Finland to vote against EU's forestry policy due to 'ambiguities'

The policy is contained in the EU's Climate Delegated Act and part of the EU's classification system, also known as the EU taxonomy.

Finland's government said that aspects of the forestry policy "are difficult to understand and open to interpretation". Image: Janne Langen / Yle

Finland intends to vote against the EU's Climate Delegated Act over concerns about the criteria outlined in the proposal for forest management.

The Act is part of the EU's classification system, also known as the EU taxonomy, which establishes a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities.

Parliament's Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs indicated the intention to vote against the proposal following a meeting on Wednesday morning, but Finland's official position will be finalised at a later date by Parliament's Grand Committee.

In a statement released on Wednesday morning, the government welcomed the objective of the delegated act but expressed concerns that aspects of the proposal "are difficult to understand and open to interpretation".

"The ambiguity of the criteria could lead to a situation where forestry would be excluded from the taxonomy, which would make it more difficult to access funding for forestry investments," the statement said, adding that the specific details concerning forestry management should remain within the control of each member state.

The criteria contained in the draft delegated act has also raised concerns within the Finnish forest industry.

The taxonomy regulation has already been passed by the European Parliament, and will be voted on by the EU Council of Ministers later this year.

Greens, Left oppose committee's position

In a joint statement released later on Wednesday, government coalition partners the Green Party and the Left Alliance indicated that they are opposed to the line suggested by the parliamentary committee.

"We believe that the line pushing for the repeal of the delegated act is detrimental to Finland's interests as well as climate policy," Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) and Minister of Education Li Andersson (Left) said in a joint statement.

Both parties further emphasised that the purpose of the taxonomy regulation is to establish criteria for managing funding in a climate-sustainable way.

"The policy of voting against the act would have a negative impact on the implementation of Finland's and the EU's climate goals and the obligations outlined in the Paris [Climate] Agreement," the statement continued, adding that opposing the act will not benefit Finland's advocacy work in the EU and may in fact jeopardise Finland's other national interests.

Green party chair Maria Ohisalo also responded to the committee's announcement on Wednesday, writing that "Finland is on the wrong side of development with regard to the taxonomy of sustainable EU financing, that curbs climate change and biodiversity loss".

In a separate interview with Yle, Ohisalo said she was surprised that the government cannot reach consensus on this issue.

"We are amazed that common ground was not found here within the government when considering the agreements on climate action and biodiversity loss in the government programme," Ohisalo said, adding that she found it "regrettable" that parliament would oppose the taxonomy in the interests of the forestry industry.

According to Yle's information, the Greens and the Left Alliance intend to vote against the committee's proposal in the Grand Committee, when Finland's official position is finalised.

Finland rarely votes against the majority's view at the EU level.