Finland’s Presidency of the Council accompanied the European Union on the path towards a new decade and a socially fair and environmentally sustainable future.
Finland has advocated greater transparency throughout its EU membership. We have been pursuing these efforts during our six-month Presidency of the Council of the EU from July to December 2019. This endeavour is closely linked to our national traditions of transparent public administration and the related positive experiences.
Henriikka Leppo and Kaisa Männistö: What next for the rule of law in the EU? Parting thoughts from the Finnish Presidency
In its Presidency Programme, Finland promised to affirm common values and the rule of law as cornerstones of the Union. During our six months in charge, we did our best to honour this commitment.
Tapani Piha, Sari Palojoki, Tuula Helander and Pasi Mustonen: Technology can build wellbeing and sustainable growth
Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union wanted to generate dialogue on the interaction of people’s wellbeing and economic growth. The Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on the economy of wellbeing at the second Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) under Finland’s Presidency on 24 October 2019.
One of the main objectives of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union has been to improve the EU’s capabilities to counter hybrid threats and enhance resilience to ever-evolving security threats.
The UN Global Humanitarian Overview 2020 makes grim reading: Around 168 million people worldwide will need help and protection in crises spanning more than 50 countries. Next year, nearly USD 29 billion will be needed in humanitarian aid. The figures are likely to rise in the next few years. While protracted conflicts are the biggest cause for global needs, climate change too increases the likelihood of natural disasters and associated damages.
Fighting corruption is our joint responsibility. The European Union can set an example here. Finland’s Presidency has further strengthened the emphasis on the Council agenda on the fight against corruption.
Forests are indispensable for sequestering carbon, preserving biodiversity and supporting livelihoods around the world. The importance of forests has been pointed up by the climate crisis and the recent devastating forest fires. The EU member states share a deep concern about the state of the world’s forests.
Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union is drawing to a close. Our Presidency coincided with a challenging transition period for the European Parliament and European Commission. However, this actually turned out to be beneficial for discussing migration and asylum policy. The interim period provided a window of opportunity for debate ahead of the adoption of new legislative proposals by the new Commission next year.
On Monday 2 December, Finland's Presidency of the Council of the EU submitted its proposal for the EU's multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021–2027 to the member states. Finland finalised the proposal, which meant setting concrete figures in the financial framework.
Gender inequality is a reality in the EU in many areas of life. Statistics show persistent gender pay and pension gaps and a higher risk of poverty for women than for men. Single parents are particularly hard pressed financially.
Jaana Husu-Kallio: European food policy means climate, economy and the wellbeing of people and the environment
Finland, as holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, held a high-level meeting with the Commission this autumn during which the member states were able to share their views on sustainable food policy and support the Commission in the preparations. Food policy is closely linked to the Green Deal programme of the newly inaugurated Commission. Why is the EU now pursuing a common direction in food policy and what does a sustainable European food policy aim to achieve?
Sonya Walkila: Charter of Fundamental Rights: 10 years an integral part of our European law, life and values
Ten years ago, the EU reached a turning point in consolidating the legal status and increasing the importance of fundamental rights. While the importance of fundamental rights had already been gradually growing within the EU and in EU law, it was only in December 2009 that the Treaty of Lisbon gave the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union the same legal value as the EU Treaties. The Charter thus became legally binding, not only on the Union but also on the member states – including their courts and public authorities – within the scope of EU law.
In recent years, international interest in the Arctic and Antarctic regions has taken on entirely new proportions. Many countries are closely following the work of the Arctic Council and want to participate in its activities as observers or otherwise. Engaging in research cooperation and regional debate under the Antarctic Treaty is also of interest to many countries.
Every year in Europe, around 120 000 workers develop cancer and 80 000 die as a result of exposure to cancer-causing chemicals at work. Cancer accounts for an estimated 53% of all work-related deaths in the European Union and other developed countries. The fight against work-related cancer has been intensified in Europe in recent years.
The volume of digital data is growing exponentially. The data economy has already attained a level at which it has a major impact on economic development. In the future, data will contribute strongly to services, economic growth and competitiveness. To shield this development, we need to make sure that data is accessible, protected and secure. The data economy will be the theme of a major conference in Helsinki on 25 and 26 November.
Since the Commission communication and the adoption of the legislative proposals, one thing has been made clear as regards the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform: improving the state of the environment and responding to climate change are key objectives. The Commission’s proposal for the post-2020 CAP addresses global challenges such as the loss of biodiversity and the increasing rate of climate change. During the negotiations on the reform, all member states have stressed the importance of the objectives.
The Cyber Ranges Federation project is building an EU-wide cyber range, a closed cyber exercise and training environment, for the use of defence administrations in EU member states. The aim is to develop cyber capabilities and training in EU member states to help them prepare for cyber threats.
Timo Ritonummi: SET Plan Conference aims to solve the climate challenge by promoting low-carbon technologies
The Paris Agreement on climate change sets strict targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Some countries have set even more ambitious targets – Finland, for example, aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2035. In mid-November, the SET Plan Conference will gather energy professionals in Helsinki to discuss energy and low-carbon technologies and how energy research and innovations can contribute to climate-friendly solutions.
Taina Nikula: A new direction for the economy – more circularity, intelligent solutions and sparing use of resources
Europe is looking for new ways of mitigating climate change. While cynics say this heralds a return to the dark ages of ‘make do and mend’, others believe this is now the start of a momentous shift to a new type of economy. At the October Environment Council, the environment and climate ministers of EU member states brought their own policy positions to the table and adopted Council conclusions on the circular economy prepared under Finland’s leadership.