Finland’s Prime Minister, Jyrki Katainen (NCP), said the European Union should focus on ways to move forward instead of pessimistic attitudes during his 16 April speech to the EU parliament in Strasbourg.
Katainen began his speech with condolences to the 15 April Boston Marathon bombing victims before delivering his 10 point address outlining his outlook on the European Union’s future. Katainen said he was worried about the growing attitudes of pessimism throughout the continent and believed EU discussion should highlight ways Europe can move forward.
Respectful discussion, common values, and mutual adherence to the rules are the three main building blocks to a fair EU, Katainen said. The Finnish Prime Minister also said he didn’t understand why lines have been divided between northern and southern Europe, nor the populist and nationalist movements which have spread across the continent.
Katainen said, “When we respect rules and the rule of law, we uphold democracy. This strengthens people’s ownership of European integration,” he added. He said his own moderate and integration-friendly country, Finland, could provide valuable contributions to discussions about Europe’s future.
Although Katainen said each of the European Union states is responsible for organising its own finances and he understood why many have grown tired of bailouts, he also said the EU should continue to help out any of its states when necessary. New jobs, especially for unemployed youth, are another serious EU challenge, the Finnish PM said.
Katainen also used Finland as a model for energy policy and said the European Union’s own approach to this issue was unfocused. Katainen praised Finland’s Nordic energy model and clean tech initiatives and said the EU must begin working on an internal energy market.
Finland’s premier ended his speech by saying, “We need plenty of concrete action while making sure that European integration is based on common values and that the EU continues to be a value community.”