Ministerial Committee on EU Affairs discusses sustainable finance, essential patents and new genomic techniques
On Friday, 15 September, the Finnish Government’s Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs outlined Finland’s positions on the EU Regulation on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment (Taxonomy Regulation) and the Commission communication on a sustainable finance framework. In addition, the Ministerial Committee outlined Finland’s positions on Spain’s request to amend the EU Language Regulation, the Commission proposal for a regulation on standard essential patents and the Commission proposal to regulate plants obtained by certain new genomic techniques.
The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs continued the discussion on the EU’s sustainable finance package. The Taxonomy Regulation adopted in 2019 defines environmentally sustainable investments, and Commission delegated regulations define more specific criteria for directing funding to sustainable projects. Based on the Government’s deliberations on the previous delegated acts on the Taxonomy Regulation, the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs decided that Finland now opposes the adoption of the delegated acts proposed by the Commission in their current form. The Commission’s delegated acts enter into force unless the European Parliament or a qualified majority of the Council of European Union expresses an objection.
The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs also considered the Communication from the European Commission on a sustainable finance framework (COM 2023/317) and the Commission Recommendation (2023/1425) on facilitating finance for the transition to a sustainable economy. Finland welcomes the objectives of directing private capital flows to support a sustainable economy. However, Finland stresses that the sustainable finance framework must be as unambiguous and functional as possible to prevent, for example, greenwashing. Finland exerts influence in the EU to include new sectors, such as the mining and defence industries, in the Taxonomy so that criteria be specified for those industries to obtain sustainable funding.
The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs outlined that Finland has reservations about Spain’s request to add its three regional languages (Catalan, Basque and Galician) to the list of official and working languages of the Union. The EU currently has 24 official languages. Increasing the number of official and working languages would increase the financial and administrative burden and would likely also slow down EU decision-making and delay the entry into force of Union acts. Finland considers it important to safeguard cultural and linguistic diversity in the Union. However, the rights of speakers of regional languages at Union level can be promoted in less burdensome ways.
The Ministerial Committee discussed the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on standard essential patents proposed by the European Commission on 27 April 2023. A standard essential patent is a patent that protects technology essential to a standard. Essential patents are essential in the sense that the manufacture of a standard-compliant product requires the use of patent-protected inventions. The Finnish Government’s position on the matter will be made public after the Government plenary session.
The Ministerial Committee also discussed the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on plants obtained by certain new genomic techniques (NGT) and their food and feed submitted by the Commission on 5 July 2023. The proposal is part of a package of legislative proposals supporting the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy and Biodiversity Strategy. New genomic technologies have the potential to bring solutions to the challenges of agriculture and plant production. The Finnish Government’s position on the matter will be made public after the Government plenary session.
The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs also outlined Finland’s positions for the following councils:
• Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 18 September; and
• General Affairs Council, 19 September.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council will consider the proposal for a Directive on soil monitoring and resilience published by the Commission on 5 July 2023. The Council will also discuss trade-related agricultural issues. Finland supports the Commission in the swift conclusion of the ongoing trade agreement negotiation processes. In addition, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council will discuss the Commission communication on the long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas published on 30 June 2021.
A Council Regulation amending the EU Language Regulation is on the agenda of the General Affairs Council. On 17 August 2023, the Spanish government requested that Catalan, Basque and Galician be added to the EU’s list of official languages. The Council will start preparations for the October meeting of the European Council by examining the draft agenda for the European Council. The meeting will also continue the Council’s rule of law dialogue, and the Commission will present its work programme for 2024 at the meeting.
Inquiries: Tuomas Tikkanen, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 40 523 5768 and Jari Luoto, Director General of the EU Affairs Department, tel. +358 50 468 5949
The agendas of the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs, as well as public documents processed by the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs, are published on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office (in Finnish).