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Chair of the Grand Committee Satu Hassi giving her presentation speech in plenary on 27 October.
The follow-up debate on the Government Report on EU Policy (link to the report) on the basis of the Grand Committee report took place in plenary on Wednesday 27 October. The Government Report, submitted to Parliament in January 2021, deals with key multi-annual guidelines for the development of the EU and Finland's position in the EU. Parliament's Grand Committee issued its report on the Government Report earlier this month (link to the Committee report).
The follow-up debate began with Grand Committee Chair Satu Hassi's (Green Party Parliamentary Group) presentation speech. She emphasised the importance of the EU for Finland's international position. According to Hassi, the EU is a major producer of stability, prosperity and security. EU membership is the most important choice in defining Finland's international position. It anchors Finland in the European community of values, which is based on democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and equality.
According to Hassi, the total benefit of membership must be assessed based on the economy, security and future, and not by the net contribution share or net gain. She also emphasised that, as an EU member, Finland is involved in making decisions that will affect us in any case. As a large economic area, the EU is a major global player and Finland has a greater influence on international development as a member of the EU.
Hassi stated that the Grand Committee had emphasised that three aspects must be taken into account when setting the goals for Finland's EU policy. Protection of national interest is obviously part of Finland's EU policy. According to Hassi, Finland must also define what kind of European goals and values we want to promote. In addition, it is necessary to outline how Finland wants the EU to influence the development of the whole world.
After Satu Hassi's presentation speech, the parliamentary groups and various MPs had a lively debate that lasted more than four hours. The speeches emphasised the common will to develop and enhance Finland's influence in the EU. The discussion also included critical remarks.
The debated Government Report on EU Policy is the third report submitted to Parliament during Finland's EU membership that comprehensively describes Finland's EU policy. The Government Report with Parliament's contribution and approval can therefore be considered as an indicative starting point for Finland's strategic goals for the EU.
Twelve special parliamentary committees issued statements in support of the deliberations of the Grand Committee. In special committees, virtually every Member of Parliament becomes acquainted with EU affairs from the point of view of his or her committee's area of responsibility. According to Hassi, this is a key strength of Finland's EU decision-making. Following the deliberations of the special committees, the task of the Grand Committee is to ensure that Parliament's position is consistent and clear. This ensures that Finland is always represented in the EU by a government that is accountable to Parliament.
In its report, the Grand Committee focused in particular on assessing the objectives of Finland's EU policy. In addition, it dealt with the importance of EU membership for Finland, the external international environment, the internal development of the EU, Finland's influence on the EU and the role of Parliament in determining Finland's EU policy.
Three dissensions were appended to the Grand Committee report. They will be put to the vote in plenary on Friday 29 October.