OECD report launched in Brussels
A territorial review, conducted over the past two years by the Organization for Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the 14 regions in the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas, NSPA, was officially published on 13th March. The publishing of the OECD report on the NSPA was highlighted at a launch event arranged by the NSPA network, together with the OECD, at the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels with high-level representatives from the EU, national governments and the NSPA.
Future development depends to a large scale on fostering infrastructure, increasing the use of e-technologies within the service sector and creating new employment opportunities in the small and medium enterprises refining forestry, mining and natural resources. Only regional strategies, tailored to the strengths and advantages of the regions, can make this development possible.
This is the main argument stated in the unique OECD report on northern Sweden, Finland and Norway, that was presented in Brussels on the 13th of March. The network of Northern Sparsely Populated Areas, along with the OECD and the Committee of the Regions, had the honour to host the launch of this "Territorial Report", carried out by the OECD on the 14 NSPA regions.
The launch of the OECD report on the NSPA in the Committee of the Regions has drawn considerable public attention.
Considerable interest in the OECD report on the
On the 13th of March the OECD report on the NSPA was revealed to public in Brussels in the conference room of the Committee of the Regions, to a capacity audience of representatives from the EU, national level and different regions and sectors.
The OECD, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, is a collaboration of 35 developed countries and is recognized as the world's leading research institute advising governments on tackling the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalized economy. In this report the OECD has scrutinized the economies of the 14 regions of the NSPA network, comprising the northern portions of Sweden, Norway and Finland. These regions have many similar challenges, such as sparsely populated areas, inhospitable climate and large distances, that distinguish them from the rest of Europe. At the same time, this alikeness is diluted by striking dissimilarities that make NSPA a unique case to study, as the OECD points out.
This study is highly important for the economic growth and the regional development of Northern Europe in its cooperation with the EU, as well as its neighbouring countries and regions.
Erik Bergkvist (second right), Region Västerbotten, welcomed all to the seminar and introduced the key note speakers Markku Markkula (left), President of the European Committee of the Regions, and Mari Kiviniemi (second left), Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD. Mikael Janson (right), North Sweden, opened the ceremony by presenting the coordinators of the study, beside himself; Kari Aalto, East & North Finland, Trond Haukanes, North Norway and Zofia Tucinska, Mid Sweden.
Large support of the OECD study of the
The launch of the OECD report in Brussels gathered the representatives of 14 regions. The conference commenced with the presentation given by Erik Bergkvist, the chairman of Västerbotten Region, who cordially welcomed all the participants and described the general background of the report and its meaning for the NSPA.
Opening speeches were given by the eminent actors in the sphere of regional development. First, Markku Markkula, the President of the European Committee of the Regions, took the floor and underlined the importance of this unique cooperation of the NSPA network with the OECD. He underpinned the regions' role in the development of the EU and Europe and the need for cooperation to create sustainable smart growth in Europe as a whole, giving some personal memories from his travels over the borders in northern Finland, Sweden and Norway.
He was followed by the Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD Mari Kiviniemi, who enlightened the audience with the major challenges currently facing NSPA regions, and explained how the results of this report could be beneficial to the other OECD members, struggling with the similar problems. At the same time, Mari Kiviniemi praised NSPA members for close cooperation and declared: "NSPA has significant opportunities and has an important geopolitical role in Europe".
Finally, Normunds Popens, Deputy Director-General at the European Commission, identified the importance of the way in which the study was carried out. He insisted that getting to the roots of the issue by traveling to the regions in question is the only way to genuinely understand a region's development, and that is what strongly characterizes this OECD study and makes it so valuable in terms of its recommendations.
Moreover, Normunds Popens marked the timeliness of the report, as it came out as the discussion on the so called "the EU post-2020 era" had begun, and the future of the cohesion policy, its importance and its funding is being actively debated. He called upon the regions to address their governments and demonstrate the successful cooperation that the cohesion policy has enabled, pointing out the NSPA as the successful example of this.
