Finnish Government launches preparation of report on EU policy

, by Joonas Turunen

Finnish Government launches preparation of report on EU policy

The Finnish Government convened a seminar to discuss the vision for Finland’s EU policy on Monday, 2nd of February. The seminar was arranged to support the preparation of the Government report on EU policy currently being drafted. The report is the first Government strategy for EU since Finland’s accession in the Union in 1995.

The seminar gathered some 300 central Finnish EU figures to the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki. Among the invitees were MEP’s, leaders of Parliamentary Committees, academics, NGO’s, political parties, representatives of administration and the Media.

Among the speakers were Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb, Member of the European Commission Olli Rehn, Vice-Chair of the Reflection Group on EU’s future Jorma Ollila, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari and Chairman of the Finnish Social Democratic Party Jutta Urpilainen.

The seminar mapped out priorities for EU policy after 2010 and discussed the development of the European Union after the June European Parliament Elections.

The Government report on EU policy is scheduled to be handed for the consideration of the Finnish Parliament before May. With the report, the Finnish Government aims to produce a common goal for EU advocacy and clarify key goals for the development of the European Union.

Finland seeks post of Foreign Minister for Rehn

In the seminar, PM Matti Vanhanen made a clear statement that Finland is supporting the European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn for a second term in the Commission. Vanhanen called for a unified Finnish front to ensure Rehn a heavy portfolio in the new Commission, preferably the seat of the new High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

In his address, Vanhanen also called for the re-election of Commission President José Manuel Barroso. According to Vanhanen, clear support for Barroso would enable the current Commission to work effectively until the Irish referendum in fall 2009 and provide for a hasty start for the new Commission.

Vanhanen, Finland’s representative in the European Council, also dismissed calls for European parties to nominate their candidates for the president of the European Commission before the European elections. In his view, the possibility for the European Council to name the Commission President establishes a stronger mandate than a mandate from the European Parliament alone.

He noted, that the European Council decided in December to make a decision about the top post of the Commission in the next Council meeting in June 2009.

Following the financial turmoil, the Finnish Prime Minister also promised to bring forward initiatives for the EU to establish a new authority for Financial and Monetary Regulation within the stuctures of the European Central Bank.

Stubb: EU suffers from treaty fatigue

The Finnish Foreign Minister Stubb, a former MEP, called for further treaty reforms to be put on hold after the Lisbon Treaty. He called for the EU to make effective use of the competence it already has and focus on substance, instead of longing for yet another treaty reform.

Stubb also demanded that the EU should be able to speak with one voice even if not all the member states are unanimous.

the EU should be able to speak with one voice even if not all the member states are unanimous

In his view, the crisis in the Middle-East was a good example of confusing foreign policy, with the EU represented by the foreign ministers of the current and the previous EU presidency, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the High Representative Javier Solana.

Stubb suggested that the foreign ministers of EU member states should set egoism aside and let Solana speak for the whole of the EU.

Image: Olli Rehn, Member of the European Commission; source: Audiovisual services of the European Commission

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