Tasks of the Parliament

Tasks of the Parliament


The most important tasks of the Parliament include lawmaking for the region.

What can the Parliament legislate on?

Through the Autonomy Act, the legislative power has been transferred from the Finnish Parliament to the Parliament in the following areas, among other things:

  • education, culture and the preservation of ancient monuments
  • health and medical care
  • social issues
  • promotion of industry
  • environmental protection
  • municipalities
  • police
  • postal communications
  • radio and TV
  • traffic within Åland

It can be said that in these areas Åland almost functions much like an independent state, with its own legislation and administrative apparatus.

In the course of a case, you can read more about how legislation is done and about the jurisdiction control of the regional laws.

Legislative areas belonging to the Finnish Parliament

In areas where the Parliament cannot legislate, the laws adopted by the Finnish Parliament apply in the same way in Åland as in the rest of the country.

Examples of such areas are:

  • Foreign Service
  • most civil and criminal law
  • courts
  • customs and coinage
  • state taxation

In order to protect the interests of the Ålandic people in these areas, Åland has a representative in the Finnish Parliament. The Ålandic Member of the Finnish Parliament is elected in the same way as other members of the Parliament in Finland. The Member of the Parliament does not represent the autonomous region, they represent the Ålandic people.

Adopting the budget for Åland

The second main task of the Parliament, alongside its legislative tasks, is to decide on the regional budget.

By 1 November, the Regional Government will submit a proposal for the next year's budget to the Parliament, which will first have a long discussion on the proposal before it is submitted to the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee for preparation. The committee then submits a report to the Parliament, which usually gavels the budget the week before Christmas.

Revenue from the budget

Own income

The revenue from the regional budget consists of 20 per cent of income from the region's own activities in various areas. Important revenue generating activities include organisations such as PAF and Posten. Income also includes patient fees within ÅHS, and fees for travel on the archipelago’s ferries, television permits, inspections at the motor vehicle agency, and museum revenues, for example. Other income consists of a transfer from the pension fund to cover part of the pension expenses and EU support.

Reimbursement from the state

Most of the revenue in the regional budget consists of a repayment of the money collected by the state in Åland. As in the rest of the country, the state collects taxes, duties, and fees on Åland, and the region is compensated in return for expenses taken over from the state due to autonomy. The compensation takes place by making an appropriation in the state budget available to the Parliament. The appropriation (settlement amount) represents a lump sum of 0,45 per cent of the revenue in the state accounts, with the exception of government loans.

If the Ålandic people are such good taxpayers that the income tax paid on Åland exceeds 0.5 per cent of the corresponding tax in Finland, the excess amounts will be credited to the region. This tax credit is commonly referred to as “diligence” (flitpeng).

The Parliament can also apply for additional appropriations for exceptionally large one-off expenditures that cannot reasonably be financed from the region's regular budget. However, such additional appropriations are relatively rare. Examples of projects that have been implemented with the help of these extra grants include the direct current connection between Åland and Finland.

The Åland Delegation plays an important role in the reimbursement of state funds to Åland.


Based on the proposal of the regional government, the Parliament decides how the expenditure in the budget is to be distributed year to year. The major areas of expenditure include social and health care, as well as education and traffic.

The regional budget for the current year is available here.


In which areas can the Parliament enact laws?

The Autonomy Act lists the areas where the Parliament of Åland has the right to legislate. The most important sectors are:

  • education, culture and the preservation of ancient monuments
  • health and medical care, environment
  • promotion of industry
  • internal traffic
  • municipal administration
  • police
  • postal communications
  • radio and TV

Åland functions almost as an independent state with its own legislation and administration in these areas.

Which areas belong to the national authorities?

In areas where the Parliament does not have legislative powers, the laws of Finland apply in the same way as in the rest of the country.

Examples of such areas are:

  • Foreign Service
  • most civil and criminal law
  • courts
  • customs services
  • state taxation

In order for Åland's interests to be safeguarded in areas where the region does not have legislative competence, Åland has a representative in the Finnish Parliament. The Ålandic Member of the Finnish Parliament is elected in the same way as other members of the Parliament in Finland.

Types of cases

Legislative proposals and motions

Budget proposals and motions

Suggestions and questions

Statements and reports

Other suggestions and questions


Progress of a Case

Who can bring a case to the Parliament

The work in the legislative process is very formalised. It is not possible for just anyone to bring a case to the Parliament. According to the rules, a case can be brought only by

  • the President of the Republic
  • the regional government
  • the members of the Parliament themselves
  • the citizens through a citizens' initiative

Different types of cases

Proposal by the regional government

The regional government is the most important "client" of the Parliament. The regional government may raise suggestions that the Parliament will pass a regional law. There are no time limits for when bills can be raised.

