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.
The Northern Sparsely Populated Area (NSPA), represents close collaboration between the four northernmost counties of Sweden (Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Jämtland, Västernorrland), seven northernmost and eastern regions of Finland (Lapland, Northern Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia, Kainuu, North Karelia, Pohjois-Savo and Etelä-Savo) and North Norway (Finnmark, Troms and Nordland), 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. The response highlights that a balanced growth, in which all European regions can play a part in, requires Europe 2020 strategy to take into consideration the regional specificities and provide suitable instruments for those regions facing multiple challenges that can hamper their abilities to reach the overall objectives of the strategy.
In the response, the NSPA welcomes the comprehensive approach and efforts of the strategy to streamline different European policies towards common goals. It is important for the NSPA that the development goals are in line with the larger EU policy framework, and that the regions play an active role in the implementation of the European policies. Due to the specific characteristics of the NSPA, it has a long history of dealing with the societal challenges Europe as a whole is encountering only now. Fragile Arctic areas, harsh climate, long distances and aging and declining population have equipped the NSPA with a specific know-how on issues such as climate change, energy dependence and demographic change. Therefore, the NSPA emphasises it has the ability to play an active role and be in the forefront of providing solutions and added value for the whole of Europe.
The NSPA requires extra attention
The NSPA underlines that it needs further attention due to its sparse population, harsh climate, long distances and remoteness from the bigger markets. These characteristics create competitive disadvantages for the area, but simultaneously, when acknowledged and properly supported, the NSPA can provide added value for the whole of Europe. Furthermore, the NSPA stresses to the European Commission that it is of importance for the strategy to take into consideration the regional dimension. It sees as an improvement the intention of the strategy to involve the local and regional level in implementation, but notes that reaching the targets calls for much stronger multilevel governance. There is a genuine need for flexibility and customised targets which take into consideration the regional differences and characteristics. It is vital to secure the possibility to adapt and reallocate funding with regards the needs of individual regions.
European Commission should clarify the guidelines for potential synergies
The NSPA sees that all European regions have the potential to act as drivers for the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and to fulfill the Europe 2020 targets. However, to realise the potential, the remote and sparsely populated areas should maintain their specific status which allows them to benefit from a variety of EU instruments and development actions. The comprehensive approach of the Europe 2020 strategy requires increasing synergies between regional, national and EU funds which have a clear link to Europe 2020 targets and regional strategies. The NSPA calls for more concrete guidelines from the European Commission on how the synergies and leverage should be realized.
What is the Europe 2020 strategy?
Europe 2020 is the EU's ten-year growth and jobs strategy that was launched in 2010. It is about more than just overcoming the crisis from which our economies are now gradually recovering. It is also about addressing the shortcomings of our growth model and creating the conditions for a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Five headline targets have been set for the EU to achieve by the end of 2020. These cover employment; research and development; climate/energy; education; social inclusion and poverty reduction. The objectives of the strategy are also supported by seven "flagship initiatives" providing a framework through which the EU and national authorities mutually reinforce their efforts in areas supporting the Europe 2020 priorities such as innovation, the digital economy, employment, youth, industrial policy, poverty, and resource efficiency. In March 2014, the Commission published a Communication taking stock of the Europe 2020 strategy, four years after its launch. In May 2014, a public consultation feeding into the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy was launched. The consultation was closed in 31 October 2014.
If you need more information or have any questions about the NSPA's response on the Europe 2020 strategy, please contact any of the NSPA offices.