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Finnish constitution may block French-German eurozone proposal

The Finnish constitution might prove to be a stumbling block for Germany and France’s recent proposal that a majority could decide on operations of the permanent European bailout fund. A constitutional law expert says the loss of Finland's veto would infringe on the rights of Finnish taxpayers.

Miapetra Kumpula-Natri
Miapetra Kumpula-Natri Image: YLE

European decision-makers are racing against time as they try to find a solution to the eurozone crisis. As part of their recent proposal, France and Germany are saying that the EU fund’s operations could in the future be determined by a qualified majority of states instead of a consensus, but Finland rejects the idea.

Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee will give its judgement on whether the proposal for qualified majority voting can be reconciled with the constitution on Thursday. The decision is awaited by the Grand Committee, which deals with EU affairs.

“It does not look easy, and also, personally, I think that every state in Europe has important rights—and not just the large states,” says Grand Committee chair Miapetra Kumpula-Natri.

Kumpula-Natri says that the decision will tie the hands of Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen when he negotiates at Friday’s crucial EU summit.

Giving up the veto

On Wednesday, the committee heard constitutional law expert Kaarlo Tuori. In his view, the proposal by France and Germany would infringe upon the rights of Finnish taxpayers.

“Finland will give up its veto rights when it comes to ESM [permanent European Stability Mechanism] decisions,” Tuori says. “Without its own consent, Finland could be committed to decisions which concern using tax money paid by Finnish taxpayers.”

Finns Party chair and presidential candidate Timo Soini also argues against giving up the veto.

“The situation is very difficult and our young leadership is under immense pressure,” he notes.

Criticism from Lipponen

SDP presidential candidate Paavo Lipponen, known for his favourable views on the EU, has strongly criticised Germany and France for their behaviour ahead of Friday’s summit.

Lipponen says that Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy take other countries’ parliaments for fools when keeping them in the dark before the summit and then expecting them to approve monumentally important decisions overnight.

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