Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, a number of actions have been taken regarding regional development and structural funds in Lapland. These include additional calls for projects, changes and adjustments in ongoing projects, and shift of focus on upcoming calls in order to minimize the negative effects of the COVID-19.
Regional Council of Lapland has opened an additional call for projects to find and support measures that will help to overcome the immediate negative impact of COVID-19. The projects must be implemented by the end of 2020 and maximum ERDF financing can be 100.000 euros per project. As an exception from usual requirements, the maximum funding is raised to 90 % of total costs for this call. These projects will be funded within the existing budget of ERDF. Project evaluation and decision making processes have been adjusted to ensure that projects may approved as quickly as possible.
In line with these measures, there has been an additional call of European Social Fund and Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre). Direct support for SMEs has been available through national funding, in which ELY Centres, Business Finland and municipalities are the intermediary organisations.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has issued guidelines that will help existing projects to meet their project plans and goals. These changes include the possible extension of projects, and if necessary, extending of the 3-year maximum period of implementation by the decision of the intermediary organisation. Due to restrictions of travel and measures to limit social interaction, there has been a great demand to change the approved project plans, and especially in projects with international activities and cooperation.
From June 1, the Regional Council will open another call that will have these issues related to the crisis as one of its main themes. This call will be open until the end of 2020. The projects are funded from Finland’s Structural Funds Programme (ERDF). The projects must meet the criteria of the programme, and the measures to be taken cover both business and research, development and innovation related priorities.
Regional Council of Lapland will continue to work closely with the municipalities and other stakeholders to monitor and support COVID-19 related measures and projects in coming months.
* Image by Studio Artica - Lapin materiaalipankki