The regional councils in Finland have a statutory responsibility for regional Development, international cooperation being a part of these activities. The regional councils are the regions’ key international actors and they are largely responsible for the EU’s Structural Fund programmes and their implementation. Regional councils also have the key role in promoting the region’s interests.

According to the charter of the Regional Council of Kainuu, the organisation supervises the region’s interests in national and international politics, creating and maintaining partnerships with organisations inside and outside the region. The Regional Council of Kainuu cooperates with organisations in Finland and abroad via different kinds of networks.

The international activities of the Regional Council of Kainuu implement the common development goals of the region, with an aim at supporting the positive development of the region. One of the basic issues related to international activities is also reinforcing public awareness about the Kainuu region and promoting positive image of the region.

International Networks

Regional Council of Kainuu is a member in several international networks, through which we seek to promote the interests of our region and the positive development of our region.

Visit the EU Office Website

The East and North Finland EU office represents the interests of its member regions in Brussels. In close collaboration with the regional councils the Brussels office aims to improve the competitiveness and conditions of the businesses throughout the East and North of Finland.

International Funding Programmes

International regional development policy initiatives are an important instrument for Kainuu. Kainuu based organisations may apply for project funding from several funding programmes.

Barents Euro-Arctic Cooperation

The Barents cooperation area includes altogether 13 administrative regions in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The member areas from Finland are Kainuu, Lapland, Northern Ostrobothnia and Northern Karelia.

Barents Euro-Arctic Cooperation

The Barents Council is the official body for inter-governmental co-operation in the Barents Region. It seeks solutions wherever and whenever the countries can achieve more together than by working on their own. The Barents organisation works in two levels, via intergovernmental Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) and inter-regional Barents Regional Council (BRC), assisted by Regional Committee (RC) and supplemented by the working groups.

Barents Youth

BRYC (Barents Regional Youth Council) is a multinational youth council consisting of youth representatives from the Northern regions of Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden. BRYC was established to promote the interests of young people living in the Barents Region. Their mission is to strengthen people-to-people cooperation among youth and empower young people to be active participants of their societies. BRYC's five core values are: Cooperation, tolerence, reliability, fairness and respect.

Barents Sports

Barents Games is a sports festival comprising of 30 different sports. The games are an arena for both sporting and cultural exchange and makes people-to-people cooperation between the four countries in the Barents region possible. The Barents Games are annually arranged by one of the Barents member regions. The event is aimed at young people aged 15–25 and involving up to 10.000 young adults every year.

Co-operation With Russia

The history of cooperation between Kainuu and Russia is long. The most important time for development of the connections was the building of Kostomuksha during years 1974 – 1983. After that, the close cooperation has continued in different forms. However, in spring 2022, the cooperation was put to a halt due to the situation in Ukraine.

Regional Activities in Kainuu

The Kainuu region’s cooperation with Russia is coordinated by the document ”Russia Strategy 2021-2027”, which was accepted by the regional board in June 2021. The strategy aims to implement the objectives of the regional program by activating and diversifying the development in the region. There also is a ”Russia Strategy Work Group” with the task to promote and monitor the implementation of the strategy and to anticipate the changes in the operating environment.

Euregio Karelia Cooperation

The cooperation area and a political forum of Euregio Karelia is formed by the regions of Kainuu, North Karelia and Northern Ostrobothnia in Finland and the Republic of Karelia in Russia. The basis of all activities is the common aim of the partner areas to improve living conditions of inhabitants through cross-border cooperation.

Karelia CBC Programme

The region of Kainuu, together with the Finnish regions of Northern Ostrobothnia and Northern Karelia, has participated cross-border cooperation with the Republic of Karelia via a series of EU programmes. The latest of these programmes was Karelia CBC Programme 2014-2020. At the moment, planning of any new programmes is on hold.

Our Team of International Affairs

The international affairs and communications are considered as a part of the tasks of each and every one of the employees of the Regional Council of Kainuu. The general responsibility of international affairs lies ith the Regional mayor. In addition, there are designated contact persons for EU cooperation (Regional Development Director Jouni Ponnikas) and for cooperation with Russia (Regional Development Manager Katja Sukuvaara, or her Deputy).

The coordination and the Development of international activities have been concentrated to the International Team managed by the Regional Mayor. The team reports to the executive board and informs the rest of the staff about the international affairs. The international team invites experts to its meetings when necessary.

Co-operation with other Organisations in International Affairs

Within the Kainuu region, the goal of the Regional Council is to bring together the internationally oriented and internationally functioning organisations and to activate and to coordinate the international cooperation. The unofficial network of internationally functioning organisations in Kainuu gathers when needed to discuss current matters. The meetings are open to all organisations interested in the subject.

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