26 / 05 / 2023

Kvarken Council’s First Strategy as a European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation

Members of the Kvarken Council EGTC approved a new and thoroughly revised strategy for Kvarken cooperation for 2030 in the grouping’s annual general meeting on May 26th, 2023.

The Kvarken Council’s membership, extending over three Ostrobothnian counties in Finland and the regions of Västerbotten and Västernorrland in Sweden, have together with their collaboration partners actively participated in the creation of the new Cross-Border Development Strategy 2030.

Strategy’s Focus Areas

The strategy maps out the way for cross-border cooperation that is both prioritized in the Kvarken region and that affects Nordic cooperation in the region.

The purpose of the jointly approved vision is to create the most meaningful handprint through Nordic cooperation. Handprint is used to refer to the positive impact and change that cooperation leaves behind for future generations.

In the same way that a hand has five fingers, the imprint is described in the form of five priority areas:
Demographics and Attractiveness
Green Transition
Competence and Learning
Interaction Between Residents

– These priority areas have been identified as the most current common denominators in the Kvarken region, and they are now included in the documents that steer the Kvarken Council’s activities.

All priority areas include ongoing actions or actions that will be launched according to signals from the region and by the Board’s decision. The entirety is a living document due to actions that are constantly updated, and the purpose of all this is to develop our region into a successful region to live, reside, and work in – both for the individual person as well as for companies and industries, explains Mr Mathias Lindström, Director of the Kvarken Council.

A Joint Demonstration of Resolve

The new organizational structure, the EGTC, reinforces the engagement of members and collaboration partners in the activities. Discussion sessions, joint working meetings, and statement rounds have been organized for members and collaboration partners so that they can express their wishes and influence the creation of this first strategy based on completely new conditions.

– Our activities and actions have already previously been guided by our members’ needs, but this organizational form allows new opportunities and methods of application, tells Mr Joakim Strand, Finnish MP and outgoing Chairman of the Kvarken Council’s Board.

– Compared to many other Nordic cross-border committees, the Kvarken Council EGTC and its members have a unique opportunity to jointly discuss, prioritize, and coordinate development work that requires so-called multi-level governance in order to be implemented efficiently, Mr Strand continues.

Democratically Anchored Organization

Up until 2021, the Kvarken Council was a non-profit organization that functioned as a Nordic, cross-border cooperation committee co-funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. It was reorganized into an EGTC in order to create a clearer and more democratically anchored organization that takes on a more substantive and explicit financial responsibility for cross-border cooperation. The EGTC is the European Commission’s own legal body.

The Kvarken Council EGTC has a strong democratic legitimacy through its clear membership composition and Board representation, preparations, and the annual general meeting of its members, alongside the method of operation that was created through reorganization. The organization’s chairmanship alternates regularly between the countries of Finland and Sweden.

The strategy that was prepared and approved by the members is an important tool in the activities as well as a demonstration of resolve created on and for a regional, national, and European level. The whole strategy and its vision, focus areas, and actions can be found HERE.

Happy faces at the annual meeting. In the photo: the Kvarken Council’s newly elected Chairman Rickard Carstedt and Vice chairmen Åsa Ågren Wikström and Anna-Kaisa Pusa. Vice Chairman Joakim Strand is missing from the picture.