|Sauli Niinistö (National Coalition Party, since 2012)
Juha Sipilä (Centre party, since April 2015)
|Size||4338,424 km2 (130,596 sq mi)|
|MEPs||13 (Joined the EU in 1995)|
|Next presidential election
Next legislative election
|Presidency of the Council||July – December 2019|
|Last meeting with Theresa May||31 August 2016, by phone.|
|Brexit priorities||Finland and the UK have been traditional partners in the EU, both on a political and economic level. They often saw eye to eye in EU decision-making and the two countries are important trading partners as well.
Not only does Finland fear a short term economic set back due to Brexit, but the Government also fears that in the long term the EU-27 will fail to find common ground on the challenges ahead. This would further destabilise the euro and therefore pose a risk to the Finnish economy. The Government wants security to be discussed in the Brexit negotiations as it supports a common defence policy in the EU and the UK is the biggest spending military force.
Finland has emphasised that the UK cannot have the same benefits of EU membership when it leaves the bloc. Throughout the negotiations, the overall priority will be to find unity among the remaining 27 Member States.
|What Mr Sipilä said on Brexit||24 June 2016
“Every country should learn the lessons of this. Criticism has to be taken seriously in every decision. We should especially find better ways to decide things together.” “To earn the trust of citizens the EU has to focus on essential questions and to be able to carry out reforms.”16 October 2016“I think the security aspect could be another element in the (Brexit) agreement. For example, if the (EU’s) solidarity clause would cover Britain, that would of course have value in these discussions,” “Then, it would differ from the treaties with Norway and Switzerland.”29 March 2017“Finland will take a constructive approach to the negotiations and hopes the same of the U.K.” “We wish to continue working in close partnership with the U.K. However, all rights and obligations must be kept in balance throughout the negotiations with the U.K.”
|Finland’s priorities||Prime Minister Juha Sipilä had planned to ask President Sauli Niinisto to dissolve the Government as the Centre and National Coalition parties were unable to find common ground with the Finns Party, which elected hardline Euroskeptic MEP Jussi Halla-aho as its new leader. The Government collapse however was avoided when on 13 June, 20 of the Finns Party’s 37 members of parliament announced they would break away from the party to form a new more moderate party, the New Alternative, which will from now on govern with the Centre Party and Conservatives.
The Government’s main objective is to raise the employment rate to 72% by introducing a number of measures promoting employment, including a reform on income tax.
In terms of security, Finland stands between increasingly active Russia and NATO, of which it is not a member. The Government’s aim is to find a well-balanced position between the two.
Finland has also seen euroscepticism rise, however the Brexit vote seems to have tempered that now slightly. A petition for a “fixit” got 34,000 signatures in December 2016. The required number was 50,000 for it to be discussed in Parliament.
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