NSPA adopts positions on the final negotiations of Cohesion Policy 2021-2027 and EU’s initiative for a long-term vision for rural areas

On December 2, Northern Sparsely Populated Areas (NSPA) met for the last steering committee meeting of the year. The network adopted a position on the final negotiations of Cohesion Policy 2021-2027 and one on the EU initiative for a long-term vision for rural areas. The meeting was also the last for Nils-Olof Lindfors as a chairman before the presidency goes over to North Norway in 2021. North Sweden’s interns got to change a few words about his two past years as the chairman of the NSPA

Safeguard the special  allocation to NSPA regions in  Cohesion Policy  2021-2027   

The final  negotiations on the  next long-term budget (MFF)  have  been  one  of the  big  topics  this  autumn after an initial budget  agreement  was  reached by the Council in  July 2020.  Regarding the  negotiations on the  cohesion policy, NSPA has  especially  followed the  negotiations  of a  newly  established  capping  mechanism which  will limit Finland and  Sweden's national  envelopes to 80% and 90%  of the  20214-2020 total  allocation Although  this  mechanism  should not  affect the special  allocation to the NSPA regions (as  regulated in the 1994  Act  of Accession), the NSPA calls for the EU to  clarify the regional  exemption from the national  capping  mechanism Accounting for a  significant part  of  both  northern Sweden and  Finland's  structural  fund  allocation, it is  of  great  importance  that the EU  safeguard  this special  allocation to  sparsely  populated areas and the legal status  of the  European Arctic.    

Integration  of investment instruments for  coordinated action  towards  climate  neutrality   

NSPA  welcomes the  increased  climate and  environmental ambitions  within the EU,  including the  climate  objectives in the  recovery  fund  Next Generation EU.  Although, the NSPA  stresses the  importance  that the actions for  resilience and  sustainable  development  through different  funds and  programmes  interlink in  coordination  with  each  other to  avoid  financial  crowding and  parallel policy  structures. Regional  coordination is a  key  resource in  this, and NSPA  especially  underlines the  role  of  strategies for Smart  Specialisation (S3) as  they  constitute  both an  analytical  basis and  strategic  coordination  of  efforts for  sustainable regional  development. It is  also  important  that the  funds  can be  used for the  specific  needs  of  each region,  such as  infrastructure and  broadband which  are  topics  up for  discussion in the final  negotiations  between the Council and the  European  Parliament  

NSPA's  views on the long-term vision for rural areas   

European Commission has  launched an  initiative for a long-term vision for rural areas and  had a public  consultation  open  until the 30th  of  November to  collect  views on  current  opportunities and  challenges in rural areas  across  Europe. The meeting  adopted a position on the  matter, in  which NSPA  questioned  that the  European Agricultural  Fund for Rural  Development (EAFRD) has  been  proposed to not be part  of the common  framework for the  cohesion policy in the  next  programme period. NSPA  argues  that the EARFD  should not be  exclusive for rural areas  with  traditional  agricultural  businesses  but  also be  designed as a  continued  development  tool for  remote less  densely  populated areas  with a  harsh  climate to  truly  link  local rural, regional and urban  development for  more  effective  sustainable  growth  efforts. NSPA  also  pushes for  that  northernmost  Europe must be part  of the EU ambitions to  contribute to rural  development which in  turn is  linked to the OECD  study  launched by NSPA and  presented in Brussels in 2017.    

Thank  you Nils-Olov for  your  time as  chairman  of the NSPA! 

The  NSPA's  presidency and  secretariat  rotate  between the  countries  where the Brussels  offices and the  political representatives  take  turns leading the  work  of the NSPA. North Sweden and Nils-Olof Lindfors, regional  councillor in  Norrbotten, has  had the position  since 2018. North  Norway and Tomas  Norvoll chairman  of the Nordland  county will  take over the  work  of leading the NSPA in 2021 and for the  following  two  years.     

After  his  first  time as  chairman  of the NSPA  network, Nils-Olov has  many  good  memories and  experiences to  share. Nils-Olof  believes  that the NSPA  network is a  great  way to support  cooperation  between the  northernmost parts  of Sweden,  Norway and Finland.  With common  challenges and  opportunities  can the 13 NSPA regions  advocate for  similar  needs in the EU arena.  One common  ground is  their  important  contribution to the EU in the coming  years  

-EU has on  several occasions  drawn attention to the  role  of the NSPA regions in the green  transition With  both  expertise and  big  natural  resources we  have an  important  role to  contribute to the  climate and  renewable  energy  goals in the EU.  This  was  especially evident  when the President  of the  European Commission, Ursula von  der  Leyen highlighted  Sweden's  work on 'steel  without  coal' as a  successful  example  of innovative  climate  initiatives.     

At the same  time, Nils-Olov  points  out  that it is a  challenge to get the same  response from the national  levels. Nils-Olof  stresses the  importance  of  consistent  advocacy  work on the national  level, for  instance by  arranging  discussion forums or  external events, in order to  demonstrate  what  important  role  northern Sweden has in the green  transition.    

Nils-Olof has  created  many fond  memories  during  his  two  years as  chairman  of the NSPA.   One  of the  things  he has  appreciated the  most is to  get to  see the  many  good  examples  of  how cross-border  cooperation  leads to  great  results in the EU arena.    

-My feeling for the NSPA is  that it  is not  only a  lot  of 'sweet talks'  but  also a  lot  of  work  that  leads to real  results.      

Read NSPA's  position on the final negotiations of Cohesion Policy 2021-2027 here

Read NSPA's position on EU's initiative for a long-term vision for rural areas here

02 Dec 2020