How is rural development supported?
Rural development efforts are based on the different characteristics of different areas, skills and competence, collaboration and networking, sustainable development, and equal opportunities for different groups of people to participate and earn a livelihood. Rural areas are developed through local, regional, national and international collaboration.
Rural areas across the EU have similar strengths and face similar challenges. Therefore, the EU has its own rural development policy. EU Member States prepare strategic rural development programmes, which are co-financed by the EU. National rural policy measures and regional decision-making are also needed.
Local activity and citizen involvement are well-established elements of Finnish rural development activities, and the aim is to further strengthen the model. Each rural entrepreneur, expert, authority and active citizen is a rural operator and developer. Development efforts usually concern entrepreneurship, skills, employment, connections, environment, access to services, or special regional matters. Each of the 15 Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres) and 54 Leader Local Action Groups have engaged in extensive collaboration and prepared regional strategies outlining development priorities for the programme period. The strategies are implemented in an open manner, and all operators are welcome to participate.
EU-funded rural development activities are based on the principle of economic and social cohesion enshrined in the EU Treaty. Based on the principle, the Union aims to reduce disparities between the development levels of different regions. The Finnish Structural Funds programme emphasises livelihood and employment matters. Funding focuses on Eastern and Northern Finland. The development of all rural areas is supported through the development activities included in the Rural Development Programme. Fishing industries are supported through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, in accordance with the programme.