The crisis which started over a year ago helped us to learn a lot about ourselves but also about our friends and allies. The pandemic took us all by surprise and after the grim photos from northern Italy we all were shocked.
Many asked why EU couldn’t be the strong union bringing us all together to fight against the common enemy? Especially during the first weeks, you couldn’t avoid the feeling that it was every country for itself. I guess it’s not that weird, since keeping your citizens safe is one of the key functions of any government.
As a country we learned three greater entities. First our nation can function quite well in such conditions due to our limited size and sparsely populated country. The political factions also became more united in the face of the crisis.
Secondly our healthcare system can manage such crisis relatively fast and efficiently. Although we should pay more attention to the maintenance and acquisition of health care equipment.
Thirdly, a larger proportion of Finnish people understood the importance of domestic food and energy production, as well as the importance of emergency stocks.
As a result of all this, we have learned that even though everything went quite well so far, things could have gone even better. Here in the cold North, adequate food, electricity and heat are basic necessities of which we have to take responsibility for. After all, in a way, Finland is an island.
We also discuss the effects in more detail in Government Report on Finnish Foreign and Security Policy 2020.
Finland's largest resource is the forest, we are the most forest-dominated country in Europe. I feel this has not been properly taken into account in international decisions in the past. Finland also takes good care of its forests. It uses less than it grows every year.
On a bigger scale the European Union must be able to think equally between the core countries and those of us on the edges of the EU. In the end the cornerstone of unity and trust is always the experience of fairness and support for facing challenges together.
We need a viable European Union to negotiate new trade agreements. It seems that in the United States, more favourable winds are blowing for free trade, which I hope will help advance the common rules of the game for exports, not only between the EU and the US, but also more broadly through the WTO.
Finland’s long-term objective is to be a carbon-neutral society. On the other hand, the policies should be flexible to allow for agile action in changing conditions and take local factors better into account. Finland has a clean environment and our use of natural resources is sustainable, so we have a strong sense that we are doing our part in the bigger picture.
Still we strive for reducing the use of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gas emissions caused by them but also increasing the share of renewable energy. It is important to keep in mind the jobs and especially small companies in energy resource business and make sure that the change is also socially sustainable.
Mikko Tapio Savola is a Finnish politician currently serving in the Parliament of Finland for the Centre Party at the Vaasa 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.