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Finland’s initiatives progress at European Council

Prime Minister's Office
Publication date 21.3.2024 23.30
Press release
Prime Minister Orpo walking towards the media in Europa building
Photo: EU

EU leaders, meeting in Brussels on Thursday 21 March, showed strong support for Ukraine and moved forward on Europe’s defence preparedness and capabilities.

The European Council called on the European Investment Bank to increase funding for the European defence industry. Finland launched an initiative on the matter in the lead-up to the European Council with the support of 13 other EU Member States. The European Council also discussed other ways of speeding up the production of European defence materiel.
The European Council also made progress on Finland's second initiative: applying the Finnish comprehensive security model at the European level. The EU leaders urged the Commission and the High Representative to propose a preparedness strategy that would bolster preparedness and crisis management at the EU level. The strategy would be a society-wide approach that would take all threats into account. On the day before the European Council meeting, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen invited President Sauli Niinistö to prepare a report on ways to improve the crisis resilience of European societies.
“Improving Europe’s comprehensive security is one of the Finnish Government's key goals for the next EU Strategic Agenda for 2024–2029. I am very pleased with the progress we have made on this issue at this European Council meeting,” said Prime Minister Orpo.
The European Council reiterated its strong support for Ukraine. The EU and its Member States intend to speed up and intensify military assistance. At the same time, they will tighten sanctions to undermine Russia’s ability to continue its war of aggression. The EU leaders called on third parties to stop supporting Russia. The leaders were once again joined by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky via video conference for a discussion.
The leaders of the EU Member States also had a meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The topics for the meeting included the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Later in its meeting, the European Council decided to call for a ceasefire, for the release of hostages and for humanitarian access.
The European Council also decided to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina on the basis of a recommendation from the Commission.
The European Council meeting will continue on Friday.
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 07 33, Prime Minister’s Office.