PM: Finland “cannot accept” EU’s coronavirus recovery budget

Finland wants to see more money given in the form of loans rather than grants - to ensure Finland's own debt burden is not increased.

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President of the European Council Charles Michel holds video meeting with EU27 leaders, Brussels, 19th June 2020 / Credit: Commission

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) says Finland “cannot accept” the European Commission’s budget proposals for a recovery package to boost the 27-nation block’s economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.

“Finland takes a constructive approach to the debate on the recovery instrument, as Europe’s rapid recovery from the crisis is also in Finland’s interest” says Marin.

“However we cannot accept the Commission’s proposal as it stands, and changes are needed in many respects” she adds.

The Prime Minister made her comments after a Friday video conference with other EU leaders about the EU’s plans to set a €750 billion budget to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Finland wants to see the size of the overall budget reduced and more money given in the form of loans (which of course have to be paid back by EU Member States) rather than grants.

Other countries including Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Netherlands have also been critical of the size of the budget, which has €500 billion earmarked as grants, and €250 billion in the form of loans.

The concern of Finland, and other countries, is that their own debt liabilities will increase to support the economies of countries in other parts of Europe, like Italy and Greece, whose economies were already weak before the coronavirus crisis.

European Council President Charles Michel from Luxembourg says he needs to start another round of talks on the budget plans with EU leaders before their next planned meeting.

“Now we will shift to another phase, we will negotiate. And I welcome the readiness to engage. I’m totally committed to start immediately real negotiations with the member states” he told reporters at a press conference on Friday evening.

After months of video conference meetings, EU leaders are supposed to have a physical summit in Brussels in the middle of July and Michel says he will have some “concrete proposals” on the table at that time.