Normunds Popens, Deputy Director-General at DG REGIO, concluded the opening speeches by pointing out that the NSPA represents a good example for other regions and that it is important to demonstrate its success in order to ensure the EU support for regional development.
The OECD gives policy recommendations to the northern EU
The report was presented by Chris McDonald, Policy Analyst from the OECD's Regional Development Policy Division, who has led the work with the report on the NSPA. He began his presentation by providing a general description of the NSPA regions, their challenges and strong sides. He pointed out that within the context of the OECD these regions are relatively wealthy and are generally experiencing above-average growth. However, they are generally under national average in many factors important for growth in each national context. He noted that the NSPA regions are becoming closer to each other with regard to their GDP per capita which could enhance the potential for fruitful collaboration among them. According to the results of the report, the NSPA regions face shared policy challenges in spite of significant internal diversity, such as remoteness, harsh climate, few people and long distances and dependency on natural resources.
After scrutinizing the peculiarities of the NSPA development, the OECD presented a large number of policy recommendations that need to be implemented on the national level, together with joint efforts within the NSPA and the EU networks. Above all, the OECD insists that it is highly necessary to shape tailored strategies on the local, national and regional levels in order to be able to foster successful regional development.
Chris McDonald, who has led work on this report, gave a brief summary of the OECD's analysis and recommendations to the NSPA regions.
-It is vital for the northern regions to identify their absolute competitive advantage and to focus on its development in order to create Smart Specialization, - declared Chris McDonald.
Among other things, the OECD has underlined that the access to natural resources has been an undisputably strong advantage of the NSPA regions. The next step should be to develop products refining through the small and medium enterprises. If this effort is successful, it could potentially create many employment opportunities, primarily in the sparsely populated areas. In turn, this is a vital measure that would stop the youth from emigrating from these regions and make them attractive to the younger labour force, according to the OECD.
Moreover, the report reveals the dissimilarities between the smaller communities and the larger cities with their more extensive growth potential, enabled by healthcare, innovation and IT-development. The OECD points out that it is highly important to find a way to connect these cities with the rural areas by linking regional and rural development policies.
Panel discussion with the representatives from the EU, the NSPA regions and national governments of Sweden, Norway and Finland was led by Abel Schumann from the OECD.
Panel discussion from all angles and
The presentation of the OECD territorial review on the NSPA was followed by the lively panel discussion, led by Abel Schumann, Economist at the OECD's Public Governance and Territorial Development Department. The participants made several remarks on the importance of this study and the following work to implement its recommendations. Søren Kissmeyer, Senior Expert at DG AGRI claimed that in line with the OECD results, he finds the improved cross-border collaboration to be of an extreme importance for the NSPA regions. He stated that the NSPA joint efforts are an example of the best practice when it comes to the regional coordination of funds.
Regarding the OECD's policy recommendations, Søren Kissmeyer admitted: "I'm happy to see that they go hand in hand with those policy tools that DG AGRI tries to make available to the rural areas, namely broadband, innovation and research, tourism and technology".
Jen Nilsson, the Member of the European Parliament, discussed the future of the negotiations on the cohesion policy in the EU. He highlighted the need to make a better use of regional funds and to simplify the rules of applying for financing on the national level. As Jen Nilsson is leading work in both the REGI and TRAN Committees in the European Parliament, he paid specific attention to the fact that the OECD report emphasizes the importance of the well-functioning transport corridor in the Northern Europe. Jens concluded the panel discussion by expressing hope for the better regional cooperation:
"I have a dream... that the next time national ministers of transport have a meeting, the NSPA regions are coming to this meeting together, demonstrating the ministers what should be done".
Tomas Norvoll, Nordland County, who together with Pentti Mäkinen, South Savo County, and Erik Bergkvist, Region Västerbotten, represented the NSPA in the debate, put forward the need for the regions to step up in the value chain, exemplifying with Norwegian cod that when the fisherman land it in North Norway it is worth a few Euro, but when leaving the region, reaching the customer, is worth many times more.
