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Finland backs redistribution of UK's EU seats

The government's Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs says Finland will not object to a partial redistribution of the UK's seats in the European Parliament.

Euroopan parlamentti istunnossaan Strasbourgissa, Ranskassa.
The EU Parliament in session in Strasbourg, France. Image: Patrick Seeger / EPA

Finland had previously voiced opposition to a proposal for a post-Brexit partial redistribution of British seats to under-represented EU countries and the establishment of a reserve for future EU enlargement.

On Friday the government's Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs decided that Finland will not block a redistribution plan if consensus is otherwise found among member countries.

However, the cabinet-partner Blue Reform Party announced opposition to the change in policy. Party chair and Minister for European Affairs Sampo Terho described the decision as a surrender by Centrist Prime Minister Juha Sipilä in the face of pressure from the rest of the EU.

Under the latest EU compromise proposal, 27 of the UK's 73 seats would be redistributed, bringing Finland one more representative in the European Parliament. A final decision, which has to be made by consensus among all EU members, is expected to be taken at a June summit.

The position taken by the government's Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs means that the Centre Party and National Coalition do not oppose the redistribution proposal, while both Terho and Foreign Minister Timo Soini, also of the Blue Reform, filed dissenting opinions.

In a press release, the European Affairs Minister stated that the Blue Reform could not back what he described as a "policy of surrender" and said that Finland should have opposed the EU proposal, even if it had done so alone.

In addition to leaving behind seats for representatives, when Britain departs the EU, the bloc's budget will have to do without net contributions totalling some 13 billion euros per year. EU countries recently started negotiations on the first post-Brexit budgeting period, which will last at least five years.

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