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Ministerial Committee on EU Affairs outlines Finland’s positions ahead of EU summit

Government Communications Department
Publication date 20.3.2024 10.41 | Published in English on 20.3.2024 at 15.26
Press release
Finland's and EU's flags

In its meeting on Wednesday 20 March, the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs outlined Finland’s positions for the European Council meeting and the Euro Summit to be held in connection with it. The Ministerial Committee also discussed Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path to EU membership, as well as the reform of the Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention.

Items on the agenda for European Council meeting on 21–22 March include Ukraine, security and defence, the Middle East, migration, the European Semester and key issues in external relations.

  • In Finland’s view, the EU should continue and increase its strong support for Ukraine and its sanctions against Russia as the war of aggression continues. Finland urges the Commission and the High Representative to prepare a proposal on how the profits from frozen Russian central bank assets could be used to support Ukraine.
  • Russia’s war of aggression and the changed security environment mean that, in Finland’s view, the EU must take long-term action in the field of security and defence. The EU must strengthen the capacity of its defence industry and deepen its defence cooperation.
  • Finland supports efforts to improve the EU’s preparedness for crises. Finland considers it important to promote the concept of comprehensive security as a key priority in the forthcoming EU strategic agenda and the programme of the next Commission, and will work to ensure that the next Commission submits a proposal on creating a preparedness union based on a comprehensive security approach.
  • With regard to the Middle East, Finland supports the EU’s strong, united action. Finland emphasises the urgent need to achieve a humanitarian ceasefire and enable the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Finland supports the EU’s efforts to advance the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a two-state model.
  • The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs decided that Finland could endorse the European Commission’s recommendation to open EU membership negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, provided that they are linked to progress in key reforms. The March European Council will discuss Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress based on the Commission’s report. In its December 2023 meeting, the European Council decided to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina once the membership criteria are sufficiently met.
  • In Finland’s view, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy should focus on improving food security. The Union must promote an open and fair trade policy.
  • With regard to migration issues in the EU, Finland emphasises the importance of taking a comprehensive approach in which measures are promoted both within the EU and in relations with third countries. In addition, Finland is determined to promote solutions that would prevent external actors from using migration as a tool for exerting influence on the Union.
  • With respect to the European Semester, Finland can accept the priorities of the Annual Sustainable Growth Survey and the proposal for a Council recommendation on economic policy in the euro area.

The Euro Summit will focus on the economic situation in the euro area and the future of the European capital markets union. In Finland’s view, it is important that economic developments in the euro area continue to be closely monitored. Finland will advance efforts to complete the capital markets union and the banking union in a way that does not place increased joint responsibility on Finland and the Finnish banking system. Finland stresses that the main objective of the capital markets union must be to ensure an efficient and liquid financial market.

The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs also discussed the European Commission’s proposal for a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention and outlined positions for advance influencing regarding a review of the need to protect large carnivores in the EU Habitats Directive. The Bern Convention is a treaty on the conservation of European wildlife and national habitats. The Commission proposes that the EU take the position at the Bern Convention meeting that the protection status of wolves should be downgraded. If the proposal is implemented in the Bern Convention, the protection status could also be downgraded in the EU Habitats Directive. Finland supports the Commission’s initiative and considers it important that the Commission also assess the need for protection of other large carnivore populations while taking into account social resilience.

Inquiries: Tuomas Tikkanen, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 40 523 5768, Jari Luoto, Director General, EU Affairs Department, tel. +358 50 468 5949, and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office

Agendas for the meetings of the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs and public documents discussed at the meetings are available on the Prime Minister’s Office website (in Finnish).