The regional government may also bring budget proposals that apply:

  • proposals for appropriations in the regional budget
  • questions about regional guarantees
  • initiatives to the Finnish Parliament
  • applications for additional appropriations

The regional government submits approximately 50 proposals per year to the Parliament.

The regional government has the officials in the administration to help it prepare the cases.

Presidential petitions

The President of the Republic may submit petitions (proposals) to the Parliament.

It is the president who submits amendments to the Autonomy Act to the Parliament for consent.

According to the Autonomy Act, the Parliament must give its consent to laws that bring international treaties into force if the international treaties concern the jurisdiction of the region. Otherwise, the international agreements or treaties will not apply in Åland.

The most common international treaties to which the Parliament gives its consent, concern double taxation and benefits in the field of social and health care, but the Parliament's consent was also required with regard to accession to the EU.

Proposals of the Speakers’ Conference

The Parliament's own body, the Speakers Conference, can raise proposals in the Parliament. The proposal of the Speakers’ Conference concerns internal legislative issues.


The Parliament members' own proposals are called motions. Motions must be in writing and they can be signed by one or more members.

Motions are usually raised by members who are in opposition because the members who belong to the governing parties can influence the government directly.

There are three types of motions:

  • legislative motions
  • budget motions
  • provisional motions

The motions that contain a ready-formulated draft bill are called legislative motions. Legislative motions can be raised at any time during the time when the Parliament is assembled.

Budget motions contain proposals for appropriations in the regional budget. Budget motions may be raised no later than 12.00 on the eleventh day after the budget proposal has been included for information on the Parliament's agenda.  A budget motion due to a proposal for a supplementary budget or a supplementary budget proposal must be submitted no later than 12.00 on the fourth day after the proposal has been placed on the agenda for information.

Provisional motions contain proposals that the Parliament should request that , for example, the regional government must take a certain measure. In addition to the regional government, such a request may be addressed to the Finnish Parliament, the Speakers’ Conference, or the Autonomy Committee.


The regional government may also issue a notification to the Parliament on such matters as the regional government considers that the Parliament should be informed of and comment on. The notices do not contain a direct proposal for action by the Parliament. Often the communication are about major reforms that are still at the planning stage.


The Parliament handles a number of reports as well. According to the law,

the regional government,

Åland delegation to the Nordic Council and

the regional auditor

will annually report to the Parliament about their activities. In addition, the regional auditor shall provide a report of the annual audit and the efficiency audit.

Citizens' initiative

A thousand citizens can together submit a citizens' initiative to the Parliament. The initiative must be submitted in writing to the Parliament Office and it must contain a proposal in the form of a legal text or a proposal on what legislative measures should be taken. Issues of various kinds may not be included in one and the same initiative. The initiative must include a short justification.

The initiative must state who are the representative and deputy representative of the initiative. The representative shall also be the first signatory of the initiative. At the same time as the signing, the representative must notify the Parliament Office in writing that the collection of names for the citizens' initiative has begun. The collection of names may last a maximum of four months.

In the initiative, the initiators must ensure that, according to the electoral register authority's voting rights register, they were entitled to vote in the most recent parliamentary election. Under the persons' own signatures, their name, title, profession or occupation, and address must be clearly noted. The signatures must be clearly numbered.

When collecting signatures, the rules on freedom of choice in respect of parliamentary elections shall apply.

The Parliament is obliged to consider a citizens' initiative without delay if it has been done as provided for in the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament. Initiatives that contain proposals in the form of a legal text shall be dealt with in the legislative order in the same manner as a legislative motion proposing a regional law. Initiatives that contain proposals for legislative measures to be taken shall be dealt with in a single treatment in the same way as a provisional motion.

The Parliament's decision, in connection with a citizens' initiative, must be communicated in writing to the representative.

Thinking of starting a citizens' initiative?

If you are planning an initiative, please contact the Parliament Office in good time!

Here are forms that can be used in a citizens' initiative so that all information is included.

Download the citizens' initiative notification form

Download the petition form for citizens' initiatives

Contact information for the Parliament Office

How the cases are handled in the Parliament

Most of the matters in the Parliament are dealt with both in the Chamber and in a committee.

All legislative matters are dealt with only in the Chamber, where members of the Parliament have the opportunity to discuss. This debate is called a referendum debate. Thereafter, virtually all matters, except certain communications, are referred to or transmitted in accordance with the proposals of the Speakers’ Conference to a committee for consideration. The regional government's bills and budgets, the presidential petitions, the members' motions, and citizens' initiatives must always be considered by a committee before they can be considered in the Chamber.

During committee deliberations, the committees have the opportunity to consult experts. The committee's deliberation takes place behind closed doors, so the deliberation is not public.

