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Governance of the Helsinki-Tallinn cross-border area

Cross-border co-operation is currently institutionalised through a co-ordination body, Helsinki-Tallinn Euregio NPA, which is a non-profit association of several public authorities. The Euregio Secretariat provides some technical assistance behind the scenes, but lacks the recognition of many leading public and private actors. The governance of cross-border activity only involves public actors, with weak participation of innovation actors. Euregio has been quite active in generating and collecting data on cross-border flows of freight, goods and people as part of the latest project H-TTransplan; data which are useful to monitor the level of integration of the area. However, data on knowledge potential and flows are less available, limiting awareness and the development of cross-border innovation policies and programmes.

National and regional innovation policies do not explicitly incorporate the goal of fostering cross-border co-operation in innovation, and national policy instruments do not allow cross-border funding. Aligning programmes across borders (through joint calls with separate funding flows) is also not practiced. Public funding for cross-border co-operation in innovation is mainly provided by the European Territorial Co-operation programme (Interreg) through the Southern Finland-Estonia sub-programme. This funding source, like in other cross-border areas, suffers from a number of deficiencies for financing cross-border activities with a science or innovation focus.

Table 6.6. Snapshot of governance characteristics: Helsinki-Tallinn

(Helsinki-Tallinn in bold)




National political capitals

Yes, each side Yes, at least one None

The cross-border area includes the wider capital area (city-region) on each side. This creates close relationships with national governments and institutions.

Longevity of public co-operation (social proximity)

>20 years 10-20 years

<10 years

Cross-border activities started with the establishment of Euregio, as an informal network in 1999 and a formal body in 2003. Note that management of the Interreg programme is performed by another entity, although Euregio has managed many Interreg projects.

Innovation policy competencies (institutional proximity)

Balanced, strong Balanced, weak


On both sides, the main competences for innovation policy are located at the national level. However, both Finnish and Estonian counties and cities are active in business development promotion.

Political commitment (institutional proximity)

Balanced, strong

Balanced, weak


There is political alignment at the national level on the wish to deepen co-operation linkages between the two countries, as well as twin-city action. The overall commitment may be somewhat stronger from the Estonian side.

Institutionalisation and legitimacy (institutional and social proximity)

Present, strong Present, weak Not present

Helsinki-Tallinn Euregio is a dedicated institution responsible for the promotion of cross-border relationships. Its visibility and its mandate are limited and its future sustainability uncertain.

Actors in governance

Public sector

University/research actors Firms

Mix of actors (triple helix)

The governance of the Euregio involves the public sector, and there are no other formal consultation bodies or working groups for wider stakeholder participation (i.e. firms and universities).

Funding sources

Mainly public Mixed public/private Mainly private

Most of the joint activities in the innovation area are funded through the European Territorial Co-operation programme (Interreg). Private co-financing of these activities remains low.

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