Statement by the Prime Minister to Parliament on the negotiation result with the European Union

Government Communications Department 3.3.1994 22.00
Prime Minister's Announcement -

Prime Minister Esko Aho

Mrs Speaker of Parliament,

When Parliament in March 1992 decided to support Finland's application for membership the European. Community, we knew that we made a far reaching and historical national choice.

Now that two years have elapsed from that time, I am able to inform you that agreement has been reached on the contents of Finland's Accession Treaty.

The outcome of the negotiations of last Tuesday on issues relating to agriculture as well as regional and structural policy makes it possible for us to proceed to the drafting of the final Accession Treaty.

By way of this notification by the Prime Minister, the Government wants to give an account of the outcome of the negotiations as well as to provide Parliament an opportunity to discuss it. This notification is a sequel to the dialogue which has included, e.g., the Government Report and Communication to Parliament and the purpose of which has been to seek understanding in this nationally important issue.

Mrs Speaker of Parliament,

Membership in the European Union will involve almost every field of life. The EEA Agreement gave us the rights and obligations relating especially to the internal market. In the course of the past year of the accession negotiations, a number of other issues have been dealt with and agreed upon.

When weapplied for membership, we considered that, from our point of view, the most important negotiation issues, would be foreign and security policy, agriculture and food industries and regional policy. In the present address, I want to concentrate especially on these three. A more comprehensive account on the outcome of the negotiations will be delivered separately.

In the post cold war situation we based our foreign and security policy on military non alliance and independent, credible defence. This is how we have defined the core of our policy of neutrality.

In the course of the negotiations we are able to become convinced of the fact that the foundations of our national foreign and security policy are not in conflict with the obligations arising from Union membership. In this respect, the outcome of the negotiations corresponds to our objectives.

The outcome of the negotiations also makes it possible that, as Finland becomes a member, it can take part in the 1996 Inter governmental Conference, which is to decide on the development of common foreign and security policy within the Union.

Mrs speaker of Parliament,

Membership in the European Union will bring about the common market of agricultural and food products. How we will manage this issue is of very great significance for not only the food industries but for the entire society. This explains why so much attention was paid on food production in our negotiations. This was the case in respect of other applicants, too.

The obtained result will secure the preconditions for agriculture through a permanent system which covers the whole country and which will be financed from Union funds and the national budget.

The support system of northern agriculture will materialize, but its financing will depend more on national financing than we had proposed. The Government considers it important that the contents and allocation of the national contributions to the northern support system be decided as soon as possible.

The EU ministerial group has therefore today decided to launch preparations for arrangement of the transition period for both the northern support and food industries. The government hopes that the opposition will also take part in the development of these national solutions. This does not involve, except for the transition period, imposition of new taxes for the benefit of the food industry but reallocation of the existing ones.

Mrs Speaker of Parliament,

Membership in the Union further involves participation in a common regional and structural policy, which will complement our own national measures.

The outcome of the negotiations means that a good two billion markkas a year will be allocated to Finland from the Union's structural funds to be invested, in the first place, in sparsely populated areas, declining industrial areas, the development of rural area and improving the employment situation.

An entirely new support objective (objective six) was created with a view to responding to the conditions of the northern applicants, involving in Finland the areas of Lapland, the Kuusamo region, Kainuu, North Karelia, Southern Savo and certain regions areas adjacent to these areas, which will be chosen separately.

The results of the negotiations in the fields of agriculture as well as regional and structural policy will guarantee that, at least in the initial phase of membership, Finland gill be a net receiver from the EU budget.

Finland's gross payment in the EU budget is expected to be approximately FIM 6.3 billion a year. Half of that will return to Finland in the form of agricultural support, the above mentioned two billion in the form of regional and structural support and some further half billion markkas mainly through R&D programmes. Moreover, during the first four years of membership Finland will receive nearly three billion markkas to ease the consequences of direct price adjustment.

Mrs Speaker of Parliament,

When we decided to apply for membership in the European Union, we started from the precondition that membership is possible if its terms fulfill our basic demands: an equal position among the Member states and recognition of our national special conditions.

The result of the negotiations was hard to achieve. It consists of both benefits and concessions. Together with the national measures to be subsequently decided upon, the outcome of the negotiations fulfils our basic objectives and thus corresponds to Finland's national interests.

Mrs Speaker of Parliament,

I want to express warm thanks to Foreign Trade Minister Salolainen and Foreign Minister Haavisto, who have led the negotiations, as well as to the other members in negotiating delegation and to the large number of experts who have supported their work.

The negotiators' efforts have been backed by a wide national understanding. The government's objectives have also received valuable support from the opposition.

The work has by no means ended yet. Finland aims at closing the negotiations formally next week. The Accession Treaty must be finalised. Our national measures have to be agreed upon at a swift pace. At the beginning of the autumn, we will have the referendum and after that Parliament will take the final stand on membership.

This process will also try our national unanimity.

Membership requires the support of the Finnish people. It can be achieved only if people can be assured of the necessity and advantages of membership. We can best contribute to that by giving the citizens as realistic a picture of the conditions and benefits and disadvantages of membership as possible. This is exactly what has been done up to now.