The municipalities organise services for their residents. Most of these services are defined as statutory duties of local governments. In addition to their statutory duties, municipalities may assume other self-government tasks, which usually are relevant to the economy, employment and housing. There are 310 local governments in Finland, 107 of which are known as cities and 203 as municipalities.
The regional councils are statutory joint municipal authorities that operate following the principles of local self-government. The regional councils serve as regional development and land using planning authorities, and consequently they are leading actors in planning and overseeing the counties’ interests. In addition to land use planning, the regional councils’ duties include the preparation of regional programmes and regional plans, their implementation plans and regional EU programmes. In addition to their statutory mandate, the regional councils have a broad scope of voluntary tasks determined by each region’s special characteristics. There are 18 regional councils in Finland.