Reshaping of regionalisation
In autumn 2019 the Ministry of Finance set up a strategy project for reforming regionalisation. The aim of the project was to draw up strategic guidelines on the type of central government activities and presence to be pursued regionally in the 2020s. The project also identified some of the changes that this would require in the objectives and operating principles of regionalisation. The strategy work was based on the entries in the Government Programme stating that the legislation on regionalisation should be reformed, and that central government tasks should be organised on a multi-location basis, making use of the opportunities for a location-independent approach provided by smart technology. The regionalisation reform strategy was submitted to Minister of Local Government Sirpa Paatero on 22 April 2020. The strategy proposes that central government's regional presence should in future be based more strongly on service needs and on the need to organise official tasks cost-effectively. A central government presence would also be needed to reinforce regional vitality, safety and security, and to boost the competitiveness of central government as an employer.
In accordance with the Government Programme and the regionalisation reform strategy, the Ministry of Finance launched preparations in autumn 2020 for amending the legislation. The aim is to amend the statutory objectives for central government’s regional presence in line with the strategic guidelines and to strengthen the systematic nature of the activities and coordination of everything as a whole. A draft of the government proposal was widely circulated for comments between 16 December 2020 and 10 February 2021. The proposal is that legislation should be enacted on the criteria for determining the availability of central government services and locating units and functions, and at the same time the existing Act on the Authority to Locate Government Units and Functions (362/2002) would be repealed.
In its current form, regionalisation refers to locating central government units and functions outside the Greater Helsinki area. Regionalisation was begun towards the end of 2000 and is based on Act 362/2002 and on the Government Decree on the Authority to Locate Government Units and Functions (567/2002, as amended by 201/2006, 349/2008 and 350/2011). The reform would repeal the current Act and Decree and at the same time would abandon the concept of regionalisation and the distinction between the Greater Helsinki area and the rest of Finland. The proposed new legislation would set out new general objectives concerning the location of central government functions and services, and the procedures for coordination.
Anu Nousiainen, anu.nousiainen(at)vm.fi
Janne Öberg, janne.öberg(at)vm.fi