Thursday, October 5, 2023

Outspoken criticism of a European researcher: too much attention is paid to joint debt in Finland


According to Academy researcher Timo Meittinen, not enough attention is paid to the rules of the game for internal competition in the federation and the roots of refugee status. The new prime minister may face both right after the midsummer sauna.

In Finland, public discussion about the near future of the European Union has focused heavily on collective debt, says Academy researcher Timo Miitinen from the University of Helsinki. Miettinen considers the deterioration of the EU’s competitive environment a more central concern, especially if larger countries are allowed to start supporting their companies significantly.

– I hope that, in addition to the joint debt, the discussion will take into account what I think is a more important development, where state aid rules are being loosened in a way that is certainly against Finland’s Not in the interest, Miettinen tells STT.

During the spring parliamentary elections, the largest parties opposed the idea of ​​a new joint debt. The matter has also been raised in government talks, where Perusuomalaiset has highlighted its opposition to the new collective loan as a border issue.

Government leader Petteri Orpo (CEO) has assured that Finland does not support a repetition of arrangements such as the Corona Pandemic Recovery Package.

– We have very clear and strong records according to the will of the parliament, Orpo said on Tuesday.

The largest parties opposed the idea of ​​a new joint debt during the parliamentary elections.  According to cabinet member Peteri Orpo, the will of parliament is clear.

The largest parties opposed the idea of ​​a new joint debt during the parliamentary elections. According to cabinet member Peteri Orpo, the will of parliament is clear. Photo: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva


The contours of the future of the European Union will soon appear on the agenda of the new government. The European Union traditionally holds its next summit at the end of June.

Orpo has repeatedly stated that he aims to form a government by midsummer at the latest. If the appointment were to be made by the end of this deadline, the new prime minister would be able to attend the summit for almost the first time. It will be held on 29th and 30th. june.

For Finland, the preparation for the summit is a matter of paramount civil service. Finland’s representative at the summit, however, is the Prime Minister. If Orpo’s board had not been appointed before the summit, Finland would still have been represented by Sanna Marin (SD).

– The Prime Minister seeks his mandate from the larger committee of the Parliament. Traditionally, the prime minister in the ministry of supply has had less room to manoeuvre, Miettinen estimates.

EU programs tightened the Finnish government’s negotiations even four years ago. At the same time as Finland was preparing to take over the presidency of the European Union, Anti Rinne (SD) assembled its own government.

It is difficult to respond to the support of large countries

Miettinen anticipates that the key questions at the June summit include how to respond to the global competitive situation posed by the United States and China.

It also deals with the issue of joint debt, but Meittinen does not believe that so-called sovereign funds are the only answer to the current EU competition situation. In recent statements by French President Emmanuel Macron, the facilitation of state subsidies and a more active industrial policy of the member states have played a more central role.

Miettinen considers the loosening of existing regulations against Finland’s interest.

– We cannot respond to the active support and industrial policy of the largest countries. This is the major risk facing Finland in this situation, Miettinen says.

Academy researchers hope that Finland will be able to bring its own development proposals to the table with the opposition.

– The EU budget should be the primary means of making common European investments. Finland could particularly emphasize investments in the beginning of the innovation chain, research and product development.

Roots of refugeeism with little attention

In addition, Miettinen expects questions related to migration and supporting Ukraine from the summit. The possibility of new member states or of Ursula von der Leyen continuing to head the Commission could also come up.

The war in Ukraine is widely discussed in Finland, but according to Meittinen, the same cannot be said about the refugee debate. According to him, the new government is not particularly ready for a debate on this topic.

– The discussion really revolves around work-related immigration. Reforms related to EU asylum policy have not come up for discussion, says Miettinen.

However, the problem is union-wide. According to Miettinen, in European political debate more attention is paid to the consequences than to the causes. For him, EU refugee policy is more about managing the consequences rather than trying to influence the root causes of refugees.

better living conditions to prevent quitting

According to Miettinen, the most effective solution would be for the EU to offer better living conditions, investment opportunities and employment in the refugees’ departure areas.

– A coherent strategy for Africa is not only an economic opportunity for Europe but, above all, a way to deal with these problems that could lead to mass migration, says Miettinen.

At the same time, the world has seen how, for example, China is trying to increase its influence in Africa by financing investments in the region. On the other hand, Russia’s activities on the continent have been discussed, for example through the Wagner mercenary group.

– Other actors do not leave this playing field empty, but work very actively in these areas, but not necessarily in the interest of the EU.

In Finland, the fate of development cooperation has been discussed in government negotiations. Basic Fins is insisting on maximum reduction in its funding, RKP will continue to increase it. Anders Adlercreutz, chairman of the RKP’s parliamentary group, has said that development aid is also a security policy issue.

– If EU countries leave, for example, African countries and EU countries’ presence is reduced, it will not be replaced by the United States, but by Russia and China, Adlercreutz said on Tuesday.

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