Regional Cohesion and Competitiveness programme 'COCO'
The Regional Cohesion and Competitiveness Programme, COCO, is the Government’s special programme for regional policy for the programme period 2010–2013. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy is responsible for the national coordination of the programme. COCO was launched on 1 January 2010 and will continue until the end of 2013.
Preparation of COCO was launched in accordance with the Government Programme and the Government’s decision on regional development objectives, for the purpose of simplifying the regional development programme system and enhancing its effectiveness. Of the regional development special programmes being implemented at present, the Regional Centre Programme (RCP), including urban centre programmes implemented in Uusimaa, the Regional Section for Rural Areas of the Special Rural Policy Programme, and the local and regional implementation of the Island Development Programme, will be merged in COCO. The Centre of Expertise programme will not be merged.
Regional development entails enhancing the prerequisites for the independent development of regions, based on the regions’ present or potential strengths. Development is intensely based on competence and deeper regional profiling. The intention to make Finnish regions attractive for enterprises and residents alike requires the broad-based development of innovation and living environments.
National development supports a nationwide network of regions with multiple centres, comprising urban regions and the surrounding rural areas. The objective is to reduce economic, social and regional differences in development, i.e. to improve cohesion inside regions and between them. Each region should have at least one strong urban region and prosperous smaller centres alongside vital rural regions. The aim is efficient networking of the enterprises in the regions, both inside the region and on a national and international scale. Regional development recognises the differences between regions and differentiates policy by type of region.
Objectives of COCO
The national COCO works nationwide as a strategic tool for supporting regional development and promoting coordination in order to meet the national development objectives defined under the Government’s decision. The aim is to enhance the competitiveness of all regions while balancing regional development through supporting the interaction and networking of key operators in regional development.
For the purposes of this programme, cohesion refers to creating equal development prerequisites for different areas, and connecting different regions and operators with regional development. Enhancing competitiveness refers on the one hand to the ability of regions to recognise their own strengths, to target development efforts at them efficiently, and to form networks with other regions in the development of selected areas. On the other hand, closer cooperation between regional development operators, and the development of operating methods, promotes competitiveness.
The programme supports strategic development efforts at local level. COCO is a proactive tool for improving the development prerequisites of a region, and for launching strategically significant projects. COCO improves the operating methods of regional development, consolidates inter-regional cooperation, networks regions and expedites the exchange of information and experiences. COCO strives to promote interaction between urban and rural regions, beneficial for both parties concerned. At national level, COCO is involved in the development of cooperation methods between ministries, and in the development of cooperation between national, regional and local operators.
COCO covers the entire country, excluding Åland. All regions forming an operative strategic entity are eligible. There are altogether 52 COCO regions.
National networksThe network themes are:
Basic financing in COCO entails seed financing for the purpose of promoting programme implementation in line with the programme focuses, the management of cooperation and networks, and the development of operating methods. The total budget of the programme amounts to some 20 million euros, of which 50 per cent comprises financing by the MEE, and 50 per cent municipal co-funding.