Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, arrived to hold a press conference at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on Thursday, 25 May 2023. Orpo admitted that immigration has proven a difficult issue in the coalition formation talks but voiced his confidence in the ability of the negotiators to find a satisfactory compromise. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)


PETTERI ORPO, the chairperson of the National Coalition, revealed yesterday evening that the working group on immigration has requested and been granted the opportunity to continue its discussions on Friday.

The working groups on both climate and immigration were yesterday expected to report on their progress to the chairpersons of the four parties engaged in the coalition formation talks, the National Coalition, Finns Party, Swedish People’s Party and Christian Democrats.

Today, the parties were expected to decide whether it is possible to continue the coalition formation talks next week.

Orpo has stated that he has defined the timetable for the discussions.

Riikka Purra, the chairperson of the Finns Party, has warned that the populist right-wing party will walk away from the talks if agreements on climate and immigration cannot be found by the end of the week. The Finns Party holds its party conference on Saturday, where Purra will be under pressure to deliver something to the party faithful – be it concrete wins on important issues or tales of hard-fought negotiations.

“Let’s just say that we’ve put our demands onto the table. I won’t go into the details,” she was quoted saying yesterday morning by Helsingin Sanomat.

It was at the insistence of the party that the other working groups suspended their work at the start of this week until substantial progress has been made in the climate and immigration tables.

Orpo admitted yesterday evening that significant differences persist between the parties but added that it would have made no sense to grant the immigration group more time unless the parties believed in their ability to find a compromise.

“It’s difficult because there are major differences between the parties, but at the same time the same people are telling me that it’s possible to find solutions,” he said to reporters at the House of the Estates in Helsinki.

The differences are particularly pronounced between the Finns Party and Swedish People’s Party. The former has called for restrictions on both humanitarian and work-based immigration, whereas the latter has viewed that both should be increased, partly to alleviate the labour shortages in Finland.

“Humanitarian immigration will definitely be tightened, but we should find rational ways to promote work-based immigration because it’s needed,” outlined Orpo.

The working group on climate is closer to wrapping up its work, according to him. The National Coalition, he said, remains of the opinion that climate emissions should be reduced with measures that neither increase the day-to-day costs of ordinary people, nor undermine the competitiveness of industries.

The Finns Party has stated that the distribution obligation for renewable fuels should be lowered if not altogether scrapped in order to drive down diesel and petrol prices.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications on Thursday voiced its opposition to the idea in a report presented to the coalition formation negotiators, arguing that upholding the obligation is key for cutting transport emissions.

“In Finland, the climate measure that has had the biggest impact on reducing transport emissions is the distribution obligation for renewable fuels. As the majority of road vehicles remain powered by combustion engines, it is of critical importance that the obligation is at a high enough level also in future,” the document reads according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The obligation defines the minimum share of renewable fuels transport fuel suppliers must distribute on an annual basis.

The outgoing government has lowered the obligation temporarily by 7.5 percentage points to 13.5 per cent to soften the spike in fuel prices caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The original plan is to raise it to 28 per cent in 2024.

The overall climate impact of the obligation depends on the type of renewable fuels distributed by suppliers, reminded Helsingin Sanomat. Environmental advocacies and researchers have both questioned the use of palm fatty acid distillate, for example, as a raw material for biofuels, arguing that it can cause more emissions than regular diesel when taking into account the indirect emissions arising from rain forest loss.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT