Border between Finland and Russia is one of the smoothest borders between EU and Russia. One of the concrete examples of a well working cross-border cooperation in the Barents Region is Euregio Karelia cooperation forum, which has been a tool to enable and enhance the cross-border cooperation in a very significant way.
Euregio Karelia was the first Euro-Region on the land-border between EU and Russia. Kainuu, North Karelia, Northern Ostrobothnia and Republic of Karelia founded Euregio Karelia in 2000, after the first Interreg A programme was implemented. The purpose was to deepen programme and project-based cooperation and to bring long-term strategic and political guidance into the cooperation.
The basis of Euregio Karelia cooperation is the common aim of the partner regions to improve living conditions of inhabitants through cross-border cooperation. Objectives of the cooperation are:
- promoting cross-border activities of inhabitants and organisations by easing the border crossing formalities and by promoting the opening of new border crossing points
- promoting the wellbeing of inhabitants by increasing employment and promoting equality
- promoting the development of industries by developing the infrastructure of border regions, such as the functionality of border crossing points, road connections and data connections, utilities and environmental conditions
- promoting the safety of inhabitants by preventing international crime
- increasing the cooperation between inhabitants in the field of culture
- coordinating cooperation projects on the regional level within the authority of Euregio Karelia
- promoting the EU funding and other funding for joint projects within the region
- clarifying the concept of Northern Dimension from the regions' point of view by developing regional cooperation models on the external borders of the EU
Like stated in Main Directions of Euregio Karelia 2020 the main focus of the cooperation is infrastructure and connections, business, social well-being, youth, education and research, and the environment.
We believe that human encountering and interaction is the most important tool to familiarize ourselves to each other. Without possibilities to physically cross the borders it is difficult to cross borders mentally.
We have invested in border crossing facilities and infrastructures, improved roads and border inspection places to ensure swift and easy border crossing with several projects and have contributed, through joint lobbying, that Kuusamo-Suoperä border crossing point was opened to international traffic in 2006.