When the deliberation in a committee is complete, the committee formulates its decision in a report which is then considered in the Chamber. The committees' reports are to be regarded as proposals to the Parliament, since all final decisions are made in the Chamber.

If the matter concerns a bill or an international treaty, the decision shall be taken during two different deliberations in the chamber.

A general discussion is allowed at the first deliberation. When the discussion is over, a decision is made about the proposal. For example, if it is a question of a regional law, the Parliament makes a decision on what it will be like.

Decisions in matters concerning international treaties and in legal matters are taken at a second deliberation, as the Parliament can only take a position on approving the proposal as it was formulated in the first deliberation or rejecting it completely.

If the matter concerns other than legal matters or international treaties, the decision is taken directly on the basis of a report by a special committee. This is called a single deliberation.

Decision in the Parliament

As a decision of the Parliament, the majority's opinion usually applies. In the event of an equal vote, the Speaker’s vote will be the deciding vote, except in the case of a lottery.

However, a qualified majority (two thirds of the votes cast) is required for the Autonomy Act, the Land Acquisition Act, the Legislative Order, the Regional Act on the right to vote and stand for election in municipal elections, and the Regional Act on the Regional Government of Åland.

The legislative matters that have not been finalised when the Parliament is dissolved in connection with elections, expire.


Legislation on which the legislative work is based

Legislative order and the importance of the Rules of Procedure

It is important that there are clear and unambiguous rules for parliamentary work so that politicians can engage in the content of politics instead of discussing formalities.

The most important regulations for parliamentary work are the legislative order and the Rules of Procedure.

Legislative order

The legislative order contains the most important rules for how the Parliament is to work and about the Parliament’s organisation and activities. In order for there to be stability in the work, the threshold for changing the legislative order is high, so a qualified majority in the Parliament is required for all changes.

Preparatory work can be found in cases TMK 1/2014-2015 and LM 2/2010-2011.

Rules of procedure

The Rules of Procedure are the regulations that govern the daily activities of the Parliament, as the more detailed rules for legislative work are contained in the Rules of Procedure.

The Rules of Procedure are not a law, as such, but a decision that is taken as if it were a matter of a law. In other words, the Rules of Procedure undergo two deliberations in the Parliament and they are published in the Statutes of Åland (Ålands författningssamling). However, as it is formally a decision, it does not undergo any legislative control.

The Rules of Procedure include provisions on the legislative year, dissolutions and new elections, the Speakers and the Speakers’ Conference, the committees and other bodies, legislative matters, EU matters, the preparation of dossiers, the deliberation of matters and cases in Parliament, the legislative documents, the administration of the Parliament, elections in the Parliament as well as special provisions and provisions on the entry into force.

Preparatory work can be found in cases TMK 2/2014-2015 and TMK 2/2017-2018

Legislative control

The laws adopted by the Parliament are sent to the President of the Republic, who can veto if the Parliament has exceeded its legislative powers or if the law concerns Finland's external or internal security.

General information about demilitarisation and neutralisation

Åland is demilitarised, which means that the military is not allowed to stay on Åland and that the region is not allowed to be fortified. Åland is also neutralised, and must therefore be kept out of war events. 

When Åland was incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1809, construction began on a large fortress in Bomarsund, on the eastern side of mainland Åland. During the Crimean War, the fortress was attacked and captured by troops from France and England. At the subsequent peace in Paris in 1856, Åland was demilitarised by a unilateral commitment on the part of Russia.

When the League of Nations decided on Åland's state affiliation in 1921, it was also decided that an international convention should be established. The Convention confirmed the demilitarisation of 1856, and at the same time neutralised Åland.

The 1921 Convention was signed by ten states. Russia is not a party to the Convention, but the Moscow Treaty on the Åland Islands in 1940 and the Peace Treaty in Paris in 1947 contain provisions on the demilitarisation of Åland; however, neutralisation is not mentioned. The conventions can be found in the Åland Cultural Foundation's publication on international agreements and documents concerning Åland.

Anyone who has a right of residence and who has moved to Åland before the age of 12 is exempt from conscription. However, demilitarisation is not the reason for the exemption from military service; the exemption is primarily a language protection.


Committees and Bodies

The Autonomy Committee

The Autonomy Committee is an advisory body for the Parliament and the regional government on issues important to self-government and in matters concerning Åland’s external relations. The Committee also acts as a consultative body in matters concerning overall EU affairs.

The new Rules of Procedure have given the Autonomy Committee a clearer role as a coordinating body in international affairs. If members representing the Parliament participate in international activities, the representatives are appointed by the Autonomy Committee, which also decides on the organisation of contacts between such representatives and the Parliament and its bodies. This applies to, for example, the Parliament's participation in Baltic Sea parliamentary cooperation

The regional government submits an annual report which is handled by the Committee and which is then submitted to the Parliament. The report describes issues and question that the regional government considers to be important for self-government policy.

