Finland is one of the most rural countries in Europe. Within the European Union economic success is usually linked to urban environments and easy access. This is not fully the case in Finland: our economy has been doing quite well even if a significant part of the population lives in areas which are both rural and poorly accessible. We have seen that fairly equitable conditions for growth and success can be created independent of the type of region and specific location.
Finland has long traditions in Leader work, which extends to all rural regions of the country. In the current programming period the methodology has also been tested by means of ESF funding. Finland also has a long history in neighbourly help and voluntary work, which have been proven to have favourable impacts on human wellbeing and sense of community.
Leader groups help people to take up human-scale ideas that may lead to better services and more attractive environments. Boosted by Leader funding, even small companies create growth and may reach international markets.
In today’s networked society we operate across various kinds of borders, and this trend will be further accelerated by digitalisation. The community closest to us is no longer defined by geographical boundaries, but it extends very easily from rural to urban areas and even to the other side of the globe. Leader provides an excellent instrument to support this kind of collaboration.
People’s trust in the functioning of the EU administration and the benefits to be gained is often put to test. The EU must come closer to the day-to-day living of the people and improve the citizens’ opportunities to participate. The ways to promote this participation, such as Leader, must be further strengthened in all financial instruments of the EU.
LINC is a regularly arranged European conference which combines European exchange of experience with sport events and European culinary. LINC is an initiative from LAGs (Local Action Groups) and National Network Units for rural development in Austria, Germany, Estonia and Finland.
This year’s LINC is held in south-western town of Rauma, Finland, where the diversity of the Finnish countryside is strongly present: urban-adjacent rural area, rural heartland area, and sparsely populated rural area, which here mainly means the archipelago. The different types of rural areas are a varied source of wellbeing for the whole country.
Jari Leppä. Minister of Agriculture and Forestry
Read more: http://www.linc2018.eu/