Finland In France: Soini Says ‘Non’ To Deeper EU Integration

Bilateral talks showed where the two countries disagrees - on more European integration.

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French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) hosts Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini (R) in Paris / Credit: @ulkoministerio Twitter
Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini (Blue) says ‘non’ to the idea of a common  EU Finance Minister or a Eurozone-wide budget.

After meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris today, the Frenchman said that Soini was also against the idea of a new European Monetary Fund.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who held talks with Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) at the end of September, has recently talked up the idea of a closer economic union for Eurozone countries.

Macron would also like to see a joint EU military force and common defence budget – but Soini says Finland would need more information about what those proposals mean in practice.

“These kind of high flying ideas are necessary in the sense that they prompt discussions. This doesn’t mean that we agree on everything, or that nothing will ever change” says Soini.

Finance Reform Proposals  

The Finnish government will meet this autumn to consider three economic reform proposals: a common EU finance minister; a common Eurozone budget; and a permanent financial crisis fund under the auspices of a European Monetary Fund.

Soini says there is a risk that such reforms would increase joint financial responsibility between EU member states, and that is something the Finnish government cannot accept.

“Europe’s problem is not the lack of any minister or the need for new structures, we need innovation, education, investment and growth” says Soini.

Soini Rejects Criticism

The Confederation of Finnish Industries EK has repeatedly criticized the government for weak EU policies. Senior EK figures have called on Finland to act more proactively, and promptly with regards to the European Union.

The concern in Finland is that it will be left behind, if there is a two-speed integration process within the European Union countries – with some opting for more integration, and others not.

But Timo Soini shot down EK’s criticism, saying that the Finnish government has been active in European capitals.

“I have today met the French Foreign Minister, and on Sunday, I met my British colleague” says Soini.

“The Prime Minister has visited France and we participate constantly in meetings, and take the initiative” he adds.