Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) has just started his term of office, while EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is just coming to the end of his tenure.
Politically the two men come from different camps, but in Helsinki on Friday it was all smiles, hugs and platitudes as Juncker brought EU Commissioners to the capital at the start of Finland’s six-month Presidency of the European Council.
Juncker and Rinne held a one-on-one meeting where they discussed the Finnish Presidency including action to combat the climate emergency, EU finances, rule of law, Arctic issues and security, according to information from the PM’s office.
Luxembourg politician Juncker’s term in office ends in November. His replacement, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyn has already been nominated at a closed-door meeting of 28 EU leaders earlier this week.
Juncker praises Finland’s leadership and stability
Speaking at a joint press conference with Rinne, Juncker heaped praise on Finland.
“It is true that Finland often has the coldest climate in Europe, but it always has the warmest hospitality” said Juncker, adding that he had visited Finland during its first EU Presidency back in 1999. At that time Juncker attended meetings in Tampere and Turku.
“It’s good to have the Finnish Presidency now because the European Union dramatically needs leadership and stability which are qualities of my Finnish friends […] we will benefit in abundance from these Finnish qualities” he told reporters
“I think we have good reasons to be optimistic when we are starting the Finnish Presidency, because Finland has proven itself a leader in our union, behaving like a founding member whereas founding members are not always behaving like founding members because Finland has always chosen the European path”.
Juncker also highlighted the Finnish concept of “talkoot” where friends and neighbours work together towards a common goal.
“This is exactly what we need in the months and weeks ahead” he said.