EU to become part of Finnish constitution
Committee’s proposal would make PM main representative at EU summits
Parliament will soon get to debate on whether or not it should have more power in solving possible disputes over foreign policy decisions. The issue is related to constitutional reform that has been under consideration by a committee headed by Christoffer Taxell. The committee submitted its proposals to Minister of Justice Tuija Brax (Green) on Wednesday.
When the proposals were being presented at the House of the Estates on Wednesday, representatives of the government parties, the Centre, the National Coalition, the Greens, and the Swedish People’s Party said that the leaderships of their parties had committed themselves to the results of the work of the committee.
The smallest opposition parties issued dissenting opinions to the proposals. The largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, did not immediately take a stand on the matter.
One of the proposals is the inclusion of a statement in the Finnish constitution that Finland is a member of the European Union.
On the long-standing disagreement over who should attend summits of the EU on Finland’s behalf, the committee proposes that the Prime Minister would represent Finland at all EU meetings requiring a state leader, and the President would be permitted to participate in EU meetings in exceptional situations, if the government so decides.
A central feature of Finnish political culture is that there are two matters calling for as broad a consensus as possible: amending the constitution, and foreign policy.
The committee proposes that if the government and president fail to reach agreement on a foreign policy issue, the matter would be decided in Parliament. It is likely that there will be debate on whether or not the issue should be decided by the full Parliament, or the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
Social Democratic MPs, Heli Paasio and former Minister of Justice Johannes Koskinen said at a press conference that the SDP will take a stand on the reform only when the government gives an actual proposal on the matter.
Of the eight parties in Parliament, the SDP alone opposes the government’s proposals for greater proportionality in the electoral system in Parliamentary elections. The aim of the change is to make the allocation of seats in Parliament among the parties better reflect the division of votes in the election.
The proposal for constitutional change will come before Parliament in April.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Poll: Majority oppose cutting Presidential powers in foreign policy (21.12.2009)
Government reiterates: Prime Minister and not President to attend EU summits (4.12.2009)
President and Prime Minister still at odds over EU summit issue (3.12.2009)