Sanna Alaranta and Emilia Pernaa, West Finland European Office:
“Ostrobothnia is the most industrialised area in Finland”
Ever since Finland joined the EU in 1995, the region of Ostrobothnia has had its own office for lobbying in Brussels, jointly with three other regions from Finland. The office is called West Finland European Office and it is where Sanna Alaranta and Emilia Pernaa work.
“We operate as a link between the four member regions and the EU, promoting our interests not only to the European institutions but to various European networks and other EU regions. This way we can influence the issues that affect our region,” says Sanna Alaranta, Director.
She says that it is easy to lobby for a region that has such a high skill level and a strong profile.
“When a region has a strong profile and a strong brand, it is easy to find international partnerships that bring new contacts, ideas and projects that are crucial for the region’s economy,” says Alaranta.
Emilia Pernaa, EU Policy Advisor, shares the opinion that it’s easy to differentiate Ostrobothnia.
“For example when energy know-how is being discussed in Europe, Ostrobothnia is often referred to among the regional actors. It is starting to be quite well-known that we have top competence in the field of energy.”
Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Member of the European Parliament:
“Our know-how can be passed on to the rest of Europe”
“At the moment the energy union is a current topic in the EU. I can be proud of my native region Ostrobothnia here in Brussels, as we have such a high level of energy expertise. I hope that it can be passed on to the rest of Europe,” says Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, who is a member of the European Parliament and a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Industry, Research and Energy.
She strongly believes in the development of, for instance, renewable energy sources and smart electricity solutions – these being areas in which the companies in Ostrobothnia have a lot to offer. Kumpula-Natri is also a big advocate of digital development.
“Our region has a good basis for knowledge, education and skills in this area as we have strong universities and universities of applied sciences for future development.”
Kumpula-Natri underlines that positive development requires good connections.
“In today’s society it is important to be able to change locations quickly. For me it is wonderful to be able to wake up with the sun at my summer place near Vaasa at five in the morning and be in a meeting in Brussels already at ten o’clock. The good transport connections to Europe demonstrate the significance of our region.”
Heidi Jern, member of the Cabinet of Commissioners:
“The energy cluster gives our region a strong profile”
Heidi Jern is one out of the seven members in the Cabinet of EU Commissioner Jyrki Katainen. Jern works as an advisor and her areas of expertise include environment, circular economy, climate and energy.
“I’m especially proud to work with energy issues as my native region has a very impressive energy cluster. Consideration for energy is strong among the people in Ostrobothnia; the basics of saving energy and taking environment into consideration are taught early on at school. It gives a strong profile to the region.”
Jern is responsible for the commission’s negotiations, she writes speeches and meets stakeholders. One of the advantages of having roots in Ostrobothnia when working in Brussels is that one understands multilingualism, as Ostrobothnia is both bilingual and international. In Jern’s view Ostrobothnia is a region with a lot of drive and interest for the surrounding world.
“I admire how the people of Ostrobothnia can turn problems into opportunities and how they always try to find a better solution. This is the reason why our businesses are so successful,” says Jern.