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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Main executive and legislative bodies

Finland

1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.2Main executive and legislative bodies

Last update: 9 February 2024

The administration in Finland is divided into three levels: central, regional and local government.

National administration

Finland is a parliamentary republic. The Parliament of Finland has the highest legislative power. The people elect 200 representatives to the Parliament every four years. In addition to legislative functions, Parliament decides on the state budget, supervises Government actions and controls administration. The Government must enjoy the confidence of Parliament.

The President of the Republic has a fairly independent status with respect to Parliament. The people elect the President by direct vote for a term of six years. The President introduces government bills to Parliament and ratifies laws. They are also the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces.

The Government is the highest-ranking body in the state administration. It consists of the Cabinet formed by the Prime Minister and 18 other ministers. The Government comprises 12 ministries. Each ministry is responsible for the preparation of matters within its mandate and for the proper functioning of administration. 

The Ministry of Education and Culture works as a part of the Government. Its field of responsibilities covers:

  • early childhood education and care, education, training and research
  • arts, culture, sports and youth work
  • the archival, museum and public library systems
  • the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Orthodox Church and other religious communities
  • student financial aid
  • copyright.

 

There are also other Ministries involved in some special branches of education; the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland is responsible for labour market training and the Ministry of Defence is responsible for National Defence University

Central agencies and institutes

In addition to the ministries, there are central agencies and institutes. The ministries direct these agencies in general, but they do not intervene in their decisions in individual cases, so the central bodies are relatively independent within their own field.

The tasks of these central agencies vary. They take care of administration, manage the statistic and registration tasks and spread information to public. Some of the institutions act as state research institutions.

Some examples of central agencies and institutes:

 

The central agency regarding education is the Finnish National Agency for Education  (EDUFI). It is a national development agency operating under the Ministry of Education and Culture and its tasks are set in the legislation.

Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for the development of

  • early childhood education and care
  • pre-primary education
  • basic education
  • general upper secondary education
  • vocational upper secondary education
  • adult education

The Finnish National Agency for Education assists the Ministry of Education and Culture in the preparation of education policy decisions and implementing national education policies.

The activities of Finnish National Agency for Education include, among other things, preparing the national core curricula and requirements for qualifications as well as promoting internationalisation in education and training. It also publishes monitoring information on the costs of education, educational institutions, student numbers, applicants and graduates. The agency is also involved in the exchange of international information on education through European networks.

Regional administration

Regional State Administrative Agencies   (AVI) There are six Regional State Administrative Agencies in Finland. The agencies work in close collaboration with local authorities. The agencies promote regional equality. Areas of responsibility are:

  • basic public services, legal rights and permits
  • education and culture
  • occupational health and safety
  • environmental permits
  • fire and rescue services and preparedness
  • police

 

The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment   (ELY Centres) is responsible for the regional implementation and development tasks of the central government. Finland has 15 ELY Centres.

ELY Centres have following areas of responsibility:

  • business and industry, labour force, competence and cultural activities
  • transport and infrastructure
  • environment and natural resources

 

However, not all 15 ELY Centres deal with all three areas of responsibility as they can also manage duties on each other’s' behalf.

The ELY Centres work under the administrative branch of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy However, ELY Centres also deal with tasks coming under the administrative branches of the

Local administration

The basic unit of local administration is the municipality, also called as local authority. There are 309 municipalities in Finland in 2021. Every Finnish citizen belongs to a municipality.

Local authorities have strong self-government based on local democracy and decision making; the inhabitants of the municipalities elect representatives to the municipal council.

Municipalities have a broad responsibility for the provision of basic services to citizens. They have a right to levy taxies from their inhabitants for producing services. Basic services are for example

  • early childhood education and care
  • pre-primary and basic education
  • welfare for the aged and the disabled
  • waste management
  • energy production.

Local authorities can provide services in different ways. As municipalities may not manage everything on their own, they can provide services jointly with other local authorities, communities and enterprises.

Municipalities often set up a joint municipal authority to establish co-operation on a more permanent basis. Joint authorities typically provide educational and social and health-care services.