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“Sustainable” is in the air for the Finnish Presidency of the Council

18 juillet 2019

While EU heads of State and government spent the whole night of 30 June to 1 July trying to find the right candidates for the main EU top jobs, Finland surreptitiously took over the Council Presidency for the next 6 months. After MEPs have elected their new President and have approved the future European Commission President, the Finnish Presidency was ready to present its programme to MEPs and the press on 17 July 2019.

Published on 26 June 2019, the Finnish presidency programme was presented and debated in Strasbourg, just after the Prime Minister Antti Rinne delivered a speech during the European Parliament plenary session.

Finland’s Presidency agenda focuses on the realisation of the SDGs at European level, for a “Sustainable Europe – Sustainable Future. To sum up this agenda, “the priorities for Finland’s Presidency are to strengthen common values and the rule of law, to make the EU more competitive and socially inclusive, to strengthen the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action and to protect the security of citizens comprehensively”.

The ambitions of the Finnish government are articulated around four main topics: to strengthen common values and the rule of law in the EU; to make the EU more competitive and socially inclusive; to strengthen the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action; to protect the security of the citizens comprehensively.

Despite not mentioning the local and regional levels as priorities, the EU agenda of Finland for the next six months is guided by the main objective of sustainable development. It implies some references to development aid, which seems to be fully integrated to their external action vision and action:

  • First, Finland plans to use “all of its external action instruments, such as diplomacy, crisis management operations, trade policy and development aid, in a comprehensive and coherent manner” in order to ensure the security of EU citizens.
  • Second, “the EU’s leading role in development policy” should be maintained in order for the EU to keep playing its “key role in shaping global governance”. One of its roles is to ensure an “active dialogue around the world”, including by “pursuing a more equitable, mutually beneficial and comprehensive EU-Africa partnership”. Africa remains “the geographical focus of the EU’s development financing”. The EU neighbourhood’s stability “remains a vital EU interest”.
  • Third, the multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, which is under negotiations at the Council, shall result in a “balanced financial framework that reflects both new priorities and traditional policies that contribute to the common European objectives, and within the jointly agreed ceilings”.

Finland’s Presidency programme will be discussed today (18 July 2019) during the General Affairs Council in Brussels. At this meeting, Finland will brief the Council on the plans for further work on the multiannual financial framework 2021–2027.

For more information on the Finnish presidency of the EU:

(Picture: © European Union 2019 – Source : EP)