Teemu Rantanen

Finnish perspective on the French Presidency priorities

The Finnish media has not clearly presented the four French priorities so far. The main newspaper mentioned them for the first time a day before the start of the French Presidency. The expectations of Finland during the French Presidency are threefold. Firstly, Finland is looking forward to issues related to developing the European Security and Defence Policy and its responsibilities. Secondly, emphasis is being put on the Lisbon Process. Thirdly, for Finland relations between the EU and Russia play an important role. The expectations in this regard are high due to the strong presidential system in France and Russia having new rulers. In addition to this, the energy and climate package should be almost ready by the beginning of next year when the European Parliament starts the electoral campaign.[1]
Finland’s View on Developing EEAS

The future of EU enlargement: Finland’s special status in the process

Enlargement is one of the central goals of Finnish EU politics and thus Finland has consistently supported the enlargement process. Along with the enlargement process, bilateral relations with new member states have become closer.[1] According to the Finnish point of view, there is no need to restart discussing the enlargement policies of the Union. The Finnish position on the Commission’s enlargement strategy and progress reports is the following: 1) the enlargement strategy of the Commission is consistent with the Finnish goals regarding enlargement. 2) The intention of the Commission to pay more attention to public administration and judicial systems is seen as a positive issue in Finland. 3) Finland also shares the position of the Commission regarding the progress of Croatia, Turkey, Macedonia/FYROM, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo.[2] Finland has traditionally emphasized progress in fulfilling the commitments both in the enlargement negotiations as in the SAA process.[3]

Near media silence on the issue

The public reactions to the result of the Irish referendum can be described as ‘silent’. Officially, the resounding ‘No’ vote was received with much regret. Significant comments on the result came from the following politicians: Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, the European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn, and a member of parliament Timo Soini from the True Finns Party. The Prime Minister noted how the Irish have given the other member states a lot of trouble in the weeks ahead but that it was important that other member states would forge ahead with the ratification processes.[1] Also, the openly pro-EU Foreign Minister, Alexander Stubb, expressed his disappointment but stated his confidence in the European Union’s ability to find a creative solution to the current impasse.

Lisbon Treaty: Ratification expected before July

The government will make the proposal on the Lisbon Treaty in March 2008 and thus it will most likely be discussed in the Parliament during the same month.[1] The Finnish government accepted the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE) on 5th of December, 2006[2] which was preceded by a lengthy and in-depth discussion during which the security guarantees were among the main topics. For the reason that the discussion around TCE was so comprehensive, the discussion on Lisbon Treaty is expected to be short and the ratification process is expected to end before July. However, since this discussion, the government has changed in March 2007 and therefore there is some debate to be expected. The ultimate goal, alongside with the EU, is to ratify the Treaty during this year. One also has to bear in mind that the proposal has to be written in two official languages which takes longer time. It has already been decided that there will not be a referendum on the issue.[3] Communication with citizens is being coordinated by the Europe Information offices of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.[4] They are planning to publish a leaflet and hold seminars on the subject in various cities in Finland.

Begging, immigration and identity

Tuulia Nieminen, Johanna Nykänen and Aaretti Siitonen

Between ethical considerations and political interests

Tuulia Nieminen, Johanna Nykänen and Aaretti Siitonen