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Helsinki seat of new EU presidency

brussels bureau

Helsinki seat of new EU presidency


Incoming European Union president Finland wants all the key institutional reforms in the stalled EU constitution to come into effect in a new treaty in 2008. Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja has said Helsinki will work to avoid any “cherry-picking” of the charter’s key features. He said: “We know with almost 100 percent probability that the treaty in its present form will not come into force; The task of the European Council is to keep the process alive.”

Finland takes up the rotating EU presidency from Austria this Saturday. The Finns plan to ratify the constitution this October. They also plan to help the 25-nation bloc modernise its economy and promote innovation. Finland has earned a reputation for top-ranking international competitiveness. Pro-EU-integration Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen recently adopted a balanced tone about future enlargement policy:

“We are not going to make a new criteria for applicant countries; We have to take care of the absorption capacity of the Union, but it is not a new criteria for the enlargement.” The centrist leader said he would regard it as a personal failure if Turkey’s EU accession talks were suspended on his watch because of a crisis
over Cyprus. Boosting energy cooperation with Russia while seeking alternative gas supplies is also high on the Finnish presidency’s agenda.

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