Finland's regions will be supported by more than 100 million euros to help their recovery efforts amid the coronavirus epidemic, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment announced on Thursday.
The funding comes from Finland’s structural funds programme and the appropriations supporting sustainable growth and vitality in the regions and development projects for SMEs, the government detailed in a press release.
Regional recovery plans covering at least the years 2020–2021 have been drawn up under the leadership of the regional councils to compile regional recovery measures to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis. Submitting a plan is a condition for receiving support from the recovery fund.
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the aim is to reform the economic structure so that it relies on competence and innovation and has an international orientation. These recovery measures will promote digitalisation and support the creation of a sustainable and carbon neutral society.
Projects funded by the recovery fund may relate, for example, to development of the operating environment, business development, RDI activities, preservation and creation of jobs, prevention of youth unemployment and labour market mismatch, and development of skills.
Regional councils will receive altogether nearly 28 million euros from the appropriations supporting sustainable growth and vitality in the regions. Of this, 17 million euros will be reserved for the implementation of regional recovery plans. In addition, funding will be used to launch development projects to support the recovery of the tourism industry in the regions as well as investments to sustain tourism in the north.
Over 66 million from structural funds
A total of more than 66 million euros will be allocated to the implementation of the regional recovery plans from Finland’s structural fund programme for sustainable growth and jobs. This aid for coronavirus recovery efforts comes from unused and non-allocated EU and state funding from projects of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).
Of the funding for regional development plans, the national appropriations available for the development of SMEs amounts to 25 million euros. The total amount of EU and national funding allocated to SME investment and development projects to recover from the coronavirus crisis is nearly 53 million euros.
Support for paper mill that will close
The Regional Council of Central Finland and the ELY Centre of Central Finland will receive approximately 4.5 million euros for projects related to the transformation of the region of Jämsä, which is affected by the closure of the Kaipola paper mill. In addition to the funding for sustainable growth and vitality of the regions, the amount consists of national and structural funds for business development and investment projects.
Government says this will be the first installment of the funding. The next installment will be prepared in 2021 in connection with phase 2 of future investments. The REACT-EU allocations may also be used in situations of sudden structural change.
These allocations and those yet to be distributed can also be used to respond to other situations of what the government calls 'sudden structural change.'