Objectives for regional growth
The goal of regional growth policy is development potential in all parts of the country with stronger local and regional competitiveness.
The Government's overall goal is for Sweden to have the lowest unemployment in the EU in 2020. This requires more jobs and sustainable growth throughout the country. Among other things, the Government wants to see a new industrialisation of Sweden, investments in roads, railways and broadband and a secured supply of knowledge to companies, even outside the metropolitan regions, through more places in higher education.
A modern and active regional growth policy for the entire country is focused on giving the regions the opportunity to grow and develop based on their own specific circumstances, in both urban and rural areas. The greater the number of strong, expansive regions, the better it is for Sweden.
The Government's priorities for sustainable regional growth are:
- Innovation and entrepreneurship
- Attractive environments and accessibility
- Provision of skills
- International and cooperation
Essential elements of a modern regional growth policy are improved support for business development and access to financing, a functioning labour supply, access to public and commercial services, education and training and to investments in information technology and infrastructure.
The opportunity to offer attractive living and residential environments for women and men is vital to creating regions that are able to attract, retain and develop skills, as well as businesses and capital. The attractiveness, growth potential and employment opportunities of Sweden as a whole are to be utilised in a way that contributes to sustainable regional growth and development. This involves the explicit integration of the environment, gender equality and integration into regional growth efforts.
EU Cohesion Policy
Regional growth policy also encompasses EU Cohesion Policy, the goal of which is to contribute to economic, social and territorial cohesion within the EU. Sweden's strategy for using resources from the European Structural and Investment Funds is laid down in the Partnership Agreement that aims to fulfil the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy of smart and sustainable growth for all.
Sweden's partnership agreement has the following priorities:
- Promote competitiveness, knowledge and innovation
- Strengthen sustainable and efficient use of resources for sustainable growth
- Increase employment, promote employability and improve the accessibility of the labour market
EU Cohesion Policy is part of the implementation of the regional growth policy. The regional fund and the social fund are one part of EU Cohesion Policy that primarily aim to reinforce the competitiveness of EU countries.
The regional fund programmes encompass investments in jobs and growth with a total value of SEK 16 billion. Eighty per cent of these funds, close to SEK 13 billion, are targeted at strengthening innovation capacity, the transition to a low-carbon economy and improving the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, for example through improved supply of capital, internationalisation and education.
Sweden is also covered by 13 European territorial cooperation programmes. In total, approximately SEK 14 billion will be provided, which will mainly be allocated to the following priorities:
- Strengthening cross-border innovation systems,
- promoting competitiveness in businesses in border regions,
- developing unique cross-border natural and cultural environments,
- promoting adaptation to energy, environmental and climate challenges, and
- contributing to sustainable transport through strengthened planning of infrastructure and communications.