Finland’s upcoming EU presidency takes place under interesting circumstances. Finland will hold the reins from July to December 2019, and the timing could not be more challenging.
One of the major changes in 2019 is Brexit. The UK is due to leave the EU in March, shaping the EU in ways that are hard to predict. The first steps towards the new post-Brexit EU will be taken in the European Elections held in May. After the elections, the European Parliament will organise itself and the new European Commission will be appointed.
With a new Commission term beginning, now is the time for Finland to be active in integrating its objectives as part of the EU’s priorities for the next five-year term. Finland emphasises sustainable growth, a well-functioning single market, and the development of the EU as a security community – objectives that the financial market sector also promotes.
Holding the presidency is a selfless responsibility: it does not involve acting in our own interest or driving our own narrow agendas. Instead, it involves finding a common interest in many difficult matters. In practice, this means making compromises. Often the most challenging compromises are the trilogue negotiations between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, which will inevitably remain short during Finland’s presidency: in practice, the negotiations can probably only be held in October and November, because the Parliament must organise before the negotiations.
Sustainable growth, a well-functioning single market, and the development of the EU as a security community are objectives that the financial market sector also promotes.
So what will Finland and Finland’s presidency be remembered for?
One goal could be effective change management. Finland’s presidency should strengthen member states’ commitment to the shared EU agenda. New Parliament and Commission terms could offer member states a chance to focus on refining common views in the Council. Finland’s actions should also inspire faith that the EU, as an alliance of Western democracies, is able to agree on matters and find common ground despite differences of opinion. This is what we are expected of and this is what we will do.
This column is part of a Finnish-language publication that presents 16 questions and answers for the upcoming election seasons in Finland and EU.