Democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights; these are the common fundamental values of the European Union. In order to be able to speak credibly for these values in the future, the Union must also commit to defend and uphold them as part of its own policies. Promoting these values will strengthen the unity, acceptability and credibility of the Union and the trust between Member States.
In recent years, some EU Member States have acted in a manner that has violated the rule of law. Condoning these actions erodes the foundations of the Union. Finland has strongly said no to neglecting the shared values and promoted the rule of law both during its EU presidency in 2019 and during the negotiations on the EU stimulus package. It is also the responsibility of the Member States to ensure that fundamental values are not compromised since, in the end, their realisation is in the interests of all citizens.
The Finnish government has had a tradition on giving a report of its own EU policy to the national parliament. The report defines the Government's views on key issues related to the European Union and, thus, creates a clear picture of what kind of union Finland wants to be building. However, such a document was not prepared during Juha Sipilä's government term. Prime Minister Marin's Government submitted its report to Parliament a few weeks ago.
The goal of the current Government's EU policy is a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable European Union. The EU must be a strong global player and security community. It must achieve its climate neutrality goals by 2050 and promote the sustainable use of natural resources, a fair transition to sustainability, stimulating regional and structural policies, as well as strengthen the social dimension, open and responsible trade policies and the best education in the world.
More emphasis on visioning the future
Ten years have passed since the Greek debt crisis. Since then, there has been a public mud wrestling about the benefits of the EU and the level of payments. The Social Democratic Party regards the EU membership as a very important and profitable asset for Finland in many dimensions. To mention just one, through the EU's internal market, we are involved in a market of 450 million consumers instead of that of 5.5 million Finns. This benefits both businesses and citizens.
Discussing whether to be inside or outside the EU crowds out visioning the future. There is no point to focus too much on this. The future of the EU has enormous potential. It is good for the EU to increase co-operation in the areas which bring added value to the member states and thus to Finland. If added value is not achieved, matters have to be resolved in national decision-making, in accordance with the EU's subsidiarity principle. Such areas will continue to be trade policy, halting global warming, the rules of the game in the internal market and the single monetary policy and its rules.
As for the EU's future foreign policy, the Union should move to qualified majority voting. This would be a major change in providing the EU with a stronger voice at international negotiating tables. It would strengthen the credibility of EU action, both in our neighborhood and beyond.
The future of the EU will also be discussed on 9 May (if coronavirus disease situation permits) on the Conference on the Future of Europe. The aim is to engage and give citizens the opportunity to express their views on the future of the EU. The themes to be discussed include health, climate change, the economy, social justice and European rights and values. It is important that citizens are involved in EU decision-making.
Eveliina Heinäluoma is a Finnish politician currently serving in the Parliament of Finland for the Social Democratic Party of Finland at the Helsinki constituency
This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of The Finnish Parliament contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times.
The articles will be published in order of arrival.