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Home NATIONALBrexit disappoints Finland : PM tells Parliament
Sat, 02 Jul, 2016 01:49:02 AM
No referendum on EU in Finland
FTimes Report, Jul 2

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä on Friday told the Parliament that the UK's referendum outcome was a disappointment for Finland and the entire European Union.

“The UK is an important partner for Finland both in terms of the economy and security. The UK, like Finland, has been taking the EU in a more transparent, more effective direction that also emphasises the Single Market. It is, nevertheless, beyond doubt that the referendum result will be respected,” he said.

“The British people had voted to leave the EU. Few believed beforehand that this could really happen, although the situation was very close the whole time and criticism of the EU had already been strong,” the Prime Minister continued.

The British Government is now expected to present an official notification of withdrawal.

The aim is that this should be made as quickly as possible. Based on this week's meeting of the European Council, the notification will possibly be made in September.

Negotiations about the withdrawal will not begin until this notification has been received, the PM mentioned.

“Sufficiently quick progress is essential to dispel uncertainty…The period of uncertainty must be as short as possible,” he added.  

He said, Finland will not, however, be holding a referendum on withdrawal from the EU. “It is clear where we belong. Let's not focus on complaining, but on exerting our influence.”

The United Kingdom will remain a sovereign Member State with all the rights and obligations which that entails up to the day of withdrawal, he said.

“The withdrawal process must be managed in a practical and businesslike manner. The EU and the United Kingdom will always need each other, and the relationship should be balanced and as close as possible,’ he said.

The 27 Member States of the European Union this week declared that access to the EU's Single Market will require all four freedoms of movement (goods, services, capital and people).

It was also decided that the European Commission will be in charge of the withdrawal negotiations, and that these will be based on the guidelines adopted by the European Council.

Finland will conduct a careful analysis to see which matters will be affected by the UK's new relationship with the EU and the points to be taken into account during the negotiation process to protect Finland's interests, the Prime Minister said.

The European Union was created from the ruins of the Second World War for the purpose of safeguarding peace and stability in Europe.  The intention was that this would prevent any further outbreak of war.

“Europe must not forget the events of history. At the meeting of Heads of State or Government,” he quoted one of his colleagues as saying "Anyone who doesn't understand the purpose of the EU should visit some war graves."

He observed that the EU must be big in major issues and small in minor issues. “In my view, this kind of turning point always brings with it an opportunity to improve our own actions. Just as it does now.”

In Finland, as in other Member States, it is important to find the courage and will to make decisions on reforms and to put these into effect, Sipilä said.

For Finland, the Competiveness Pact demonstrates that it is possible to decide on structural reforms, even major ones, although this is not always the quickest or easiest path to follow.

“We must also look at what the EU has to offer us in the way of tools for promoting growth.  I believe that after peace, stability and security, the EU's biggest achievement is the Single Market – a common European market area where goods, services, people and capital move freely,” he said

He mentioned EU membership was a political choice that connects Finland to the Western community of values. “For Finland, it is also a security policy choice.”

It is clear that the United Kingdom’s EU referendum result will also have an impact on the EU’s foreign and security policy.

The Prime Minister underlined the need for unity, improved implementation and clearer communication.

“I also challenged the EU leaders to adjust their thoughts from crisis mode to development mode. Brussels must do better, as must Finland,” he said.

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