The United Kingdom is better off in the European Union than outside it, estimates Timo Soini (PS), the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
“The British will manage [outside the European Union], but if I were to give advice I'd say they'll manage even better in [it],” Soini said in an interview on YLE TV1 on Wednesday, on the eve of an EU summit where the membership terms of the United Kingdom are to be re-negotiated.
Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, estimated in an interview with the BBC that the heads of state have no choice but to reach an agreement at the two-day summit in Brussels.
Soini predicted that the negotiations will strengthen the position of member states that are not part of the euro area. “If an agreement is struck, it will also affect Finland. And that's a good thing. If the British leave [the EU], the benefits that also Finland would be able to enjoy would not materialise,” he said.
The summit will set the stage for a national referendum on the EU membership of the United Kingdom to be held later this year. Soini considers it possible that the vote falls in favour of the so-called Brexit.
“It's possible. The polls are evenly balanced,” he said. “If an agreement is struck after a gruesome wrangle in the early hours of Friday, they'll have four or so months for campaigning. The campaigns will decide which way the vote goes.”
Finland should according to him seriously re-consider its membership if the United Kingdom decides to leave the European Union. “The world is in quite a difficult situation, judging by the what's going on in Syria, Ukraine and the economy. You'd have to think what's right and what's wrong in the long term,” said Soini.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi