Cautious government response, critical opposition response to EU recovery plan

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File picture of Europe Minister Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP), 1st July 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

The Government has given a guarded response to the new EU coronavirus economic recovery plan, while Finland’s main opposition parties have been more critical.

On Wednesday the European Commission outlined it’s €750 billion fund to help Member States recover from the coronavirus economic crisis. The majority of the funds come as grants while €250 billion would be given as loans.

Finland, along with countries like Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Austria, have traditionally been against the idea of taking on collective debt to give out cash to poorer countries, especially those which had debt problems and weak economies even before the coronavirus crisis.

Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP) signaled that the amount of grant money “exceeded our expectations” but that she’s waiting for more details on how the funds will be allocated, and how loan repayments will be made in the future.

However, writing on Twitter Tuppurainen welcomed the fund’s focus on green economy projects, digitisation and research, development and innovation but also signaled that Finland wants strong conditionality attached to funding.

“[The] Commission’s strong emphasis on the Rule of Law is also crucial. respect for the rule of law and fundamental values must form the foundation of the recovery” the Oulu MP writes – a clear message that money shouldn’t be given to countries like Hungary or Poland if they’re in violation of the EU’s rules.

File picture of Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green), Helsinki, 5th November 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Meanwhile Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) writing in her capacity as party chief says that now is the time to revitalise European economies with a focus “to built carbon-neutral European welfare states that invest more in sustainable mobility, housing, food production and the circular economy.”

She said the Greens have a “positive attitude” to the Commission’s coronavirus recovery plan because it is “large enough in scale and structure to help EU countries get back on their feet and reform their economies.”

When it comes to paying for the €750 billion plan, Ohisalo suggests a tax on plastic, and enforcing the tax liabilities of multinational companies.

National Coalition Party leader Petter Orpo talks to journalists, 8th May 2019 / Credit: Laura Kotila, VNK

Opposition critical of any debt burden for Finland

Finland’s largest opposition parties have been vocal in their criticism of the concept that Finland might take on a larger debt burden to fund the recovery package.

“The Commission is pushing EU countris into joint debt so that a resignation like the British Brexit is no longer possible for anyone” writes Finns Party MP Ville Tavio in a blog post.

“When it comes to a federation, the EU does not care about the rules, not even its own rules. It is forbidden in the European Union for Member States to be jointly liable for each other’s debts. This ban is being circumvented and violated, because complying with the rules would have long ago led to the abolition of the euro” he writes.

The leader of the National Coalition Party Petteri Orpo says that EU recovery funding “must be conditional and mainly based on loans.”

Orpo called on the government to “influence the outcome of the negotiations” on how the funding package will be allocated and paid for.