European cross-border cooperation programmes between Finland and Russia and with Swedish and Norwegian participants in the North Calotte region are back on track.
The preparatory phase of the programmes, which started in May 2013, was fairly long and challenging. The EU decided to leave the cross-border and people-to-people cooperation programmes outside the list of sanctions and restrictive actions. This made it possible to continue the programme preparations, and was significant from the point of view of regional development and national development strategies.
The cross-border cooperation programmes between Finland and Russia and with Sweden and Norway in the North Calotte region were relaunched on 1 October 2018. The process of ratification of the financing agreements for the programmes was completed in August, and now that the contracts have entered into force, the projects selected for funding may commence.
Longstanding cross-border cooperation in the North Calotte area halted because of the delays in the programme contract ratification. Riikka Oittinen, Kolarctic CBC Programme Manager at the Regional Council of Lapland admits that the delays were unfortunate.
“Cross-border cooperation in the North is also carried out with other funding instruments, but as the Kolarctic CBC is the key instrument for cooperation between the North Calotte region and Northwest Russia, the continuity of cooperation suffered.”
Riikka Oittinen has not learned that the good partnerships established earlier would have suffered because of the delays.
“The different parties have been very patient and understanding about the delays, and the partners who have found each other earlier value the partnerships and are eager to continue their cooperation.”
The European Neighbourhood Instrument programmes maintain a dialogue between stakeholders between the European Commission, Finland and Russia and help the parties to achieve key common goals. Through cooperation projects, the programmes support the solving of challenges that cut across geographical boundaries.
The Karelia and South-East Finland - Russia CBC programmes are implemented between Finland and Russia. The Kolarctic programme also includes areas from Sweden and Norway. The programme areas cover the entire 1340 km long border between Finland and Russia.
The objectives of the Kolarctic CBC include promoting economic and social development in regions on both sides of common borders, addressing common challenges in environment, public health, safety and security, improving the conditions and modalities for facilitating the mobility of persons, goods and capital and promoting the viability of Arctic economy, nature and environment.
The CBC programmes support people-to-people cooperation. During the previous Kolarctic programme period, Northern Cross-Border Cultural Experts project set up a friendly football match in Ivalo. Photo Raisa Järvenpää (c) Kolarctic ENPI CBC.