Finland wrapped up its EU presidency at the end of the year and the verdict is in. Unsurprisingly, some observers put more emphasis on the mild success, others on the failures in making progress. There was no lack of ambition, the country was aiming at the moon in six months.
Tiny steps forward were taken in efforts to strengthen the rule of law. In the future, there will be at least be an awareness of the link between funding and respect for the EU’s basic values. The issue is now on the table, but concrete review mechanisms are yet to be decided. Hungary and Poland were cautiously slapped on the wrist.
A big objective was to reach an agreement and strategy on carbon-neutral Europe by 2050. In principle, on a political level, there was a consensus on the issue and Finland got a feather in its cap. Only one member spoiled the party. Poland reserved itself a right to pursue its own timetable.
Not surprisingly, Finland’s proposition on the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021 -2027 received mixed feedback. The main criticism was its lack of future investments. Others praised its focus on budgetary discipline.
There were two clear failures. Plans for a common European asylum system did not move an inch forward. And the negotiations between Albania and North Macedonia on their EU membership were put on hold, France being the main opponent. In the current political climate, those issues might have been a mission impossible for any Presidency.
(Pekka Vänttinen reporting from Helsinki for EURACTIV.com)