EU cohesion policy: Commission adopts €2 billion Partnership Agreement with Finland for 2021-2027

(Source: European Commission)

The Commission adopted its Partnership Agreement with Finland, laying down Finland’s €2 billion cohesion policy investment strategy for the period 2021-2027. The funds will support Finland in promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion, with a focus on key EU priorities such as the green and digital transition. The funds will also contribute to the country’s competitive, innovative and sustainable growth.

A smarter economy

In line with regional smart specialisation strategies, about €523 million will improve research and development (R&D) and innovation. Investments will also foster digitalisation, accelerate small and medium-sized businesses’ growth and increase productivity. Sustainable urban development is strategically connected to smart specialisation and implemented through a so-called ‘Integrated Territorial Investment’ focused on a common goal of in innovative eco-systems in 16 urban areas. This approach will also allow Finland to support successful projects such as the  ‘RANTA‘ or ‘Climate Street‘ projects, improving concretely the life of its citizens.

A greener economy

Finland has planned for 40% of its investments to support the green transition. The funds will be used to improve energy efficiency, climate change adaptation and resources efficiency. Moreover, measures to address and mitigate the negative social, economic and environmental impacts of the halving of peat production in Finland will be introduced. The funds will therefore support the country’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.

More social cohesion

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) in Finland will promote social cohesion, with about €580 million allocated to this goal. The ESF+ will help people in Finland to invest in their skills and lifelong learning, the adaptability of the workforce and the employability of those facing difficulties to enter the labour market. The ESF+ will also help tackle material deprivation, intergenerational poverty and social exclusion.

A resilience fisheries and aquaculture sector

The European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) for Finland will focus on a resilient fisheries and aquaculture sector, with strong support for innovation and investment and adaptation to climate change. The Finnish EMFAF programme will also  continue the positive experiences and further reinforce the Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) – bottom-up initiatives that aim to sustainably develop the local fisheries sector – with stronger national and regional cooperation.

Innovation and skills programme for Finland 2021-2027

The greatest share of the Finland Partnership Agreement will improve innovation and skills, with a dedicated programme worth €1.4 billion. It will support different priorities, ranging from R&D and innovation to greening the economy, enhancing sustainable mobility in the northern sparsely populated region, combating material deprivation, and improving the employment of young people. This programme will also dedicate more than 8% of the European Regional and Development Fund to sustainable urban development.

Members of the College said:

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “I am happy to see that the Partnership Agreement with Finland for 2021-2027 has been approved. Cohesion policy funds will support Finland to enhance its innovation systems and master the green and digital transition. They will also significantly help the country to reach its ambitious goal of climate neutrality by 2035. With the adoption of the three operational programmes covered in the Partnership Agreement, it is important to launch as soon as possible the projects on the ground, which will also mobilise the much-needed post-pandemic investment and balance regional inequalities.”

Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, said: “To adapt to the rapidly changing labour market in the EU, Member States must invest heavily in skills and lifelong learning. Finland has understood this challenge and plans to dedicate €1.4 billion of cohesion policy funds to a new Innovation and Skills programme, as well as an additional €580 million to other social investments such as combatting poverty and social exclusion.”

Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “Europe’s blue economy plays a crucial role in supporting coastal communities and in decarbonising our economy. The Partnership Agreement will allow Finland to build a resilient, sustainable and low-carbon fisheries and aquaculture sector, as well as to boost the digital transition of the sector and reinforce the economic and social vitality of coastal communities. The European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund is given at disposal for innovative projects to contribute to this shift.”

Background

The Partnership Agreement with Finland paves the way for cohesion specific operational programmes to be implemented on the ground. It covers 3 programmes, of which two cover the whole country and one concerns the Åland region. Moreover, it establishes the eligibility and implementation of the Just Transition Fund in the regions with the most carbon-intensive industrial facilities to help them face the challenges of the transition to climate neutrality.

The Partnership Agreement also reflects Finland’s strong commitment to the coordinated use of the cohesion policy funds with the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

Under cohesion policy, and in cooperation with the Commission, each Member State prepares a Partnership Agreement, a strategic document for programming investments from the cohesion policy funds and the EMFAF during the Multiannual Financial Framework. It focuses on EU priorities, laying down the strategy and investment priorities identified by the Member State, and it presents a list of national and regional programmes for implementation on the ground, including the indicative annual financial allocation for each programme. The Partnership Agreement with Finland is the fifth agreement for the 2021-2027 funding period, following those of GreeceGermanyLithuania and Austria.

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