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Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs discusses progress of Finland’s work to influence EU policy

Government Communications Department
Publication date 19.6.2024 14.01 | Published in English on 19.6.2024 at 15.48
Press release

In its meeting on Wednesday 19 June, the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs discussed the progress of Finland’s efforts to influence EU policy and ways to increase the number of Finns working in EU institutions. The Ministerial Committee also discussed the Union’s enlargement prospects and outlined Finland’s positions for upcoming meetings.

Finland’s main priorities with respect to EU policy are to strengthen Europe’s strategic competitiveness, improve comprehensive security in Europe and promote a clean transition while harnessing the opportunities of the bioeconomy and circular economy. The Member States largely share the same views on these themes on a general level, especially when it comes to security and competitiveness.
Finland has drafted dozens of letters and influencing papers on its priorities both independently and together with other like-minded countries. Finland has promoted its EU policy priorities at the political and official levels in numerous meetings with commissioners, ministers from other Member States and senior officials.

As set out in Government Programme, the Government adopted a resolution on organising efforts to exert influence in advance and on formulating Finland’s positions proactively in January 2024. In line with the resolution, the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs will hold a follow-up debate on advance influence activities in the spring.

The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs received a briefing on the number of Finns in EU institutions and the positions they hold. The Ministerial Committee also discussed measures to increase the number of Finns in EU roles.

The Government Programme pledges to promote Finnish public officials’ access to EU positions and to support the EU competence of officials in the central government. Promoting EU recruitment is a key component of Finland’s efforts to exert influence within the EU. Measures to promote Finnish recruitment have been intensified both in Finland and in Brussels. In addition to public officials, young people and students are a key target group. 

On 20 March 2024, the Commission adopted a Communication on pre-enlargement reforms and policy reviews. The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs discussed Finland’s views on the Union’s enlargement and its need for internal reforms. Finland’s position is that in the current geopolitical situation, enlargement policy must be seen as an integral part of the work to improve the security of the EU and the applicant countries. In Finland’s view, the EU’s activities should primarily be developed within the framework of the EU treaties. The June European Council will agree on how this work will proceed within the EU in the coming years. 

The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs also outlined Finland’s positions for the following upcoming meetings:

  • Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (Social Policy and Health) on 20–21 June
  • Eurogroup on 20 June and Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) on 21 June
  • Foreign Affairs Council on 24 June
  • General Affairs Council on 25 June
  • Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 24 June

The employment and social affairs ministers aim to agree on a negotiating position on a proposed revision to the European works councils directive. The ministers will also hold a policy debate on the social dimension of the internal market. In addition, they will endorse the La Hulpe Declaration on the Future of the European Pillar of Social Rights and adopt Council conclusions on the adequacy of pensions and on the role of labour market, education and social policies in resilient economies.

The health ministers will discuss a progress report on the revision of the EU’s pharmaceutical legislation (the pharmaceutical package) and exchange views on the package’s incentive scheme. The ministers will seek to adopt a Council Recommendation on vaccine-preventable cancers and to approve Council conclusions on the future of the European Health Union. Finland is prepared to adopt the recommendation and approve the conclusions.

The Economic and Financial Affairs Council will continue to discuss the proposals put forth by the Commission on 8 December 2022 for a directive and regulations to modernise the value-added tax system. The Council will discuss the frozen assets of the Russian Central Bank based on, among other things, the outcome of the G7 Summit held on 13–15 June 2024.

The Eurogroup will take stock of the international role of the euro and discuss the IMF Article IV review of euro area policies. The Eurogroup will also hold a discussion in inclusive format on the competitiveness of the euro area with a special focus on industrial policy and market integration.

The Foreign Affairs Council will discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East, the Western Balkans, Georgia and the Great Lakes region.

The General Affairs Council will continue its preparations for the June European Council on 27–28 June with an exchange of views on the European Council’s draft conclusions. The GAC will also hold a hearing on respect for the EU’s values in Hungary. 

At the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting on 24 June 2024, the Commission will present its communication on the state of play of sustainable fishing in the EU. The aim of the meeting is to approve a set of conclusions on the future of agriculture in the EU. The Agriculture and Fisheries Council will also seek a general approach on the Commission’s proposal to reform the Standing Forestry Committee.

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 Lauri Heikkinen, Senior Communications Specialist, tel. +358 295 160 034, Prime Minister’s Office