In the 2014-2020 programming period, the total budget for sports development projects implemented in Lapland is approximately EUR 10 million.
Of this number, the share of Structural Fund projects is about 5.9 million euros and the share of interregional projects is 1.5 million euros. Projects supporting sports opportunities have also been implemented with the support of the European Agricultural Funds (EAFRD) with EUR 2.8 million, of which LEADER projects account for about EUR 2 million.
The assessment includes projects on a large scale and includes project related to e.g. sports tourism and artificial snow. Cycling tourism is emerging as a major theme among the projects: in December 2020, 1.6 million EUR worth of cycling projects were ongoing across Lapland. Six of these projects have been funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), four by the EAFRD, and one by the Interreg Nord program (future Interreg Aurora). Cycling tourism is a growing trend, but also a way to tackle the loss of international tourism during covid-19.
Funding used by variety of actors
Most of the funding from structural funds is used by Lapland University of Applied Sciences and Santasport (Lapland Sport Institute), in addition to which the funds have been used by municipalities and various associations such as clubs and regional tourism organizations.
International projects have been implemented by Lapland University of Applied Sciences, the University of Lapland, the Natural Resources Institute (LUKE) and the City of Kemi. In interregional funding the emphasis is on the Erasmus + program, but the programmes also include Horizon 2020, Interreg Nord and Interreg Europe.
In EAFRD projects, municipalities and associations are active beneficiaries, and funding has supported e.g. various investments such as repairing and development of routes and community centres. In addition, the programmes have supported business development projects and investments that are not included in the figures.
Next programming period expected to start in the end of 2021
The next Finnish Structural Funds programme (2021-2017) is expected to start in September 2021. Before that, there will be opportunities during spring 2021 in the so-called REACT-EU recovery fund, which aims to minimize the economic damage caused by the covid-19 pandemic and promote green and digital recovery.
One of the goals of the Arctic Sport network is to get more Lappish organisations to benefit from EU funding. As the current programming period has shown, EU funding can also be used in a variety of ways to develop the sports sector although sport as such isn’t a theme in the programmes. In the draft for the forthcoming Finnish European Social Fund (ESF) operational programme there is, however, a specific objective of developing opportunities for children and young people in vulnerable position to have hobbies such as sport.
Photo source: Lapland mediabank| Lumo Image