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Finnish five party government led by Social Democrat Antti Rinne takes up office

Finnish five party government led by Social Democrat Antti Rinne takes up office

Finnish five party government led by Social Democrat Antti Rinne takes up office, with Jutta Urpilainen nominated to become the first female Commissioner from Finland

LP Advisor Kai Keski-Korhonen writes on the Finnish government plans and EU presidency. Read what the five party Social Democrat led coalition looks like, what it plans to do, what their EU policy is going to look like during the Finnish Presidency of the European Council and beyond.

The Parliamentary election results in Finland, with the Social Democrats (SDP) coming out as winners with a narrow margin over the Finns Party, have resulted in a five party coalition, made of the SDP, Center party (C), Greens (G), the Left party (L) and the Swedish national party (S), as I predicted in the last article.

Negotiations took a week longer than the ambitious initial target of forming a government by 27 May, but only a week extra, and of course we had European Elections coming in between. Confirmation by the Finnish Parliament was given on Thursday 6 June and Ministers have been officially nominated.

So what can we expect from the Finnish Presidency and Finnish EU policy in general? The Presidency programme is vague, partly due to the elections, but also because of the change of Commission. But it’s clear that climate change will be high up on the agenda for domestic reasons and there is a clear intent to push the EU to adopt an even tighter line on emissions. Low carbon, carbon neutral and emissions reduction will be key words in this field. And they will try to impose that on legislation and programs wherever possible.

On the EU budget we might see a slightly less strict view from Finland than was expected, even if they still aim to reduce their contribution to the budget. In the negotiations on the Multi Annual Financial Framework, Finland will still want to get something back from their contributions. If we are to have a minimalist post-Brexit budget (provided Brexit happens), as the previous government sought, the negotiations will become very difficult.

Transport policy will be heavily rail focused as well as the need for carbon neutral requirements across all modes. The better functioning of the ‘Internal Market’ will be a clear priority, as well as social justice and cohesion. We might see some activity on digitization, though the area is vague and lacking detailed proposals.

In general, it seems it will be business as usual, nothing fancy but we can expect the Finnish Presidency to be efficient and fairly low key.

Urpilainen’s nomination as candidate for Commissioner was no surprise – I predicted this in my last article. It was more about whether she was prepared to accept the nomination. Some do see this as an attempt at making amends for her 2014 dethronement, where she lost a very tight vote in party conference on the party leadership, 253-247, to Rinne as Party leader, but most think that she is highly qualified and has the experience to get a decent portfolio.

Some will look back at her time as Minister of Finance and the Greek negotiations, where she demanded guarantees for Finland, but others are likely to look at that experience as a strength. It will be interesting to see how the interviews in the European Parliament eventually go for her, depending on portfolio of course.


© Laura Kotila/valtioneuvoston kanslia - Finnish Government

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