The European Union has a significant impact on regional development. Regional issues have become increasingly important since Sweden joined the EU in 1995.
Responsibility for regional development has for many years rested with the County Administrative Boards. In recent years, most of Sweden's municipalities, county councils and regions have together assumed a greater responsibility for regional matters and have developed various forms of regional co-operation.
The aim is to make better use of the resources available at local level and to ensure that the municipalities, county councils and regions can continue to offer good services to the public. Various trials are now underway in order to make regional development more effective and more democratic.
The municipalities and the county council/region in a particular county are able to form regional co-operation councils. These councils may, among other things, decide on how a proportion of the State grants should be used and on regional investments in infrastructure, for example in roads and the broadband network.
These co-operation councils have a weaker legal status and have considerably less State resources at their disposal than the local authorities. In addition, members of the co-operation councils are not directly elected by the citizens, but are appointed by the county councils or regional assemblies.
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