Elisabeth Backteman, State Secretary at the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, Kaisa-Leena Lintilä, Director at the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and Grete Ellingsen, State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, represented the national governments and gave their support for the OECD study and the unique cooperation in the northernmost Europe. The study provides a good basis for continued dialogue with the regions and also in a Nordic and European context to deliver adapted tools for sustainable growth from the states concerned.
All panelists agreed on the importance of the cooperation in the NSPA and the added value the OECD study brings to this cooperation, as well as the dialogue on concrete actions on also national and EU level; even while perhaps not agreeing on all issues and with some things needing to be more analyzed and discussed for the future. Marie Kiviniemi from the OECD wrapped the launch event up by giving a thank-you to all for being a part of making this (also for the OECD) important report, and Pentti Mäkinen closed the seminar on behalf of the NSPA regions.
21 March 2017
The unique OECD report on northern Sweden, Finland and Norway was presented in Brussels on the 13th of March. The network of Northern Sparsely Populated Areas, along with the OECD and the Committee of the Regions, had the honour to host the launch of this “Territorial Report”, carried out by the OECD on the 14 NSPA regions.
21 March 2017
Following the launch of the OECD report, the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas arranged a Forum at the Swedish Representation to the EU. High level speakers put the report in a larger perspective and regional representatives discussed future priorities for the NSPA.
13 March 2017
Launch of OECD Territorial Review of Northern Sparsely Populated Areas
07 February 2017
The NSPA Network warmly invites our regional actors to the NSPA OECD follow-up Forum 14th March in Brussels. The aim is to deepen the common understanding of the OECD Territorial Review togheter with our stakeholders.
16 December 2016
The NSPA Network warmly invites you to the launch in Brussels of the OECD study on the NSPA on 13th March 2017.
31 October 2016
The Arctic Innovation Camp (16-19 November 2016) will gather approximately 60 people from around Europe from a diversity of ages, disciplines, backgrounds and cultures to co-create and support the development of the entrepreneurial and civic spirit in Northern and other parts of Europe.
20 October 2016
The NSPA network hosted a workshop that aimed to discuss the potential for the sustainable innovation in less-urban areas in the north of Europe.
13 July 2016
The Regional Partnership on Sustainable Innovation in Less Urban Areas in The North invites to an Event for EWRC in Brussels, 11th October 2016.
09 May 2016
The NSPA Network warmly invites you to the next NSPA forum in Mikkeli, Finland, 9th-10th June 2016.
21 March 2016
On March 15 the NSPA steering committee met with the European Commission at DG Regio to discuss the ongoing OECD study. Representatives from the Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish NSPA took part.
10 March 2016
Following months of preparation, the long awaited OECD-visit in the northernmost parts of Sweden has finally taken place, starting with a bus-tour through the regions on February 22 to meet with numerous regional representatives, and ending five days later with a seminar held in Piteå - attended by almost 300 people.
18 January 2016
The NSPA network welcomes you to the OECD seminar in Piteå, Sweden 25 February.
23 October 2015
In the beginning of October, the OECD experts carried out the second study mission of the NSPA Territorial Review process in northern Norway, with a final joint seminar in Kirkenes.
23 October 2015
The NSPA network hosted a networking event consisted of a short seminar that aimed at discussing the Growth from the North report in the context of the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas.
25 September 2015
The NSPA-led consortium met for a second time to discuss smart initiatives as well as common challenges related to smart cities in sparsely populated areas in Brussels on 16th and 17th September.
21 September 2015
The NSPA network welcomes you to the OECD seminar in Kirkenes, Norway 1 October
10 September 2015
The NSPA network invites you to a short seminar and networking reception on Monday 12 October at 16.45. The short seminar will focus on Growth from the North in the context of the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas
16 July 2015
The mayors of the Arctic cities of Oulu, Tromsö and Luleå, members of the NSPA (Northern Sparsely Populated Areas) network, have together submitted a statement in which they discuss the main challenges and opportunities for the European Arctic.
