New regional administration model abolishes provinces in 2010
Finland’s division into six provinces is coming to an end from the beginning of 2010.
Changes in legislation on regional administration is abolishing the provinces, and the posts of the provincial governors. The administrative tasks of the provinces will be taken over by six Regional Administrative Agencies (AVI), as well as 15 Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY).
The outgoing division into provinces dates back to 1997 when the number of provinces was reduced from 12 to 6.
At that time, there was much debate about the move, with some traditionalists feeling that it would weaken regional identity, especially in rural areas. By contrast, the latest reform seems to be passing with very little public debate.
The division into provinces dates back to the days of Swedish Queen Christina, who decreed in 1634 that Finland should be divided into four provinces, or governorships - Turku, Uusimaa-Häme, Vyborg, and Ostrobothnia.
Provinces have come and gone since then. Now the latest reform is abolishing them altogether.
The Regional Administrative Agencies and the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, which replace the provinces, are unlikely to serve as focal points of regional identity. However, Finland will continue to be divided into regions, or “historical provinces”, and associations of regions.
However, unlike the outgoing provinces, the regions are not governed top-down by the state, but rather by the municipalities that they contain.
Provinces of Finland (Wikipedia)
Reform Project for Regional Administration (Ministry of Finance website)
Changes in Finnish regional state administration 2010
The websites of the Regional State Administrative Agencies and Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment will open on 4 January 2010 (scroll down for English).