In the midst of frantic negotiations in Brussels over the allocation of the top EU jobs, you would be forgiven for not noticing that Finland this week took over the rotating EU Presidency. The Finnish Presidency, its third since 1999, follows on from a successful Romanian mandate in which ninety pieces of legislation were agreed in the last one hundred days before the European elections in May.
While the Romanian Presidency saw progress on the banking union, the enhancement of the Digital Europe as well as key issues such as border protection, Finland will use its third EU Presidency to drive forward a predominantly green agenda with its slogan “Sustainable Europe – Sustainable Future.” The key priorities in the area of climate change include;
- To continue the work on defining the key elements for the EU’s long-term climate strategy for 2050 in the European Council by the end of 2019 at the latest
- encourage implementation of the energy union and promote emissions reductions
- drive forward the implementation of the Commission’s updated bioeconomy strategy
- support a Common Agricultural Policy that can better respond to climate change
- ensure that the programmes of the multiannual financial framework (2021–2027) help achieve climate objectives.
Finland will be hosting six informal meetings of ministers in Helsinki over its six month Presidency which will also see a focus on policy areas including strengthening the rule of law, increasing competitiveness and social inclusion, as well as improving security and defence coordination.
However, the first task for new Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne will be to build relationships and consensus with the incoming heads of the European Commission, European Council, European Parliament and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security. The Finnish Presidency will also need to wrestle with Brexit as the clock ticks to the next deadline on October 31st.