Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs discusses special European Council
At its meeting on Friday 21 May, the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs outlined Finland’s positions leading up to the special European Council on 24 and 25 May and the other upcoming council meetings in Brussels. The Committee also received a number of topical reports.
The special European Council meeting will focus on the EU’s climate action, the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the Union’s relations with Russia and the UK. With regard to the pandemic, Finland’s view is that the production of vaccines still needs to be ramped up. Finland considers it wise to work towards a unified way to lift the restrictions once the epidemiological situation so permits. Finland also supports a coordinated approach to reopening safe travel in Europe and is in favour of advancing the EU Digital Covid Certificate.
Finland considers it important for the EU to achieve its ambitious climate targets for 2030 and 2050. The Union’s joint emission reduction target must be set so that it can be achieved in the most cost-effective way possible. All EU Member States must participate in implementing emission reductions, taking into account fairness and solidarity.
Finland emphasises unity and balance in the implementation of the EU’s Russia policy. Sanctions should be kept in force and broadened if necessary until the reasons for imposing them cease to exist. Dialogue and cooperation with Russia on issues of EU interest, such as climate and environmental issues, is also important.
Finland emphasises the importance of a united EU approach to the development of the EU’s relationship with the UK. The UK withdrawal agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which entered into force on 1 May, form a good basis for the EU–UK relationship.
At its meeting, the Ministerial Committee discussed new sources of financing for the EU’s own resources. The Commission is expected to submit its proposal on the digital levy, the revised emissions trading system and the carbon border adjustment mechanism in July.
In addition, the Ministerial Committee was briefed on the OECD’s project to reform international income taxation on the preparation of Finland’s national recovery plan. The Ministerial Committee also discussed a new proposed regulation on the use of artificial intelligence systems for high-risk applications that could cause significant harm to health, safety or the realisation of fundamental rights. The new regulation also places prohibitions on certain AI systems.
The Ministerial Committee on European Affairs also outlined Finland’s positions for the following meetings:
• Agriculture and Fisheries Council 26–27 May
• Competitiveness Council 27–28 May (internal market, industry, research and innovation, and space)
• Informal meeting of defence ministers 28 May
The most important issue for the Agriculture and Fisheries Council is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package. The Portuguese Presidency will hold a trilogue with Parliament and the Commission with a view to reaching an agreement on the package in connection with this Council meeting. Finland is prepared to support an overall solution that improves the impact of the CAP on the environment and climate, guarantees the profitability of agricultural production, simplifies the aid scheme and reduces the administrative burden.
The Competitiveness Council will discuss digital services and digital market regulations, the use of data technology for better regulation, the industrial strategy, access to critical raw materials, future tourism, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, deepening the European Research Area and the importance of the space sector.
The defence ministers will discuss the evaluation and steering process for security and defence cooperation, also known as the Strategic Compass. They will also have a discussion with African regional organisations and UN representatives on the EU–Africa partnership in crisis management. In addition, their meeting will include a discussion with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Inquiries: Jari Luoto, State Under-Secretary for European Affairs, tel. +358 50 468 5949, Tuulia Pitkänen, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 295 160 231, Kare Halonen, State Secretary for EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 319, and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office