The Aims of Åland and Finland Regarding a New Act

on the Autonomy of Åland:

An analysis of three parliamentary committee reports (2010–2017)



Susann Simolin

The main question of this article is what intentions Åland and Finland hold regarding the self-government of Åland, and how this is mirrored in the ongoing process for a revision of the Åland Autonomy Act. This matter is studied through a comparison of three central documents in the revision process, issued by three parliamentary committees, one Ålandic, one Finnish, and one joint. The article analyses how the parties describe the background and development of Åland’s autonomy, the original purpose of the autonomy, and

the aims for the fourth generation of autonomy legislation. Some concrete proposals for changes in the Autonomy Act are discussed in order to see if the intentions of the two parties coincide or differ. The article concludes that the committees mainly agree on the foundations of the autonomy. The principle of protection of language and culture seems to be rather unproblematic, whereas it is unclear how far the parties are willing to go regarding the right of Åland to manage its own affairs. For instance, the committees have identified the division of legislative competences and the economic system as two crucial domains in the revision. Åland is interested to extend its mandate in those spheres further than at least the Government of Finland seems to be willing to allow.

About the Author
Susann Simolin is Head of Information at the Ålands Islands Peace Institute. She holds an MA in political science and a BA in journalism. In her work she meets people from all over the world interested to discuss the Åland Example (self-government, demilitarisation and neutralisation, protection of language and culture). Her attempts to understand why the Åland Example is of international interest and more precisely what it is that is of interest, have motivated several research efforts, among them a study on the usage of the Åland Example in international contexts to be completed in 2019.
Table of Contents

1. Introduction

1.1 Methodological reflections

1.2 Some conceptual observations

2. A background to the autonomy of Åland

2.1 The conflict

2.2 The solution

2.3 Implementation and development of the autonomy

3. The committee reports on the third revision of the Autonomy Act

3.1 The origins of the autonomy and the aims of a revision

3.1.1 Provincial committee

3.1.2 State committee

3.1.3 Joint committee

3.2 Legislative competences of Åland

3.2.1 The provincial committee

3.2.2 The state committee

3.2.3 The joint committee

3.3 The economic system of Åland

3.3.1 The provincial committee

3.3.2 The state committee

3.3.3 The joint committee

3.4 Legislative control of autonomy law and state law

3.4.1 The provincial committee

3.4.2 The state committee

3.4.3 The joint committee

3.4.4 Summary of findings in the three reports

4. Discussion

4.1 The issue of language and culture

4.2 Development of the autonomy

4.3 Relationship between Åland and Finland

5. Concluding remarks

6. References

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