First OECD study mission: Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship essential for the growth of the NSPA
15 July 2015
In the beginning of June, the OECD experts carried out the first study mission of the NSPA Territorial Review process in the seven participating regions in East and North Finland, with a final joint seminar in Oulu.
22 May 2015
On the 12th of May, the NSPA network held a breakfast meeting at the European Parliament. The aim was to brief the Finnish and Swedish MEPs and their staff members about the OECD Territorial Review process and other topical issues for the northern sparsely populated areas.
12 December 2014
The NSPA has submitted a response to the European Commission's public consultation on “Streamlining EU funding in the Arctic” for the continued work towards a sustainable growth in the Arctic area.
25 November 2014
The Northern Sparsely Populated Area (NSPA) has submitted a response to the European Commission’s public consultation on the Europe 2020 strategy for the continued work towards a sustainable growth in the EU.
24 November 2014
On the 19th of November, the NSPA in cooperation with MEPs Jens Nilsson and Henna Virkkunen hosted the seminar “Transport Infrastructure in the European Arctic”. The seminar was held in the European Parliament.
10 November 2014
On the 4th and 5th of November, the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas held its yearly forum in Bodø. Politicians and other actors from the northern regions of Sweden, Finland and Norway got together to discuss Arctic issues.
13 October 2014
The NSPA network organised an Open Days side event under the name: "Northern Sparsely Populated Areas heading for smart growth - Europe 2020 and beyond" on Tuesday October 7th in Brussels. During the event important interest promotion issues and EU-policies concerning the northern areas were discussed and presentations on various themes were given by the network's four EU offices.
07 October 2014
The NSPA Network in cooperation with Nordland fylkeskommune, cordially invites you to the NSPA Forum 2014, 4-5 November in Bodø.
30 September 2014
We are pleased to welcome you to the next NSPA Transport Seminar the 19th of November in Brussels.
08 September 2014
The NSPA network welcomes you to the NSPA OPEN DAYS side event, Tuesday 7th of October.
09 June 2014
The NSPA welcomes the European Commission's European Innovation Partnership Smart Cities and Communities initiative and stresses the importance of the rapid roll-out of Smart City applications and integrated solutions for energy, built environment, transport and horizontal ICT solutions. The NSPA regions and their cities are involved in various Smart City-type actions...
08 May 2014
The 17-18 June 2014 the Smart Specialisation Platform (S3P) together with the region of Lapland will arrange a workshop in Rovaniemi, Finland, on the topic of Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (S3) in Sparsely Populated Regions. Registration is now available.
18 March 2014
During the NSPA forum in Umeå in October 2013 participants engaged in workshops to discuss the future work of the NSPA. Notes from the workshops are now available and will be used as a basis for strategic discussions on the ongoing and future activities of the NSPA network.
29 October 2013
Around 100 participants from the NSPA gathered in Umeå on the 24-25th of October for the NSPA Forum. The focus of the discussions were on the future of the NSPA network, how and by what measures can the NSPA network take the next step in its cooperation? Key note speakers included representatives from DG REGIO of the European Commission, European Parliament, authors of the Nordregio study on the NSPA, the OECD, as well as regional representatives from theNSPA.
10 October 2013
On the 8th of October, the NSPA network invited participants from the NSPA regions, in the Open Days in Brussels, to a short seminar and networking cocktail to discuss the upcoming programming period, in the light of the NSPA cooperation. The event attracted around 90 participants.
05 September 2013
The NSPA network invites you to a networking reception starting with a short seminar, on the 8th of October, during the Open Days - European week of Regions and Cities 2013.
12 July 2013
We are pleased to welcome you to the back-to-back conferences of the next NSPA forum and the Europaforum Northern Sweden, taking place on the 23-25th of October in Umeå, Sweden.
29 May 2013
Around 70 participants joined the discussions on future priorities and smart specialisation in our northern sparsely populated areas at the NSPA Forum in sunny Oulu on the 21-22 of May. Amongst the participants were representatives from the European Commission, the Finnish Parliament and from local and regional stakeholders in the NSPA.
