Western Finland's development priorities
A regional plan of the South and West of Finland for the structural fund period of 2014–2020 is implemented in Western Finland. The Sustainable Growth and Jobs 2014-2020 Structural Funds Programme of Finland steers the selection of development projects and investments, but smart specialisation policies of each region, which have been presented in regional strategies, have a key role. There are seven regions in Western Finland which all have development priorities approved by regional management committees. For more detailed information on the regional priorities, see the regions' subpages. In addition to the regional funding of Western Finland, projects may also be funded with national development programmes. Further information in the section on national funding.
In Western Finland, the purpose of the Structural Fund Programmes of the EU is to diversify the economic structure and to increase the number of growing and innovative businesses aiming at the international market. Businesses are encouraged to develop new products and services, particularly for the increasingly international market, and to introduce innovations that promote productivity. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are also supported in developing their potential for growth and new business activity, specialising and increasing network-like cooperation. The Innovative Cities (INKA) programme has a key position in the development of the products and services of SMEs and measures that expand the innovation base.
In order to decrease energy consumption and greenhouse emissions, the programme aims at increasing the proportion of renewable energy and the use of local energy sources, and boosting energy and material efficiency. In particular, the promotion of bioeconomy is part of the measures used to promote the aim for low-carbon economy in Western Finland. Energy efficiency and smart use of resources are also priorities of the programme. Structural and functional changes must be endorsed in urban regions, as these not only promote the low-carbon economy but also open up pioneering markets to the businesses in the region.
In Western Finland, funding from the Structural Fund Programmes of the EU is used to finance employment policy measures particularly targeting young people, the long-term unemployed and immigrants. Promoting the employment and preventing the social exclusion of young people are key challenges throughout Finland. The aim is to ensure that the qualitative and quantitative supply of education and demand for labour force are in balance. As many young people as possible will begin studies leading into a qualification immediately after basic education and will transition to the labour market as smoothly as possible after vocational training or higher education. Professional competence of those in danger of social exclusion and different learners will also be ensured.
Funding from the Structural Fund Programmes of the EU will also be used to decrease social inequality, for example by affecting education and opportunities for employment, supporting social networks and those in a vulnerable position, and developing equal access to and quality of services. Particular attention will be paid to promoting the health and well-being of the unemployed and those with partial work capacity. Working and integration into the labour market are the primary and most sustainable methods for combating poverty, inequality and social exclusion.
Regional management committees
A regional management committee coordinates and reconciles structural fund activities in the region. The committee also follows and monitors the methodological implementation of structural fund programmes. The regional management committee includes representatives of various central organisations, businesses, and authorities and the largest municipalities in the region. The minutes of the committee's meetings can be accessed in the section on the priorities of each region.