.
The working group proposed EUR 10 million for increasing the number of student places in higher education institutions in eastern Finland and for promoting research and development activities. In addition, EUR 1 million was proposed to support youth work.
The working group also proposed EUR 5 million to capitalise the state-owned special assignment company Työkanava Ltd., which employs people with impaired work capacity who are in the most difficult labour market position. To improve the availability of skilled labour, provision will be made in the budget to pilot a regional student loan compensation scheme.
The working group proposed that tourism be promoted by EUR 7.5 million by improving the conditions and services for nature and hiking tourism, for example. What is more, investment projects for the Kutila Canal and wilderness museum will be speeded up.
In order to increase energy self-sufficiency, solutions will be sought to reconcile the additional construction of wind power plants in eastern Finland with territorial surveillance of the region.
Regional and cross-regional cooperation projects will also be advanced in eastern Finland by allocating EUR 12 million in EU regional and structural policy funds to the region.
The working group considers it very important that Finland and the European Commission quickly agree on a solution to reallocate the funds reserved for the EU’s cross-border cooperation programmes for 2021–2027 to support and develop eastern Finland.
Ann-Mari Kemell, State Secretary to the Minister of Economic Affairs, tel. +358 295 047 332
Marjukka Aarnio, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 150