Prime Minister unveils Finland’s EU Presidency agenda to Parliament

Freedom of movement, the single market, worker's rights, Brexit and the environment are on Finland's list for the next six months.

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Prime Minister Antti Rinne sets out Finland's EU Presidency priorities to parliament, 26th June 2019 / Credit: Laura Kotila, VNK

Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) has put action to combat climate change at the heart of Finland’s EU Presidency, as he unveiled the government’s programme for the next six months.

“Measures to fight climate change must be carried out in a socially equitable way. These measures will have a tangible impact on all sectors of society” Rinne told parliament in a speech on Wednesday afternoon, adding that he wanted all the EU countries to agree a 2050 deadline to become carbon neutral.

Finland takes over the rotating EU Presidence on 1st July, with officials and politicians keen to talk up the impact the country can make. In reality, much of the focus of the EU28 will be firmly on Brussels, not Helsinki, and Britain’s exit from the European Union. An October 31st Brexit date looms right in the middle of Finland’s Presidency term.

Rinne said the EU’s unity was being “tested” by Brexit, but that the process showed it was better to “seek solutions to complex questions together with our partners than to work on our own”.

“This is yet another reminder that there are no simple answers to complex questions, even if someone might irresponsibly claim this to be so” he told MPs.

Other EU Presidency priorities 

Apart from climate change and sustainability, Rinne says that Finland wants to strengthen the EU’s social dimensions and investments in education, training and skills.

The Prime Minister told parlament that the single market should “treat all workers fairly” and that the core principal of the single market is free movement of people, goods and services.

“Europeans must be free to move to another EU country to work” he said.