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Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs discussed the management of EU affairs and March European Council

Government Communications Department 15.3.2019 10.05 | Published in English on 15.3.2019 at 14.45
Press release 157/2019

The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs discussed the procedures in Finland to influence EU affairs in the coming weeks. Led by the caretaker government, Finland will continue to be active in EU affairs. The ministers will participate in the European Union Council meetings and informal meetings of ministers as usual.

At the ministerial level influencing the EU affairs will continue on the basis of positions outlined by the Ministerial Committee on EU Affairs or decided at the government plenary session, which have also been agreed with the Parliament. This work is particularly important considering Finland’s upcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU and the preparation of the strategy that will guide the EU for the next five years. Established procedures will be followed to ensure that Finland has a position that is in line with Finland's general EU policy on any issue under consideration in the European Union at any stage of the process. The fact that the government acts in caretaker capacity has no impact on the Parliament’s role in the preparation of EU affairs.

At the European Council meeting on 21–22 March Finland will stress the role of the Single Market as a key cornerstone of growth in the EU. Together with 16 other Member States Finland has signed and sent a letter on further development of the Single Market to the European Council President. Finland stresses a comprehensive approach where the Single Market policy, industrial policy, digitalisation and external dimension interact more closely and complement each other to promote growth and competitiveness. What is particularly important is broadly-based development of a digital economy and service economy. Other key themes at the European Council are climate change, China, combatting disinformation, Brexit and climate policy.

In terms of Brexit it seems likely that the UK is going to ask for an extension of the negotiations. Such an extension requires a unanimous decision by the European Council. The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs decided that, to avoid a no-deal Brexit, Finland could accept such request. The position to be adopted regarding the request that the UK may present depends a great deal on how the UK plans to use the extension. The duration of the extension must be proportionate to the objectives set for it.

An agreement on further measures associated with the EU’s long-term emissions reduction strategy should be reached at the March European Council. In line with the Paris Agreement, Finland is committed to preparing the strategy by the end of 2020. Making progress in the preparation of the EU’s long-term strategy is a key climate policy priority for Finland’s Presidency.

The Ministerial Committee also talked about the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda). Finland considers that the EU must continue its ambitious work to promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda both within the EU and in external activities. Sustainable Development Goals should be taken into account in a comprehensive manner in the EU’s long-term strategies and plans.

The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs also outlined Finland's positions for the following councils:

  • Foreign Affairs Council on 18 March
  • Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 18 March
  • General Affairs Council incl. Art 50 General Affairs Council on 19 March
  • Informal meeting of transport ministers on 26–27 March.

The topics for the Foreign Affairs Council are China, Yemen and Moldova. The General Affairs Council will prepare for the European Council and discuss the Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU, with particular focus on migration and climate funding. The Agriculture and Fisheries Council will discuss the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the EU Bioeconomy Strategy. In connection with the informal meeting of transport ministers there will be a separate Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Conference.

The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs also acknowledged the very serious act of terror committed in New Zealand and strongly condemned it.

Inquiries: Kare Halonen, State Secretary for EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 319, Niina Nurkkala, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 50 347 2661 and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office

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