Finland’s new right-wing government has placed itself on a collision course with Brussels as it made a number of significant pledges on the European Union’s budget and surrendering national powers to the bloc.
Moreover, it stated its intention to “maintain and deepen” the country’s links to the United Kingdom.
The four-party right-wing coalition, led by conservative leader Petteri Orpo, said in a statement outlining a clear change in the relations between Helsinki and Brussels: “Finland wants the EU to play big on big issues and small on small issues.
“Finland advocates for a clear division of competences between the Union and the member states, which should not be expanded with a new interpretation of the treaties.”
The coalition, which came together after weeks of negotiations in the wake of the elections held in Finland in April, vowed to resist any more European-level bailouts or rescue funds – such as the coronavirus recovery fund – stating EU governments are solely responsible for their own national debt.
Moreover, the euro-sceptic agreement ruled out increasing Finland’s payments to the EU budget and surrendering more national powers to Brussels.
The coalition agreement also read: “The EU budget must be kept at a reasonable level, avoiding an increase in Finland’s net contribution.
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“Finland will not commit to measures that would shape the European Union into an asymmetric income transfer union. The recovery instrument was an exceptional one-off solution that should not serve as a precedent.”
Defiantly, the Finnish coalition added it aims to keep close ties with Britain, saying: “The government will maintain and deepen Finland’s close multi-sectoral links to the United Kingdom. It will promote a strong partnership between the UK and the EU.”
The new right-wing coalition has already promised a radical austerity programme to repair the stagnant Finnish economy and is set to take a hard line on development aid, the climate crisis and immigration due to the policies being promoted by one of its parties.
The Right Coalition Party, won 48 out of the 200 seats up for grabs in the elections, coming in before both the anti-immigration and anti-EU Finns Party and the Social Democrat party of former pro-EU Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
The two parties winning the most seats struck a deal to enter a coalition with minority-language Swedish People’s Party and the Christian Democrats.
Mr Orpo’s government’s hardline on the EU comes as the European Commission is set to ask on Tuesday, when it will present a review of the budget, its 27 member states to fill up its coffers.
Finland isn’t alone in resisting the idea of the expenditure ceiling being raised, with German Finance Minister Christian Lindner saying last week “this is not the time to ask members states for more funding”.
While providing more money to improve competitiveness and monitor migration may not be an idea supported by many, the spending to help Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion finds widespread agreement in the bloc.
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