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Finland/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

In the Finnish political system, the plenary sessions of the government (Council of State) and its standing committees and working groups have a strong role in controlling and guiding individual ministries and in co-ordinating their work. Inter-sectoral co-ordination has been perceived as an important issue, but few institutional mechanisms to maintain it have been introduced.

Finnish EU-membership has also brought forth a need for inter-ministerial co-ordination. There is a special Committee of Ministers for the co-ordination of EU-affairs and, on the top civil servant level, an Inter-Ministerial Committee of EU-Affairs, with a number of sector specific preparative sub-committees, among them a sub-committee for culture and audio-visual affairs (often called simply the sub-committee 31).

In any case, the co-ordination of cultural policy planning and decision-making rests with the Ministry of Education and Culture, but important roles are also played by: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the co-ordination of "cultural diplomacy"), the Ministry of Transport and Communications (concerning co-ordination of media, communications and information technologies), the Ministry of Justice (preparing freedom of expression legislation, court processes in immaterial rights issues) and the Ministry of the Interior (immigrant issues). From the cultural policy point of view, the Ministry of Employment and Economy has had a central role in respect to R&D, SMEs and competition issues in the media and culture industries. As the Ministry of Labour was merged (from 1 January 2008) with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and renamed the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, this new "super-ministry" has had a strong say not only in R&D, SMEs and competition issues but such culturally salient policy domains as public works, construction projects, employment policies (including relations with the ILO), creative industries and gender issues. In the same overall administrative reform, the regional development issues were transferred from the Ministry of the Interior to this "super-ministry", and the financial monitoring and planning power of the other "super-ministry", the Ministry of Finance, was expanded by including in its jurisdiction, economic, administrative and information technology issues concerning municipal and regional governance.

So far these administrative reforms have not altered the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Culture. Directly, they caused a conflict only in one cultural policy domain. The administration of copyright policies has traditionally belonged in the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Culture and it was proposed that they should also be transferred to the new "super-ministry", which already was responsible for industrial rights. As the copyright stakeholders, especially artists' organisations, protested against this transfer, the copyright issues remained within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Culture (see  chapter 4.1 and  chapter 5.1.7).

There are no inter-governmental bodies in cultural policy-decision making and administration. As to public cultural services, the Association of the Finnish Local and Regional Authorities is an important intermediary between the central government, the regions and the municipalities. To a certain extent the regional arts councils also function as intermediaries between the central government and regions. The financing from the EU Structural Funds has created a whole host of new planning and supervisory organisations, which also co-ordinate regional cultural policies to a certain extent.

The three previous governments have wished to enhance inter-sectorality in state policy-making and administration. The Centre-Socialist (2003-2007) and Centre-Conservative-Green (2007-2011) governments introduced in their action plans the idea of programme-based management and outlined several inter-sectoral policy programmes for employment, entrepreneurship, the information society, civil society, health promotion and the wellbeing of children, youth and families, but did not propose any specific instruments for coordinating their implementation. Culture was not explicitly included in any of these programmes. The Conservative-Socialist-Green government (2011-2015) outlined three inter-governmental strategic priority areas of which the priority area of economic growth, employment and competitiveness, managed by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, was the most central for cultural policy. The priority areas were made up of several action points with responsible ministers, with the Ministry of Education and Culture

The current Centre-Conservative-Populist (2015-2019, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä) government has a new approach of so called key projects

The government strategic programme states in its vision of 2025:

“Finland is open and international, rich in languages and cultures. Finland’s competitiveness in built on high expertise, sustainable development and open-minded innovations based on experimentation and digitalisation. We encourage renewal, creativity and interest in new ideas. Failure is acceptable and we learn from our mistakes.”

The Government Programme is an action plan devised by the political parties represented in the Government. Programme’s implementation plan focuses on the schedule, measures and financing of the key projects and the most important structural reforms.

The Programme has five strategic objectives, which include a total of 26 key projects. Six of the key projects are within the administrative branch of the Ministry of Education and Culture, under knowledge and education.

Key projects:

  • New learning environments and digital materials to comprehensive schools
  • Reform of vocational upper secondary education
  • Acceleration of transition to working life
  • Access to art and culture will be facilitated
  • Cooperation between higher education institutions and business life will be strengthened to bring innovations to the market
  • Youth guarantee towards community guarantee

As regards cultural policy, the main government priority deals with facilitating access to art and culture. The programme states that:

  • Children and young people will be supported in becoming more active.
  • Basic education in the arts and cultural activities will be increased.
  • Access to basic art education and children’s culture, which is currently not available to all in every part of the country, will be improved.
  • Greater recognition will be given to the wellbeing aspects of culture.
  • Art exhibitions in public spaces and institutions will be promoted to bring culture closer to every Finnish citizen.
  • The principle of investing up to 1% of the construction costs of public buildings in the acquisition of artwork will be expanded in cooperation with the social welfare and health care sector in order to support the welfare impacts of the art

All in all 10 million EUR are allocated for these measures for 2016-2018. The sum for 2016 is 2,6 million EUR.

