The Finnish EU presidency kicked off in Ireland, briefing on Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 10th July
Speech by Ambassador Raili Lahnalampi
Briefing on Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union
European Movement Ireland
Ambassador Raili Lahnalampi, 10 July 2019
Thank you for this opportunity to present the Finnish EU Presidency priorities.
The Finnish EU Presidency means that an Artic country - of 5.5 million people - represents over 500 million people for the rest of this year. To succeed we will need the help of all the Member States. I would like to thank Ireland for her support to our Presidency already during the first EU meetings.
I would also like thank my Romanian colleague Manuela Breazu for her excellent performance during the Romanian Presidency and all the good advice she has so generously given to me.
The human capital in Europe and a well-functioning single market is key to EU’s success.
However, what really makes us the EU - are our common values. Finland wants to strengthen these values and the rule of law during our Presidency. We also want to make the EU more competitive and socially inclusive. Only this way can we achieve our third goal, which is to strengthen the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action.
But – perhaps the most vital thing that the people demand of our leaders is security: hence, we intend to promote the protection of our citizens comprehensively.
Finland will represent all 28 EU Member States and work together with others towards the common good.
Finland aims to be an active, open and honest pragmatic broker. Key words for Finland are: Solution-driven, concrete results, consistency, sustainability and a rules based system.
Our presidency slogan is:”Sustainable Europe – sustainable future”. But, unlike many slogans we in fact intend to put this one into action.
We will have an exciting time: a new European Parliament, a new Commission, rule of law and human rights and the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) to be discussed. And of course there is Brexit.
A few words about our priorities:
We need to strengthen our common values and the rule of law, if we wish the EU to preserve its founding principles.
We should not forget that the European success stories have always been anchored in democratic institutions, human rights and the rule of law. Our values have not been - and should never be for sale.
Europe is at a crossroads – and things are getting tough. We know that our unity makes us a stronger player and is key to our success. Only by acting together and defending our shared values can the EU tackle the major challenges facing us.
Finland wishes to make the EU more competitive and socially inclusive
Key elements to achieve this are: The single market. Ambitious, open and rules-based free trade. Wellbeing and skills as a foundation to inclusive and sustainable growth, and economic union.
Special focus should be on youth employment and on inclusion of young people. We cannot afford to lose a generation.
EU has a unique opportunity - but also a responsibility - to show leadership in climate action. Therefore, Finland wants to strengthen the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action.
This means committing to making the EU carbon neutral by 2050. Finland will facilitate the process in order to define the key elements of the EU’s long-term climate strategy in the European Council by the end of 2019.
Generating sustainable growth and boosting employment is possible with the help of bioeconomy and circular economy.
Our fourth priority is to protect our citizens comprehensively. To deliver on this is of utmost importance, if we wish to maintain the trust of our people in the European institutions.
EU needs to strengthen its security and defense cooperation to protect its citizens. Finland will underline a comprehensive approach to security. We will be working on countering hybrid and cyber threats. This is also an important topic here in Ireland given the numerous multinationals that have their headquarters here.
Finns are known to be quite straightforward people. We mean what we say. Therefore, since we have signed up for climate action in the Presidency programme, we aim to follow this also in our EU- Presidency arrangements.
We intend to arrange the Presidency with the smallest carbon footprint possible when arranging meetings in Helsinki.
Finland will offset the carbon emissions caused by air travel to Presidency meetings in Helsinki and Brussels (approx. 0,5 million EUR), instead of handing out traditional presidency gifts.
We will be funding projects in Honduras, Laos, Uganda and Vietnam to produce clean energy and reduce deforestation.
We will aim to reduce energy consumption: Serving tap water in meetings; Serving more vegetarian dishes; Cutting down on food waste.
The Finnish Embassy and Residence in Dublin have made their own list of concrete climate goals. We encourage others to join us. Small steps lead to bigger paths - but only if all join in.