Reform of regional government

The purpose of this regional government reform is to harmonise the State regional administration with county government administration and to rationalise the organisation of public-sector administration at State, regional and municipal levels. As the primary solution, the Government Programme envisages the centralisation of functions into clear, autonomous regions – counties – in terms of tasks and authority.

Government policy outline of 5 April 2016

In negotiations held on 5 April 2016, the Government outlined the responsibilities that will be assigned to the counties as from the beginning of 2019. The responsibilities of the counties will be based on a clear division of duties between the local government, the county and the central government.

  • Municipalities will continue to exist as communities of local involvement, democracy, culture and vitality that handle the duties related to municipal self-government as decided by the residents (general mandate) and local duties defined by law. In accordance with the principles of current legislation, the municipalities will remain responsible for handling and promoting employment. The municipalities will also continue to be responsible for promoting competence and culture as well as health and wellbeing, and for sports services, youth services, cultural services and other leisure services, local industrial policy, land use, construction and urban planning.
  • Counties will be responsible for healthcare and social welfare, rescues services, environmental healthcare, regional development duties and tasks related to the promotion of business enterprise, planning and steering of the use of regions as well as promoting the identity and culture of the counties. In addition, the counties will be responsible for other statutory regional services assigned to the counties.
  • The central government will uphold and develop the rule of law, safeguard fundamental rights and evaluate their implementation, and assume responsibility for security. It will also perform international and national tasks as well as supervise equality and public interest. The organisation of central government administrative duties will be based on the principle of national competence, also when the duties require a local or regional presence. The principle of central government administrative duties is to follow uniform national practices in operating methods and decisions.

The changes affect various authorities

The counties will take over some of the tasks of the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, Employment and Economic Development Offices, Regional State Administrative Agencies, regional councils and municipalities. The Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, Employment and Economic Development Offices and regional councils will cease to exist as from 1 January 2019.

All of the statutory duties handled by the regional councils will be transferred to the counties. Most of the duties of the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment will also be transferred to the counties. While some of these duties will still be performed by the central government, they will be reorganised. The responsibility for providing the services of the Employment and Economic Development Offices will be transferred to the counties. The organiser-producer model will be applied in providing these services. The counties in the main will agree on the provision of employment and economic development services with municipal, private-sector and third-sector producers that meet the criteria laid down in legislation.

The provision of rescue services and pre-hospital emergency care will be assigned to five counties that maintain a university hospital based on the counties’ collaborative catchment areas. All of the counties will organise the duties of rescue services and finance their provision.

The current six Regional State Administrative Agencies will be formed into a single authority with nationwide responsibilities. The new regional state authority will operate in regional units or offices. Environmental supervision and nature conservation, handled by the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, will be merged into the regional state authority.

In the reorganisation process, the need for personnel to move from one location to another will be minimised.

New legislation will enter into force from the beginning of 2019

A number of legislative amendments will be required to implement the county government reform. Each ministry will immediately initiate the drafting of legislative amendments in its branch of administration.

The objective is that the draft government proposal on carrying out the transfer of duties in special legislation; the funding of the duties assigned to the county government other than those related to healthcare and social welfare; and the proposals on developing the operation of the regional state authority and its nationwide responsibilities as well as the proposals on the organisation of environmental administration tasks would be completed by the end of 2016.

The Government intends to present bills on the contents and steering of law enforcement in counties and municipalities in 2017. The new legislation will enter into force from the beginning of 2019.

Further preparatory measures

To continue preparation of the reform, the Ministry of Finance will appoint a project group on county government reform and the required working groups.

Further information in Finnish:

  • Tarja Hyvönen, Senior Government Adviser, tel. +358 2955 30147
  • Mikko Saarinen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2955 30047