Government Programme:

For more information on the main projects, see chapter 4.1 (Current issues in cultural policy development and debate).

In 2003-2004, a planning process was carried out to draft a policy strategy for the promotion of export of Finnish cultural goods and services. This planning work was co-ordinated by the Ministry of Education and Culture, but the Ministry of Trade and Industry (since 2008 the Ministry of Employment and the Economy) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs participated on an equal footing and participants and experts came from different administrative sectors and walks of life. The final report "Staying power of Finnish cultural exports!" was published in 2004, and the Ministry of Education and Culture initiated its implementation by establishing in 2005 a special Division of Cultural Exports (since then it has been ). In 2010 this division was transferred into the Arts Division as a special focus area. It has been estimated that some EUR 228 million was invested in the Cultural Export Promotion Programme during the period of 2007-2011. In the 2013 budget, EUR 9 000 000 was allocated for the implementation of the Ministry's cultural exports and international co-operation activities. 

The minority, ethnic, refugee and immigration affairs are concentrated in two ministries, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (see this chapter, third paragraph). There is a sectoral division in these issues also within the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Department of Cultural, Sports and Youth Policy defines its objectives e.g. in the Immigration Policy Outlines, in rather general terms, as "… the cultural needs of minorities will be enhanced by increasing the grants to correspond to the escalation of immigration; and these needs will be taken better into account in the decisions and activities of the main cultural policy support systems and cultural and art institutions". In the preamble of the 2007 State Budget, the Department promised to enhance equal access and conditions for equal participation especially in respect to ethnic groups and disabled people. In addition to the "traditional" concern of bilingualism and the status of the Sami (see chapter 4.2.5), the policy actions so far have been limited to the distribution of grants (EUR 650 000 in 2011) to immigrant and minority organisations and artists and to projects and programmes carrying out anti-discrimination campaigns. Since 2009, the Arts Council of Finland (presently the Arts Promotion Centre Finland) has awarded grants to arts projects promoting multiculturalism (immigrant artists) with a budget of EUR 97 000 in 2014.

The other core department of the Ministry, the Department of Education and Science, has had closer links to other ministries, especially to the Ministry of Labour, in promoting equal opportunities for minorities, ethnic groups and immigrants. As the Ministry of Labour has been merged with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to form the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, it is difficult to say what will happen to these links in the near future. As to the education policies of the immigrants and minorities, the main responsibility for the research and development activities, experiments and planning of courses and educational material lies with the Ministry of Education's main educational expert body, the National Board of Education. Yet, the focus of educational policy efforts has not been longer term promotion of multiculturalism but the opening up opportunities for immigrants and refugees to become integrated into the Finnish educational system and subsequently also into Finnish labour markets. The native tongue of immigrants is seen as important in the initial integration stage and municipalities can provide teaching in native languages if they so wish and have resources for this purpose.

Yet, educational policies provide the closest link of the Ministry of Education and Culture to the overall national system of policy-making and administration in the minority, ethnicity and immigration issues. In this system, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shapes these issues from the point of view of national security and the Ministry of Interior, through its border guards, police authorities, Department of Immigration and the Directorate of Immigration, has the first say in entry / asylum issues, residence permits and naturalisation. After the overall re-organisation of the Finnish ministries, most other refugee and anti-discrimination issues are located within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior.

Two important legal instruments, the Non-discrimination Ombudsman and the National Discrimination Tribunal are also located in the Ministry of the Interior. These organisations are, however, independent of the Ministry in their decision-making processes. The former is the main authority in issues concerning the legal protection and the promotion of the status of ethnic minorities and foreigners and in maintaining equality and non-discrimination practices in ethnic relations. The activities of the latter are defined in the Equality Act i.e. preventing and combating ethnic discrimination in working life and service provisions. The Board of Ethnic Relations, which plans and co-ordinates activity in all issues concerning refugees, migrants and ethnic relations, is also located in the Ministry of the Interior. This Board and the National Discrimination Tribunal have a representation of immigrant groups and traditional national minorities among their members. No doubt these three organisations also co-ordinate the activities of different ministries, but their main purpose is to operate as bodies where experts and different stakeholders seek solutions for practical social, economic and human rights problems. Consequently, municipal administration and voluntary associations have shouldered the responsibilities for the immigrants and minorities in the fields of arts and culture – and also in respect to multiculturalism and intercultural dialogue. For their role, see chapter 4.2.4 and chapter 4.2.7 for cases illustrating Finnish approaches to intercultural dialogue.

Chapter published: 24-04-2017

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