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Quality of Finnish public services among best in world
Finland beats other EU countries, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia
Public services and administration in Finland are seen to be among the most efficient in the world. According to a study conducted during the Dutch EU Presidency in 2004, the cost-effectiveness of Finnish administration is good, compared with the rest of the EU. Finland also did well with respect to the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
The study extensively analysed the effectiveness of economic policy, public finances, and public administration. It also compared education, health care, anti-crime efforts, and administrative effectiveness in the various countries.
The starting point for the study was the goal set in the Lisbon Declaration to make the EU the most competitive economic zone in the world.
Based on a number of analyses, Finland rose to the top of the list. The other Nordic Countries also placed well, but they were not seen to be part of the "efficiency front", which includes Luxembourg and Ireland - two countries with smaller public sectors.
In a previous study conducted by the European Central Bank, Finland was ranked as average among OECD countries in public sector cost-effectiveness, and in the ratio of productivity to public consumption, it was last but one, with Sweden bringing up the tail end.
Jaakko Kuusela of the Finnish Ministry of Finance attributes the improvement in Finland’s standing to the fact that the researchers of the ECB used data from 1990-2000 as the basis of its study. At that time, the results were affected by a deep recession.
The Dutch study focused on the 1995-2003 period.
Kuusela says that the value of the new study for Finland is enhanced by the fact that it uses measures that reflect "Nordic values", placing considerable weight on gender equality.
"The study is typified by pragmatism - it focuses attention on actual results."
Kuusela does not find an answer in the study to the question of how to operate in the future, and how services should be arranged and financed. All EU countries face the same challenges - especially the rising costs of health care.