Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs discusses upcoming summits, economic affairs and international issues
At its meeting on Thursday 9 December, the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs outlined Finland’s positions for next week’s European Council, Euro Summit and Eastern Partnership Summit.
Other items on the agenda included an assessment of the EU’s economic policy coordination, the EU’s Arctic policy, the continuation of restrictive measures imposed on Russia in response to its destabilising actions in Ukraine, and Finland’s positions for next week’s council meetings.
Topics on the agenda for the December European Council on 16 December include the COVID-19 pandemic, crisis management and resilience, energy prices, security and defence, migration, and external relations.
- In Finland’s view, the production of COVID-19 vaccines and the rollout of vaccines among the population must be accelerated further. Global improvement of the availability of vaccines is essential for ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The EU must develop its resilience and preparedness for crises comprehensively and in a way that takes into account a wide range of different risks. It is particularly important to improve security of supply and ensure that the single market can remain functional in times of crisis.
- The effects of higher energy prices on consumers are regrettable. Phasing out fossil fuels and increasing the proportion of renewable and other emission-free energy are important, as this will also help to protect people from price shocks in the longer term.
- Finland’s objective is a broad-based strategic compass that strengthens the EU’s security and defence cooperation and thereby also improves security in Europe and beyond. The development of the EU’s security and defence cooperation also benefits NATO as it enhances European security and capabilities.
- With regard to external relations and migration, equitable and sustainable partnerships with countries of origin and transit are crucial. The funds allocated to migration management must be used effectively. The instrumentalisation of migrants is unacceptable.
- The EU needs a strong and united response to Belarus. Finland supports a gradual broadening of sanctions with a view to establishing a strong legal basis and EU unity. It is important for the EU to show strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU must strengthen its partnership with Africa and outline the priorities for future cooperation at the European Union-African Union summit that will take place in February.
The Euro Summit to be held in connection with the European Council on 16 December will discuss the current economic situation and examine progress with regard to the Banking Union and the Capital Markets Union. Finland stresses that deepening the Banking Union must be based on the implementation of investor liability and the aim of breaking the “bank-sovereign vicious circle”. The debate on the Capital Markets Union at the EU level mainly concerns the need to further harmonise insolvency legislation, taxation and corporate law. Finland is willing to investigate how EU-level actions could promote the implementation of a deeper Capital Markets Union.
The EU-Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Brussels the day before the European Council (15 December) is expected to adopt a new work programme for the Eastern Partnership and a joint declaration. The Eastern Partnership aims to create stable, prosperous, democratic and safe societies in the EU’s neighbourhood by strengthening the social resilience of the partner countries and by improving citizens’ living conditions, and Finland considers this goal important.
The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs also outlined Finland’s positions on EU fiscal policy reform. Finland is participating actively in the discussion on the functionality and development of the economic policy coordination framework and EU fiscal policy rules. In the discussions, Finland has taken an open view on examining different questions and alternatives in line with the Government Report on EU Policy. Finland will formulate more detailed positions on the reform of the EU’s economic policy coordination system and fiscal policy rules based on consultations and discussions next spring.
The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs also outlined Finland’s position on extending the validity of the restrictive measures imposed as a result of Russia’s efforts to destabilise the situation in Ukraine. The matter will be discussed at next week’s European Council, after which the Council will make its decision.
The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs discussed the communication of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission concerning Arctic policy. Finland considers the communication important and timely. The communication is in line with Finland’s view, according to which the challenges of the Arctic region should be better taken into account in the Union’s activities. The EU’s role and input are needed in order to combat climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental pollution and due to the environmental, economic and geopolitical consequences of rapid changes taking place in the Arctic region. Finland stresses the importance of taking Arctic issues into account more comprehensively in the Union’s many sector-specific policies, not only within the sphere of foreign and security policy.
The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs also outlined Finland's positions for the following councils:
- Foreign Affairs Council (13 December)
- Agriculture and Fisheries Council (12–13 December)
- General Affairs Council (14 December)
The Foreign Affairs Council will focus on EU-Africa relations, Central Asia and Venezuela. The ministers will also discuss the situation in Afghanistan with the Qatari Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council will decide on fishing opportunities related to certain fish stocks in the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, as well as in waters outside the Union, in 2022. In addition, a decision will be made on restricting eel fishing in marine areas. The Council will also adopt conclusions on a preparedness plan to secure the food supply and safeguard food security during crises. In other matters, the Commission will present its proposal for a regulation concerning the placing on the EU market and the export of products that contribute to deforestation or degradation of the state of forests. The Council will also hear the Presidency’s progress report on amending the regulations on the supervision of fisheries.
The main topics on the agenda for the General Affairs Council will be the preparations for the December European Council, EU enlargement, and progress reports on the procedures under Article 7 of the EU Treaty with regard to Poland and Hungary (adherence to the Union’s common values).
Inquiries: Jari Luoto, State Under-Secretary for European Affairs, tel. +358 50 468 5949, 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