Finland and Sweden hold differing views on EU

Finland supports a strong Commission. Sweden would rather put the emphasis on developing the Council of Ministers. The Commission is a supranational institution. The Council consists of ministers from member countries.

This is how a report in the daily Helsingin Sanomat (8 October 2000) sums up the differences between Finland and Sweden about the future of the European Union. The paper adds that Finland agrees with Romano Prodi's views supporting the position of the Commission. The Finnish ambassador to the EU, Antti Satuli, is quoted as saying that the only one big issue in Prodi's recent declaration which causes problems for Finland is strengthening the Commission's power over foreign and security policy.

Satuli points out that the Commission is the institution which oversees the interests of all member countries, not only the big ones. According to Helsingin Sanomat, Sweden also sees the Commission as important for small countries but it would prefer basing the EU more on nation states.

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson said recently that one should give the Council of Ministers a stronger role because ministers have received a mandate from citizens through elections. Persson also voiced his opposition to taking the EU towards a federal state. He said that a federal state would increase EU decision-makers' responsibility towards voters but would take power too far from citizens.

Helsingin Sanomat quotes Alexander Stubb, a researcher at the Finnish EU delegation, as saying that a federal state would best secure the interests of small member countries.

The debate has come alive after several European leaders have expressed the desire to take power away from the Commission. In addition to Persson, Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac have come up with similar suggestions. According to observers in Brussels, quoted by Helsingin Sanomat, there are differences of opinion in all camps as to which aspects of integration should hold priority.

See also:

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