EU affairs and the Finnish government

The main responsibility for the preparation, monitoring and determination of Finland's positions in affairs relating to the European Union rests with the relevant ministries.

Finland’s system for coordinating EU affairs aims to ensure that Finland can present a coordinated position in line with Finland's general EU policy on any issue under consideration in the European Union at any stage of consideration.

The system for coordinating EU affairs in Finland is unique among the EU Member States. It is based on outlines issued by the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs, effective preparation and coordination work by public officials, and timely communications to and involvement of Parliament.

The Government EU Affairs Department is responsible for ensuring the coordination of EU affairs and the smooth functioning of the coordination system. The system consists of the relevant ministries, the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs, the Committee for EU Affairs and its sub-committees. Finland's Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels also takes part in the preparation of EU affairs.

In discussing and coordinating EU affairs, particular attention is paid to involving and informing the Government of Åland.

Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs

The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs meets every week, usually on Fridays, to discuss topical EU matters that are significant from a political, economic and legal standpoint. The ministerial committee also regularly discusses matters via written procedure. The ministerial committee agrees on all of Finland’s policy guidelines for the formal and informal meetings of the Council of the European Union. The ministerial committee is chaired by the Prime Minister

Government EU Affairs Department at the Prime Minister’s Office

The Government EU Affairs Department is responsible for coordinating matters related to the EU and for seeing to the proper running of the national coordination system. The Department serves as the secretariat for the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs and the Committee for EU Affairs, and it is represented in all sectoral sub-committees appointed by the Committee for EU Affairs.

The Government EU Affairs Department is also responsible for 

  • preparing for European Council meetings
  • handling matters related to the general development of the EU and institutional questions
  • supporting the EU-related work of the Prime Minister and the Minister for European Affairs
  • communicating guidance to Finland’s Permanent Representation to the European Union together with the responsible ministries
  • developing procedures for the coordination and preparation of EU affairs
  • handling EU matters that do not fall within the mandate of other ministries
  • ensuring the flow of information between Finland’s Permanent Representation to the EU and the national authorities, and
  • participating in the Government’s EU-related training, communications and document management

Committee for EU Affairs and sub-committees

The Committee for EU Affairs is a cooperative body with representatives from ministries, the Office of the President of the Republic, the Office of the Chancellor of Justice, the Bank of Finland and the Government of Åland. It discusses broad EU issues that involve several ministries, such as ways of influencing the European Commission Work Programme. The Committee also makes decisions on Finland's national experts seconded to EU institutions and agencies. The Committee is chaired by the State Secretary for EU Affairs, who is also the head of the Government EU Affairs Department.

The Committee for EU Affairs has appointed a total of 36 sector-specific preparative sub-committees. The sub-committees constitute the foundation for the preparation of EU affairs by public officials. The chairperson and secretary of each EU sub-committee usually represent the competent ministry.

The sub-committees can assemble in a restricted or extended composition. The restricted composition includes public officials from the competent ministries and representatives of other ministries and government agencies. The extended composition also includes representatives from various interest groups and other stakeholders. The Government EU Affairs Department from the Prime Minister's Office and the Government of Åland are also represented in each sub-committee. The sub-committees meet as necessary.

Finland's Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels

Finland's Permanent EU Representation prepares issues to be decided by the Council of the European Union based on instructions from the Government of Finland. Public official committees play a prominent role in the preparation of these issues. The most important of these committees is COREPER (Comité des Représentants Permanents), which consists of the Member States' Permanent Representatives to the EU.

COREPER is assisted by more than 200 working parties in which the Member States are represented by experts deployed by the Member State’s capital or its Permanent Representation to the EU. The working parties meet every week, and the public officials who take part in them report on the proceedings within 24 hours.


Parliament participates in the national-level preparation of decisions to be made by the EU and is also informed of them. The Grand Committee in Parliament is responsible for handling EU matters based on statements provided by special committees. Matters relating to the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy are handled by the Foreign Affairs Committee.  

The Government provides Parliament with information on EU issues through Europe communications, Union communications, and Foreign and Security Policy communications. The Government may also submit other documents to Parliament, such as statements and reports. In addition, the Prime Minister may issue announcements to Parliament.

Union communications

Union communications are prepared on matters to be decided by the EU which, due to their content, would fall within the competence of Parliament if Finland were not a member of the EU. These matters may relate to legislation or to Parliament’s budgetary power or powers related to international treaties. Union communications are adopted at government plenary sessions. A communication describes the essential content of the EU’s proposal and the Government’s position on the matter. Communications are always prepared in both Finnish and Swedish.

Europe communications

A Europe communication is a report submitted by a ministry to notify Parliament about a matter (other than legislation, the budget or international treaties) that is under consideration in the EU. Parliament must especially be notified of EU matters that are important in principle or politically or that have major financial implications. Such matters include Commission communications on forthcoming legislative proposals. The Grand Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee may also request a report on any of the EU-related matters that fall within their mandate.

Foreign and Security Policy communications

The Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament deals with EU matters falling within its mandate. The Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament has the right to receive reports on matters pertaining to foreign and security policy from the Government upon request and when otherwise necessary. These reports are referred to as Foreign and Security Policy communications

Reports, statements and announcements

The Government may submit to Parliament a statement or a report relating to governance or international relations. Following a discussion on a statement, Parliament may take a vote of confidence in the Government or a minister. Reports are not subject to voting. The Prime Minister or any other member of the Government designated by the Prime Minister may submit an announcement to Parliament on a matter falling under the mandate of the Government. Announcements – which are not subject to any decision – are discussed in Parliament plenary sessions.