02 April 2013
The NSPA network cordially invites you to the next NSPA Forum, 21-22 May, 2013 in Oulu, North Finland. The Oulu Forum will focus on the role of the NSPA in the implementation of the different EU initiatives during the 2014-2020 programming period. Invitation and registration is now available.
20 March 2013
On the 7th of March, the NSPA network organized a seminar on Transport Policy in the North at the Swedish Permanent Representation to the EU. With speakers from the European Commission, the permanent representations of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia and the head of secretariat for the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL), the seminar attracted around 80 participants.
25 January 2013
The Northern Sparsely Populated Areas-network (NSPA) cordially invites you to the seminar “Transport Policy in the North” with keynote speakers from the governments of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia, the European Commission and the Secretariat for the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL). Invitation and program is now available.
04 December 2012
The NSPA seminar, on the 29th of November in the European Parliament, hosted by Swedish MEP Jens Nilsson and Finnish MEP Riikka Manner attracted more than 70 participants to get new thoughts on the value of EU Cohesion Policy in the NSPA. Invited speakers discussed the role of territorial cooperation and the importance of smart specialization to realize regional development potential. Participants also had the chance to hear about lessons learned from the NSPA experience and good examples from regions with different specificities.
03 December 2012
NSPA representatives from Finland, Sweden and Norway met with the European Commission Directorate-General of Regional and Urban Policy, on the 28th of November, to discuss and give their position on the on-going negotiations on the EU Multi-Annual Financial Framework.
Cohesion policy as a tool for Smart Growth and an attractive region - Europe 2020 and the NSPA, 29th of November, 2012
21 November 2012
Welcome to a seminar on the value of EU Cohesion Policy in the NSPA. Invited speakers will discuss the role of territorial cooperation and the importance of smart specialisation to realise regional development potential. Looking at what lessons that can be learnt from the NSPA experience this seminar aims to provide good examples for other European regions with different specificities. Hosted by Swedish MEP Jens Nilsson (S&D) and Finnish MEP Riikka Manner (ALDE).
11 October 2012
The NSPA seminar during the Open Days 2012 attracted more than 150 participants, amongst others several representatives from the European Commission and the European Parliament. Focusing on regional east-west cross border cooperation in the northernmost part of Europe, one of the conclusions of the seminar debate was the crucial importance of working across borders in the High North.
10 July 2012
The Northern Sparsely Populated Areas network invites you to a cocktail event, after the official NSPA seminar, on Tuesday 9 October at 17.00.
19 June 2012
The Northern Sparsely Populated Areas (NSPA) network cordially invites you to the OPEN DAYS 2012 seminar. The seminar will focus on the role of NSPA in regional east-west cross-border cooperation and its contribution to create added value for the whole of Europe.
08 June 2012
Tuesday, 5th June, the NSPA network organized a breakfast meeting in the European Parliament on how EU cohesion policy can realize the enormous potential and help overcome the obstacles faced in the NSPA. The meeting was hosted by Finnish MEP Riikka Manner (ALDE) and Swedish MEP Jens Nilsson (S&D) and attracted around 30 participants.
23 May 2012
We are pleased to welcome you to a breakfast in the European Parliament highlighting the potential and obstacles faced by the Northern Sparsely POpulated Areas. Swedish MEP Jens Nilsson (S&D) and Finnish MEP Riikka Manner (ALDE) will lead a discussion on how EU cohesion policy can realize the enormous potential and overcome the obstacles faced by EUrope's far north.
03 May 2012
On the 24th April the NSPA and the Bothnian Corridor Group organized a seminar in the European Parliament about raw materials and transport in the northernmost parts of Europe. Hosting the seminar were MEPs Marita Ulvskog and Liisa Jaakonsaari and with keynote speakers from the European Commission, representatives from the NSPA and from the raw material industry, the seminar attracted around 50 participants.
23 April 2012
The NSPA Forum in Sundsvall gathered around 60 participants to discuss the future cohesion policy and to adopt the NSPA position paper on the legislative package of cohesion policy 2014-2020.
