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Finance committee greenlights EU Covid stimulus package

Parliament is due to vote on the stimulus package next Wednesday, preceded by a debate on the matter on Tuesday.

File photo of Finnish Parliament in February 2021. Image: Pekka Tynell / Yle

Parliament's finance committee has voted to recommend that Finland should approve the EU's coronavirus crisis stimulus package.

In a report issued on Wednesday, the committee said it believed that supporting the package would be beneficial to Finland.

The committee's report presented eight criteria to approve the package, the first of which stating that accepting it would be considered exceptional and non-recurring.

Under the package, Finland would receive some 2.9 billion euros in the near future, and then pay back around 6.6 billion euros by 2058. The package needs to be approved by all EU member states before it can take effect.

The finance committee reached Wednesday's decision by a vote of 12-5, with the governing parties' 12 representatives voting in favour, and five dissenting votes coming from opposition parties, although the opposition National Coalition Party (NCP) abstained.

Parliament is due to vote on the stimulus package next Wednesday, preceded by a debate on the matter on Tuesday.

Opposition NCP may play decisive role

Last week, a key parliamentary committee ruled that the recovery plan would need the support of two-thirds of MPs to pass a vote in parliament, meaning that the government would also need support from opposition parties for it to go ahead.

Initially, the traditionally pro-EU NCP formally announced that it would abstain from the vote, but shortly after that some of the opposition party's members signalled they would not follow the party's plans on the matter. Some MPs from the Centre Party, one of the main government partners, are seen as weighing a vote against the package, so NCP votes could be crucial in ratifying the agreement and avoiding a potential EU crisis. The package must be approved by all member states.

The Recovery and Resilience Facility will provide some 672.5 billion euros in loans and grants to help member states recover from the pandemic-induced recession. Combined with other aspects of the package, the total funds disbursed by the EU will be 750 billion euros.

The government plans to spend half of Finland's share of the package towards helping the country make a "green transition" from reliance on fossil fuels while one-quarter of the funding will be used towards digitalisation.

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