Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finns Party, says the opposition party is prepared to submit an interpellation unless the government withdraws from the 750-billion-euro recovery plan of the EU. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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THE FINNISH PARLIAMENT on Thursday began its spring term with a fiery debate over the 750-billion-euro recovery instrument proposed by the European Union.

The Finns Party highlighted that Finland is expected to receive a smaller share of the stimulus funding than originally estimated – 2.7 billion instead of the 3.2 billion euros estimated last summer by the European Commission.

“Finland’s so-called receipts are contracting by half a billion euros,” stated Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the right-wing opposition party. “The funds have already been promised for all sorts of culverts. My question is, ‘is the government committed to this package even though it’s becoming more and more expensive for Finland?’ If that’s the case, I’ll inform you that the Finns Party is ready to submit an interpellation on the issue.”

Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP), the Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering, responded to the opposition leader by reminding that the country’s position on the recovery plan will ultimately be decided by the Parliament.

“It’s the government’s thinking that this is in line with the interests of Finland,” she added.

Tuppurainen reminded that, along with the recovery plan, the 27-country bloc decided on its multi-annual financial framework, which will deliver funding to regions, agriculture and universities in Finland. Member states, she added, will also pay the bill for the stimulus effort over several years, with the final repayments due in 2058.

The Ministry of Finance in January announced Finland is set to receive roughly 500 million euros less from the recovery mechanism than initially estimated, although its contribution is to remain at approximately 6.6 billion euros. The drop in receipts is attributable to the fact that the shares granted to member states are determined based on the impact the pandemic has had on their respective economies.

“The final amount will not be known until the summer of 2022, as it is affected by economic development last year and this year,” reminded Minister of Finance Matti Vanhanen (Centre). “What is important is that we can allocate the funding such that it benefits the entire Finland.”

Minister of Culture and Education Annika Saarikko (Centre) said last month she is baffled at the rationale for slashing the share of Finland.

“It does go against my sense of justice that if you’ve handled the coronavirus epidemic well – as Finland has done – you’re rewarded with less rather than more financial support from the common funds. That’s unfair,” she stated on 21 January.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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