PM in Brussels: “The new generation are expecting us to act”

Sanna Marin is attending her first European Council meeting as prime minister, where efforts to tackle climate change are at the top of the agenda for EU leaders.

Screen grab of Finnish PM Sanna Marin (SDP) in Brussels, 12th December 2019 / Credit: EBU

Finland’s new prime minister is attending her first European Council meeting since being sworn in on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters on arrival in Brussels, Sanna Marin (SDP) said she was looking forward to the “interesting discussions” with other EU leaders ahead on Thursday and that they had “big issues” to decide when it came to setting ambitious climate goals.

“The new generation are expecting us to act, and we have to fulfill the expectations of the people” the PM told reporters.

“I’m of course worried about this climate issue, we have to do more, we have to do it faster, it’s about the future of our children, so I’m very looking forward to find a common goal today” she added.

World’s youngest sitting prime minister

The PM was asked about how her age – she’s the world’s youngest sitting prime minister –  and a female-lead government might play a different role in tackling issues like climate change.

The Tampere MP said she would be continuing the same government programme that was previously set, ie: at a time when there were more male leaders in the Finnish government.

“In Finland we had a political crisis but we tend to keep it short. So just in one week we had a new government. We have five women in charge and as prime minister of course I’m leading the government policies that we make, but we have the same programme as we did last summer” she explained.

“There is no big change in the line of the governmental programme but i think we will have many opportunities to discuss with each other, and we have to work together from now on to make the changes we promised people in the elections” the PM said.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (L) meets EU Council President Charles Michel (R) in Brussels, 12th December 2019 / Credit: European Council

Two days of European Council meetings 

At the two-day Brussels summit Marin will have the opportunity to meet other social democrat leaders from around Europe, as well as her Nordic and Baltic counterparts.

She already had a bilateral meeting with the new European Council President Charles Michel, as Finland has a few more weeks to go holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of Europe.

However at the top of the agenda is a new push to get EU countries to all commit to being carbon neutral by 2060.

In recent months this effort was blocked by some eastern European countries, including Estonia, who wanted more financial compensation to offset job losses in industries that produce too much carbon.

A new “EU Green Deal” would add billions of euros to the 28-nation block’s budget to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero.