Foreign Service reform to move on to implementation
The implementation of the reform will start with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ management group, regional departments, EU coordination and strategy unit. The goal is a more efficient Foreign Service.
A reform of the Foreign Service is needed because of the change in Finland’s foreign and security policy environment. Geopolitical challenges and the dramatic worsening of the international operating environment require Finland to exert strong foreign policy influence. At the same time, NATO membership opens up an opportunity for closer relations with partner countries.
The reform is based on the Programme of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s Government, and it was launched in autumn 2023. Minister for Foreign Affairs Elina Valtonen appointed an internal working group at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to prepare recommendations. The working group submitted its final report to Minister Valtonen on 1 December 2023. On 26 January 2024, the Foreign Ministry’s management group decided to proceed with the implementation of the Foreign Service reform.
The reform will see the Ministry for Foreign Affairs move to one minister-led management group. There will be three regional departments: Euro-Atlantic Department, Department for Asia and Oceania, and Department for Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. The new structure of the regional departments better reflects the current situation, for example by bringing all NATO member states and countries close to the EU under the same department. The change takes into account Ukraine’s stronger movement towards the EU. Russia will come under the Department for Asia and Oceania. We will concentrate resources and investments on countries that are strategically important to Finland.
The Foreign Ministry’s EU coordination will be brought under the leadership of the Permanent Secretary. The new strategy unit will focus on foresight, analysis and support for the management. At this stage, no changes are proposed to Finland’s network of diplomatic and consular missions abroad.
In parallel to the Foreign Service reform, preparations are underway for strengthening the Foreign Ministry’s role in the public activities to promote exports, as set out in the Government Programme. Supporting Finnish companies in the growth markets is particularly important. Decisions have yet to be made on reforming export promotion, but if implemented, the reform would have an effect on the Foreign Ministry’s activities and the required changes would be taken account of in the later stages of the Foreign Service reform.
“The organisational restructuring of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs reflects the current geopolitical reality and groups together foreign policy themes. We will also enhance our practices and strengthen our culture of cooperation,” says Permanent State Secretary Jukka Salovaara.
Good interaction within the Cooperation Board and with the entire staff is essential when preparing for the implementation. The reform is about reorganising resources in a way that allows for flexibility in changing world situations. Staff will not be made redundant.
- Jukka Salovaara, Permanent State Secretary, tel. +358 295 350 431