The Autonomy Committee consists of a chairperson and a minimum of four and a maximum of seven members elected by the Parliament.


The Parliament has three permanent special committees:

The Legal and Cultural Committee

The Finance and Economic Affairs Committee

The Social and Environmental Committee

Most of the matters in the Parliament are prepared in one of the special committees, all of which handle one or more areas of affairs. The special committees consist of seven members.

International agreements proposed to take effect in Åland are prepared in the committees to whose area of responsibility the matter belongs.

The Legal and Cultural Committee

The Committee prepares the bills relating:

to the autonomy of Åland

to regional and municipal administration

to order and security

to electoral and civil service legislation

to education, culture, and sport

to media

The Finance and Economic Affairs Committee

The Finance and Economic Affairs Committee prepares:

the regional government’s budget proposal

budget motions

audit reports submitted to the Parliament

requests for additional appropriations

the regional share system and matters relating to the service collective agreement

The committee also prepares legislative matters relating to:

budgetary and audit matters

industries and support for business

taxes and fees

construction, expropriation, and spatial planning


​The committee also approves, on behalf of the Parliament, the regional government's service collective agreement.

The Social and Environmental Committee

The Social and Environmental Committee prepares legislative proposals on the following, among other things:

social issues and employment

health and medical care

rent and lease issues

nature and environmental issues

hunting and outdoor activities

The Review Committee

Finally, the Review Committee’s role is to ensure that the Parliament’s proceedings are in line with its decisions. The Review Committee has three members as well as deputy members. The Review Committee may delegate tasks in whole or in part to the Parliament Office. The Parliament may also decide to abolish the Review Committee. In that case, the adjustment is handled by the Parliament Office.

You can find out more information about how legislative process works in a situation like this.


The Presidium of the Parliament consists of the Speaker and two Deputy Speakers. The Speakers are elected for one working year at a time.

The Speaker is in charge of the work in the Chamber but is not allowed to take part in the debate. In the absence of the Speaker, the business in the Chamber is chaired by one of the Deputy Speakers. The Deputy Speakers are not prevented from taking part in the discussion other than during the time they themselves lead the floor in the Chamber.

The Speakers' Conference

The Speakers' Conference consists of the Presidium, the chairpersons of the standing committees, and one member from each of the legislative groups who would otherwise not be represented in the Speakers’ Conference.

The Conference handles questions about the working methods and procedural matters of the Parliament. The Speakers’ Conference also decides on the schedule for the Parliament’s work.

The Parliament Office Commission

The Parliament Office Commission consists of the Presidium and two members appointed by the Parliament.

The Parliament Office Commission deals with the financial management of the Parliament and matters relating to the Parliament Office.


Monitoring the regional government

In order for the Parliament to have the opportunity to exercise control over the regional government that operates on the basis of its trust, there are a number of political control instruments. As a rule, it is the opposition that uses the control instruments of the Parliament.

Motion of censure

The motion of censure is the most serious instrument of control available to the Parliament.

The Parliament's distrust can only be directed at the Lantråd, who must always ensure that there is sufficient confidence in the entire regional government. If the Parliament decides on censure, the entire regional government will be dissolved and a new one will be appointed. If the Parliament has declared by an absolute majority (at least 16 votes) that the regional government or one of its members lack the confidence of the Parliament, a new regional government shall be appointed.


A question addressed to the regional government can be asked in writing by at least five members of the Parliament together. Within ten days after a question has been presented to the Parliament, the regional government shall either submit a written answer or announce that no answer will be given. When the answer or message has been given, there will be a debate in the Parliament which can then decide on a so-called petition to the Parliament in the matter.

Written question

Each member of the Parliament has the right to ask a brief written question addressed to the regional government. The Lantråd or a minister in the regional government must give a short written or oral answer within 10 days. The author of the question may then give a maximum of two short speeches that agree with the answer, after which the person who gave the answer has the right to speak. If the regional government has announced that it does not intend to respond, no discussion is allowed.

Question time

The Speakers’ Conference may decide to organise a question time in the Parliament to deal with one or more specific issues. At question time, the Lantråd or a minister will first give a speech, after which the discussion in the Parliament will be free. The Parliament does not take a decision on such a matter that has been dealt with in a question time. Provisions on question time can be found in the Rules of Procedure and in the Speakers’ Conference’s instructions for question time.


The regional government must annually issue an annual report containing a financial statement and an activity report. In addition, the regional auditor annually submits a report with the results of the efficiency audit to the Parliament. During the financial year, the regional auditor may also submit audit reports relating to efficiency audits to the Parliament.

Both reports are discussed in the committees that can comment on them or suggest that a call be made to the regional government to take action.