22 February 2012
On the 24th of April the NSPA and the Bothnian Corridor Group are arranging a seminar in the European Parliament on the increasing importance of the supply of raw materials and transport from the high north for the sustainable growth of the European economy.
13 February 2012
The NSPA network cordially invites you to the 4th NSPA Forum on the 18-19 April 2012 in Sundsvall. The Sundsvall forum will focus on the thematic concentration of the next EU funding period and the opportunities that it brings to the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas.
23 January 2012
On the 8th December, the NSPA network met with director general Dirk Ahner, European Commission, to discuss and clarify what the proposals of the regulations on cohesion policy post 2013 signifies for our regions.
18 October 2011
The NSPA seminar and reception on 11th of October 2011, attracted up to 130 registered participants from the NSPA regions. The NSPA seminar focused on demographic change from a young perspective and three young politicians from the three countries of the NSPA gave their view on the topic.
30 September 2011
NSPA Forum in Kuopio on the 22 September assembled more than 80 stakeholders to discuss the next EU funding period and the opportunities of the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas.
07 July 2011
The NSPA network invites you to a short seminar and networking reception on Tuesday 11 October at 18.00. The short seminar will focus on the demographic change and how the NSPA regions can attract more young people. After the seminar a networking reception will follow.
16 May 2011
The NSPA Forum in Kuopio focuses on the next EU funding period and the opportunities that it brings to the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas. Attendees are actors from the EU institutions and the NSPA region.
02 February 2011
Today political representatives from the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas in Finland, Sweden and Norway met with the European Commission to highlight the importance of continued investment in the regions.
27 January 2011
Over 70 stakeholders from the three countries gathered in beautiful Tromsö on 18-19 January to exchange views and agree on the NSPA response to the 5th Cohesion Report.
29 October 2010
The forum aims to agree a joint political position for the NSPA-region concerning the 5th Cohesion Report. Attendees will be actors from the EU institutions and the NSPA region.
19 October 2010
Read more about the workshop Northern Sparsely Populated Areas – Strong Specific and Promising on 5th October in Brussels.
17 September 2010
Welcome to the NSPA Open Days cocktail in Brussels on Tuesday 5 October at 16:30.
06 July 2010
We hope you would like to participate in our event and learn more how the experience and resources from the North can contribute to a prosperous and sustainable Europe.
12 May 2010
The European Union’s future policy on territorial cohesion was on the agenda when the "Intergroup Mountain, Island and Sparsely Populated Regions" on Tuesday 4th May invited to a dialogue meeting in the European Parliament. The NSPA was invited to present how the NSPA positions itself for the future EU regional policy. Mr. Stein Ovesen, director of North Norway European Office, reports from the meeting.
27 April 2010
The network will arrange a workshop during this year's Open Days showcasing the added value that the NSPA region brings to Europe.
28 January 2010
A political delegation from northern Finland, Norway and Sweden has presented its political position on the future cohesion policy to Mr Dirk Ahner, Director General at DG Regional Policy, European Commission.
11 November 2009
This first ever forum for the NSPA region aims to agree a joint political position for the NSPA-region concerning the future cohesion policy for 2014 onwards.
09 October 2009
The two seminars organised by the NSPA at Open days both had a good turnout and made way for many discussions and networking opportunities. See the event report and presentations.
Strong, specific and promising - NSPA publish report as basis for joint position for the future of the region
21 September 2009
The report Northern Sparsely Populated Areas Foresight 2020, produced by Nordregio and commissioned by the NSPA network, has now been published. The dialogue continues in the region to create a joint position using the report as a basis.
06 July 2009
Registration is now open for the Open Days workshops. The NSPA network together with Iceland are organising two workshops on Tuesday 6th October.
03 April 2009
NSPA together with Iceland will participate in this year’s Open Days.
27 February 2009
NSPA submits viewpoints for the Consultation on the Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion to European Commission DG Regional Policy.
31 December 2008
The NSPA network submits its comments on the Baltic Sea Strategy.