On a proposal by Monika Wulf-Mathies, Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy, and in accordance with Commissioners Bonino, Flynn and Fischler, the Commission has approved the Objective 6 Structural Fund programme in Sweden. The Single Programming Document (SPD) will now be sent to the Structural Fund Committees for opinion, after which the SPD will be finally adopted. In commenting on the decision, Commissioner Wulf-Mathies welcomed the special attention given in the programme to preserving the unique characteristics of the Objective 6 region as a living and working environment. She also welcomed its innovative approach to the use of new technologies as a way of overcoming the area's peripheral drawbacks and the special emphasis laid on the involvement of women and young people. The Objective 6 SPD should make a significant contribution to the region's future structural development by opening up new possibilities for employment and building on the strengths of local communities. The Objective 6 area covers most of the northern half of Sweden and is characterized by small population centres separated by vast distances. Almost 450,000 people live there, 5% of the Swedish population, in an area which covers 55% of the national territory. The current challenge facing the region is to maintain the population level and to provide new jobs given the fall in employment in traditional sectors (forestry, mining) and expected cutbacks in the public sector. The aim of the SPD is to promote job-creation in the private sector, particularly in SMEs, by encouraging businesses to take advantage of the region's inherent competitive strengths and to exploit the possibilities offered by new technologies to overcome its drawbacks. At the same time, local communities will be supported in their efforts to identify and develop new ways of creating employment and to enhance the social and economic base in their area. The programme will cover the five-year period 1995-1999. Total public expenditure is forecast at ECU 492 million, of which ECU 252 million will come from the European Union. This public expenditure is expected to trigger a contribution of ECU 129 million from the private sector bringing the estimated total investment to ECU 621 million. Five priorities have been highlighted to implement the strategic aim of the programme: - Development of jobs, trade and industry; - Promoting know-how in the areas of information technology, research and education; - Agriculture, fisheries and natural resources; - Rural and community development; - Sami development (this will take the form of a global grant to be managed by the Sami Parliament in favour of actions involving Sami culture and the traditional industry of reindeer husbandry). Underlying these priorities are horizontal themes including the development of information technology, promotion of equality between men and women, preservation of the environment and increasing the skills and competencies of people. Public funding will be distributed as follows: - 34% to direct business development; - 18% to business support measures in the fields of information technology, research and education; - 26% to agriculture, forestry, fisheries and natural resources; - 17% to rural and community development; - 3% directly to the Sami - 2% for technical assistance. The programme will be implemented in a partnership involving the Commission, central government, regional and local authorities comprising all local interests, including the social partners, through a system of management committees reporting to an overall SPD Monitoring Committee.