The Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission have agreed on a temporary recovery instrument, Next Generation EU (“NGEU”), to stimulate the European economy after the COVID-19 crisis. At the heart of the NGEU is the Recovery and Resilience Facility (“RRF”), which involves 750 billion euros of grants and loans aimed at repairing the immediate economic and social damage brought about by the pandemic in the Member States. In this context, Finland will receive approximately 2.1 billion euros.
Finland’s Recovery and Resilience Plan was published on 26 May 2021 and it is envisaged to boost investment in emissions-reducing solutions, accelerate sustainable growth in the economy, and create long-term growth potential. Half of the funding involved will be for promoting a green transition, and about a quarter will be for digitalisation. The Plan will also boost public investment in research, development and innovation.
Finland’s Recovery and Resilience Plan will come under review of the European Council in September 2021.
Outline of National Recovery Plan
Finland has applied for approximately 2.1 billion euros in grants. The ultimate amount granted for Finland will not be known until summer 2022, as the performance of the economy in 2021 and 2022 will affect the figures.
The Finnish Recovery and Resilience Plan is centred on four priorities:
- Green transition
The key goals include making Finland a world leader in the hydrogen and circular economies, and in emission-free energy systems and other climate and environmental solutions. The aim is also to improve energy efficiency and accelerate the transition to fossil-free transport and heating. Green transition projects focus on areas such as clean energy production, including solar power, offshore wind energy, biogas and waste heat recovery, low-emission innovations, e.g. investments in hydrogen technology and circular economy demonstration plants and support for the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
The estimated funding is 822 million euros.
The goals are to create a competitive operating environment for businesses and to turn Finland into a world-class producer of data-driven services for digital societies, together with secure solutions for these services. This includes solutions that promote digitalisation in the transport sector. The Plan will strengthen the digital transition in society through measures that boost digital, technological and data investments.
Digitalisation projects focus on areas such as rail transport digitalisation, investments in leading edge technologies such as 6G networks, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and microelectronics.
The estimated funding is 217 million euros.
- Employment and skills
The goals include renewing jobseeker services by making them more customer-oriented and taking advantage of digitalisation in such services. Work-based immigration will also be streamlined and wellbeing at work promoted, and people with impaired capacity for work will be able to find employment more successfully. Long-term growth will be promoted by raising skill levels among both young people and adults. Further opportunities will be created for continuous learning, with a focus on opportunities that are not location dependent.
Employment and skills projects focus on areas such as digital services for continuous learning and use of digitalisation in higher education institutions. Funds from the Employment and skills priority are also intended to accelerate renewal, recovery, and sustainable growth in sectors most affected by the pandemic crisis, i.e. travel and tourism, the creative economy and the events sector.
The estimated funding is 636 million euros.
- Health and social services
During the COVID-19 pandemic many people have not had access to health and social services or have had to wait to access services. An important aim of the health and social services priority is to reduce the backlog in care, rehabilitation and other services which has built up as a result of the pandemic. The key goals also include adopting new multidisciplinary and multi-professional practices in healthcare and social welfare for promoting the health and wellbeing of the population. New digital services will also be introduced.
Areas of investment include e.g. reducing the backlog in care, rehabilitation and other services and new, efficiency-promoting digital services to service users and health and social services professionals.
The estimated funding is 400 million euros.
As the Finnish recovery plan is pending approval, there is currently no applicable legislation on eligibility for funds. However, it has already been established that of the funding to be made available through the European Union's recovery facility, around 150-170 million euros per year will be granted through Business Finland between 2021 and 2023. Overall, the funding proposed to be granted through Business Finland totals around 530 million euros. Other relevant State Aid authorities include the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Transport and Communications Agency and the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (local offices of the Finnish government placed in each of the regions of Finland).