Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs discusses spike in energy prices and October European Council
In its meeting on Wednesday 20 October, the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs discussed the rise in energy prices and other issues on the agenda at the October European Council.
The increase in energy prices will be discussed at the European Council meeting on 21 and 22 October and at the extraordinary Energy Council on 26 October. The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs also outlined Finland’s positions on the European Commission Communication issued on the matter on 13 October. Finland considers the effects of rising prices regrettable for consumers and believes that the measures proposed by the Commission to ease the situation are fundamentally justified and appropriate.
In Finland’s view, when seeking solutions, it is important to take into account that there are several factors behind the rise in prices, the most significant of which is the increase in prices of fossil fuels. Phasing out fossil fuels and increasing the proportion of renewable and other emission-free energy are important, as this will also help to protect people from price shocks in the longer term. It is also important to refrain from creating new income distribution mechanisms within the EU based on the rising prices. As prices rise, it is important to ensure that national measures take into account the needs of the most vulnerable consumers.
Other topics on the agenda for the October European Council include the EU’s COVID-19 response measures, the digital transformation, migration, trade policy and a variety of external relations issues, such as the Eastern Partnership summit, the ASEM summit and the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
In Finland’s view, the production of COVID-19 vaccines must be further accelerated, also so that the EU can fulfil its commitment to global solidarity. Moving forward, the EU must be better and more holistically prepared for future crises.
Finland considers it important that ambitious targets are being set for the digital transformation. It is crucial to ensure the realisation of fundamental rights, information security and consumer and data protection. Finland emphasises the importance of developing the single market and linking the digital transformation to the green transition, and stresses the role of data in these processes. The EU should examine its ability to safeguard distribution chains and the availability of critical components, taking into account the global nature of supply and value chains, the need for a level playing field and future needs for use. Finland supports strengthening external relations connected to the EU’s digital and cyber policy and developing the EU’s cyber capacities.
In Finland’s view, migration requires comprehensive, common European solutions. The funds allocated to migration management during the current financial framework period must be used effectively. Partnerships with countries of origin and transit are crucial. The EU must seek solutions for the Common European Asylum System. The instrumentalisation of migration is unacceptable. The EU must engage in discussion on how to respond to such attempts. Control of the EU’s external borders must be effective and credible. It is integral to comply with the obligations of international law and fundamental and human rights.
Finland supports the objectives of transparency, sustainability and assertiveness set by the Commission for the EU’s trade policy. The EU must remain open to international trade and investments. The EU must play a leading role in reforming the World Trade Organization. The EU must further strengthen the important role of trade policy in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals.
In Finland’s view, from the perspective of the unity of the EU, it is good that the European Council is holding discussions in preparation for future summits and the COP26 and COP15 meetings.
Inquiries: Jari Luoto, State Under-Secretary for European Affairs, tel. +358 50 468 5949, Tuulia Pitkänen, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 295 160 231, Kare Halonen, State Secretary for EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 319, and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office