Ministerial Committee on EU Affairs discussed the development of Council proceedings and increasing openness and transparency during Finland’s Presidency

Government Communications Department 8.3.2019 10.14 | Published in English on 8.3.2019 at 14.53
Press release 144/2019

At its meeting on 8 March, the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs outlined measures to develop the proceedings of the Council of the EU during Finland’s Presidency from 1 July to 31 December 2019. Finland aims to increase openness and transparency in the Council’s activities, strengthen the implementation of the principles of better regulation, and promote the utilisation of new technologies.

Finland also aims to increase the publicity of the Council’s legislative documents and initiate discussion on concrete actions to further increase openness and transparency within the EU in future. At the Council meetings during Finland’s Presidency the discussions between ministers will, as far as possible, be public.

Finland will communicate in a way that is as open and active as possible and serves the needs of both the citizens and media. The key premise is that public information is provided as quickly and clearly as possible.

Information on the meetings of the heads of Finland’s Permanent Representation to the EU will be made public. In the spirit of the European Transparency Initiative, the heads of the Permanent Representation will only meet representatives of organisations included in the transparency register. Before the start of the Presidency Finland will consider whether similar practices could be applied to ministers when serving in the capacity of Council Chairs.

Finland will also promote the development of digital tools in the Council. Cost savings could be achieved and emissions reduced if new technologies would be used to replace some of the traditional meetings.

It is important for citizens to have open access to information on the EU’s activities and decision-making, also to strengthen democracy and combat the dissemination of disinformation. The concrete measures will be discussed and decided in more detail during the spring.

The Ministerial Committee also discussed Finland’s views concerning the EU’s China policy that will be on the agenda at the European Council in March.

The Ministerial Committee drafted Finland’s positions for the following Councils:

  • Eurogroup on 11 March
  • Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) on 12 March
  • Informal Meeting of EU Affairs ministers 11-12 March
  • Employment and Social Policy Council 15 Match.

On the agenda at the Eurogroup is a thematic discussion on growth and employment relating to the housing market, Latvia’s updated draft budget plan, and the second report on enhanced surveillance concerning Greece.

At Ecofin the aim is to reach a political agreement on the Digital Advertising Tax (DAT) Directive. The aim is also to reach a general understanding on three legislative proposals concerning excise duties and to have a political discussion on the location of the secretariat to the Investment Committee of the InvestEU Programme.

On the agenda of the Informal Meeting of EU Affairs ministers in Bucharest is to discuss how the EU’s multiannual financial framework 2021-2027 could support the common priorities of the Union in a way that is as effective and flexible as possible. The aim is also to have a preliminary exchange of views on the EU priorities for the coming years.

In the employment and social policy the Council aims for a partial general approach on the Regulation on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGR). Also on the agenda at the Council are policy debates on the European social dimension post 2020 and the European semester for economic policy coordination 2019.

Inquiries: Kare Halonen, State Secretary for EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 319, Niina Nurkkala, Special Adviser (EU Affairs) tel. +358 50 347 2661, and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office