According to the founding document, Euregio Karelia is the cooperation area formed by three Finnish regions: Kainuu, North Karelia and Northern Ostrobothnia and the Republic of Karelia of the Russian Federation. Legally it is an international community complying with the Russian legislation within the area of the Republic of Karelia and the Finnish legislation on the Finnish side of the region. The basis of this cooperation is the common aim of the partner areas to improve living conditions of inhabitants in the area via cross-border cooperation.
Euregio Karelia isn't an individual model of cooperation but an on-going process, in which cooperation is carried out on both sides of the border on a concrete level, in order to achieve the joint goals.
The bases of Euregio Karelia are the following, common goals:
- Promoting cross-border activities of inhabitants and organisations by easing the border crossing formalities and by promoting the opening of new border crossing points
- Promoting the wellbeing of inhabitants by increasing employment and promoting equality
- Promoting the development of industries by developing the infrastructure of border regions, such as the functionality of border crossing points, road connections and data connections, utilities and environmental conditions
- Promoting the safety of inhabitants by preventing international crime
- Increasing the cooperation between inhabitants in the field of culture
- Coordinating cooperation projects on the regional level within the authority of Euregio Karelia
- Promoting the EU funding and other funding for joint projects within the region
- Clarifying the concept of Northern Dimension from the regions' point of view by developing regional cooperation models on the external borders of the EU
The strategic document outlining cooperation up until the year 2020 called "Main Directions of Euregio Karelia 2020" was adopted by the board of Euregio Karelia in 2014. Using present state analysis, it states the methods and main areas of cooperation until the year 2020, and highlights joint cooperation projects. The background memo of the document (Operational Environment of Euregio Karelia 2000-2013) describes the present circumstances of cross-border cooperation and their changes during the previous 10-year period.
The most visible channel to promote Euregio Karelia cooperation has been via the EU cross-border cooperation programmes. Since the founding of Euregio Karelia cooperation the community has given strategic guidance to the cross-border cooperation programmes functioning in the region, thereby enforcing the long term planning in the region.
During years 2000-2012, altogether 501 projects with the total amount of 132 million euros were carried out in the region of Euregio Karelia via the EU cross-border programmes. In the Republic of Karelia, also several large TACIS projects (EU technical assistance projects) were carried out. Since 1996, altogether 56 TACIS projects with the total amount of 37 million euros were carried out. The projects have, among other things, improved the infrastructure on border crossing points, developed civil engineering and information society, and enhanced cooperation in the fields of tourism, culture, social and welfare sector as well as in the field of environment. For example enterprises, educational and research institutions, NGO's, municipalities, authorities and youth groups have participated the cooperation.