Finnish EU Policy one year after “big bang” elections

Kirjoitettu 30.3.2012 ja luokiteltu Yleiset.

After last spring's parliamentary elections there was a lively discussion going on about its effects on Finnish politics and society. Back then it was a commonly assessed that the massive win of the EU-sceptic Finns Party could also damage our international reputation.

Moreover, it was thought that as a result of "big bang" elections, the Government would change its previously pro-European policy.

Today, after a year of these events, many of these fears have been proven to be misplaced. Despite of ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis, and two quite unpopular bail-out packages, there have been indications that EU-scepticism is to some extent decreasing in Finland. 

It seems that the political triumph of Timo Soini is over and his populist party has lost its momentum, even though we are still living on the edge of economic recession.
In addition to this, there is no clear indication that the Government has changed its EU -policy. Nor that our international reputation has somehow been damaged.

Yes, it might be true that our unorthodox actions in Greece’s second bail out package and in the case of ESM treaty have temporarily raised eyebrows here and there, but neither of them has caused permanent damage to our position within the EU. Even after playing a hard ball with these issues Finland is still considered to be a reliable member of EU –family.

On the other hand, it is also clear that we can not take our position in the EU for granted. As a small state our room for manoeuvre is limited. We have to be active in driving our national interests we must remember to be a good and supportive team player.

In fact, this is the message of Brussels to Finland too. There are many key EU-level decision makers that have high hopes for us. They would like to see Finland being more active in promoting European values and pushing forward in some areas that would benefit whole EU.

An Often-used example that Finland has recently gained credits is our work to promote Digital Single Market. For an economic area struggling to create new growth this joint initiative has been applauded by many of European top politicians, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  Moreover, similarly decisive action from us would be appreciated in the fields of nature protection, energy efficiency and Green-Tech. 

Experience after last year’s elections has shown the strength of Finland's pro-European policy. Despite of difficulties in European economic situation, and the presence of truly populist political option, we have remained faithful to our pro-European standing.

Even in difficult times like these, we want to stay among the other European nations and share our future with them. We have realised that by building our common Europe together we can best secure our own national interests. 

(Julkaistu Helsinki Timesissa 23.3.2012)