Prime Minister Sipilä: Several points in Juncker’s speech already among our priorities
Today we heard a speech on the State of the Union, when President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker delivered the last annual State of the Union address of his mandate. Juncker listed major EU challenges and presented concrete proposals. His speech was very good in many respects.
One small but ordinary point made by President Juncker was that a final decision on the changing of clocks twice a year is forthcoming. This is a victory for Finland. The initiative came from us and it has been promoted by our ministers and Members of Parliament.
Juncker’s speech was significant from the viewpoint of Finland’s Presidency of the EU Council. He raised points that Finland has worked hard for over a long period of time. Last week I sent President Juncker a letter related to these matters. I’d like to highlight six key points in Juncker’s speech:
- A clear champion of multilateralism and of free and open trade, where the EU is a major global player. Juncker also advocates the single market and digitisation. These are key issues for Finland. They are points that I also addressed in my letter to Juncker.
- The EU must strive for more ambitious climate targets, for example for reducing CO2 emissions. Legislation needs to encourage less use of plastics. This way we can take steps towards climate leadership in the EU - which is something I have called for before.
- Stronger and safer EU. The Commission is pursuing its work to create a more responsible and autonomous defence policy. It is only this way that we can protect our citizens against internal and external threats.
- United Europe and speaking with one voice. We need this in trade policy, foreign relations and climate policy. Without unanimity among the Member States, we cannot compete for global leadership.
- Comprehensive management of migration. I deem it important for the EU to take concrete steps to improve border security and to make the return processes more effective. Everything should be underpinned by a humane approach. The EU must find a way that takes into account solidarity between the Member States and new, legal migration pathways. The views presented by Juncker are ones that Finland has advocated for a long time. Now we have to make sure that changes will take place.
- Stronger EU partnership with Africa. Concrete investment in Africa to create new jobs and to boost investments are a tangible future task for the EU. The openings presented by Juncker take it a step further. This is a good thing.
Work related to these questions will continue already next week in the informal European Council in Austria.