Finland takes over EU’s rotating presidency

With Finland taking over the EU’s rotating presidency this week, the Prime Minister, Antti Rinne, announced plans for the next six months, with the main focus being on:

  • Climate change
  • National budgets
  • Rule of law
  • Boosting competition

In the announcement, the coalition government laid out its targets, which include making the EU a global leader in the fight against climate change, whilst improving social inclusion and boosting the EU’s competitiveness.

Despite recent fallouts between France and Germany over the nomination process for the next President of the Commission, Rinnie said at a summit in Helsinki that it’s likely that a package will be agreed next week.

But what else could be on the agenda for the next six months? According to the Prime Minister, the main areas of focus will be the following:

Carbon neutrality and tackling climate change 

The main item on the agenda for the presidency is speeding up the process of achieving carbon neutrality. The EU has a target of reaching this by 2050. However, with some member states not working towards this target, Finland plans to try and convince governments to transition to zero emissions.

With the EU set to lose an estimated  €45 billion from its budget after Brexit later in the year, Rinnie noted that “the EU must play a global leadership in climate action”, in line with the  Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF)

Rule of law and safety of citizens 

The new presidency has also said it will increase pressure on countries, such as Hungary, over rule of law. Additionally, it said it will push forward sanctions against countries that don’t follow procedures.

In a press conference, Rinnie said: “It is not possible to tell our citizens that we are going to give money to countries that do not follow the rule of law.”

Greater national responsibility for budgets 

With regards to the eurozone, Finland’s government believes that “each country needs to take responsibility for its economic policies”. However, it also said that it could introduce a “small eurozone budget” in order to support investments and stabilize countries that are struggling.

Under the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact, there should be more willingness to focus on education and other investments. In terms of member states breaking the “rules”, Rinnie noted “we need to respect the rules…the rules don’t change when the government change”.

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