Antti Rinne on Brexit: ‘maybe all countries support an extension’

Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says if Britain is still in the EU after 1st November then she will ask the government to nominate a commissioner.

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Prime Minister Antti Rinne (L) welcomes European Commission President-elect Ursula van der Leyen (R) to Kesäranta, 24th October 2019 / Credit: Lauri Heikkinen, VNK

Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) says certainly a majority of EU countries and “maybe all” support the idea of giving Britain another extension to its Brexit date.

Rinne made the comments at a press conference in Helsinki on Thursday lunchtime with the incoming President of the European Commission, German politician Ursula von der Leyen.

The pair were speaking ahead of talks at the PM’s official residence Kesäranta.

“It is important to [avoid] a situation where a hard Brexit is coming, so that we don’t have it” says Rinne.

“We need to work together to provide an extension because it has been asked from the UK side. We need to evaluate the situation, what it means for an extension, and if it avoids a hard Brexit it is already for me” says the Prime Minister.

Rinne says he isn’t sure there’s a need for another special EU summit in Brussels to decide all this, because he thinks it can be a written process, although he says he is ready to go to Brussels if needed.

Meanwhile von der Leyen says if the UK is still in the EU on 1st November, she will ask the British government to nominate a commissioner.

“We have to move forward step by step” says the President-elect.

“There might be an extension and the UK is still in the European Union, then of course I would ask the UK to send a commissioner” to Brussels, she adds.

Also on the agenda for talks between Rinne and von der Leyen are the EU’s multi-annual financial framework – the budget – plus spending and policy priorities for von der Leyen’s upcoming five year term.

In opening remarks, von der Leyen praised Finland’s spending on research and innovation, which she said was proportionally the highest of any EU member state, and noted that Finland was “pioneering the greening of the economy” and doing it in a way that was socially responsible.

Von der Leyen is due to take up her post as Commission President on 1st November.

European Commission President-elect Ursula van der Leyen (L) at a press conference with Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne (R) in Helsinki, 24th October 2019 / Credit: Lauri Heikkinen, VNK