Prime Minister: Finland will probably postpone ratification of EU constitution
Finland critical of budget compromise
Finland is one of the countries that is likely to postpone its ratification of the proposed constitution for the European Union, says Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre). At the EU summit in Brussels, the Prime Minister said that he does not expect the government to put forward a proposal on the issue to Parliament in the near future.
The Finnish government’s ministerial committee on EU affairs will discuss the matter next week.
The EU leaders are also set to discuss the controversial issue of the framework of the budget. Finland has been critical of a compromise proposal put forward by Luxembourg, which holds the EU Presidency.
"We will continue the preparation of the ratification documents at the administrative level, but the proposal to the ministerial committee will most likely be that we will not yet make a proposal for ratification", the Prime Minister said late Thursday evening.
"The document will be presented as a report, or in some other form", Vanhanen said, adding that Parliamentarians would then be able to voice their views on it.
Vanhanen and President Tarja Halonen said that member states indicated at the summit that the EU needs time to go over the proposed constitution, suggesting that it would not be good for the EU to get any more negative decisions in the referendums of different countries.
"It is also not without risk if countries just push through with these [ratifications] according to the present timetable without having to ponder what the situation is right at this moment", President Halonen said.
On Thursday evening the fate of the constitution was the focus of discussions among the European leaders. Today, Friday, the EU budget will be the main issue.
Luxembourg, the holder of the Presidency of the EU, has proposed a compromise that would increase Finland’s payments into the EU fivefold.
According to official sources, the proposal would raise Finland’s net contribution to up to EUR 400 - 500 a year. Now Finland pays about EUR 100 million to the EU.
Vanhanen says that the proposal goes "in the right direction", but adds that Finland has made "well-argued proposals for change".
"In the Luxembourg proposal [the Finnish contribution] is close to the tolerance threshold of our position. Let’s see if we can get any improvements", Vanhanen said as he arrived at the summit on Thursday.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Foreign Minister Tuomioja wants only short time-out on EU Constitution (16.6.2005)