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OECD: Northern regions play important role in Europe

An OECD report on the development in Northern Europe launched in Brussels this week. – The results are of governmental interest, and we will make active use it, says State Secretary Grete Ellingsen.

The report, completed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on behalf of the Northern Sparsely populated Areas (NSPA), was launched in Brussels on 13 March.

The NSPA network consists of 14 northern regions in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The study shows that the regions contribute to growth and productivity in Europe, but also sets out policy recommendations at local, national and cross-border levels to enhance prosperity and wellbeing across the NSPA.

- NSPA regions have an important economic role within Europe. In order to to reach their potential, future growth will need to come from increasing productivity and lifting workforce participation, said Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary-General of OECD.

Recommends closer cooperation

The NSPA network's mandate is primarily to influence the EU, but the OECD also urges the network to strengthen the cooperation and coordination between national and regional government.

- The report underlines the need to strengthen the focus on local measures to create the growth that both Norway and Europe need. In addition, the report provides clear recommendations and guidance to national authorities to take northern regions seriously. For example, the report states that it is important to increase the focus on innovation in Troms County, because we are lagging behind, said the President of County Government in Troms, Cecilie Myrseth.

Will make use of the report

State Secretary at the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, Grete Ellingsen, was present at the launch. She shared her views on a panel with representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament and the NSPA-network.

- The results of the report are of governmental interest, and we will make active use of it. Being able to maintain growth in the north and bring growth into new and sustainable forms is an important aim for the government, said Ellingsen.

The State Secretary stated that the government has already implemented several of the OECD recommendations, and stressed that it will be up to politicians in Northern Norway to make use of the report in their conversations with national authorities.

- We have established a forum of dialog, where politicians at national level, county level and the Sami Parliament meet and set the agenda. The next step for the northern regions will be to address the OECD recommendations in the dialog forum, said Ellingsen.