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‘Officials were unclear on their responsibilities’ - Health ministry explains why Finland was late joining EU PPE agreement

Finland was the last member state to sign up, missing out on the first rounds of protective equipment distribution.

Aino-Kaisa Pekonen hallituksen tiedotustilaisuudessa.
Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has said "uncertainty" among civil servants is the reason that Finland missed out on the first four rounds of a EU-wide procurement process for protective coronavirus equipment.

The ministry said in a report (in Finnish) that the error was not caused by any individual civil servant.

Finland was the last member to sign up to the EU's joint equipment procurement agreement, signing on 27 March, leaving it no time to participate in the first four rounds of equipment distribution.

The ministry’s report was compiled by Jaana Koski, Director General of Administration. Koski clarified that Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen was not informed that Finland did not take part in the first stage of the joint procurement process.

According to the report, Pekonen held a reasonable assumption that preparation of the procurement agreement was progressing quickly.

"Participation in EU joint procurement requires prior accession to a framework agreement," the report states.

"As EU procurement, with the exception of medicines and vaccines, is not the responsibility of minister Pekonen, she did not have more detailed information on the timescale of the joint procurements and had no reason to doubt that Finland would have time to make the application," the ministry's report continued.

On Sunday evening Pekonen tweeted that "accession to the joint procurement agreement was delayed because the responsibility for preparing the matter was not clear among staff."

"In order to ensure that similar errors do not occur in future, I will take steps at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to strengthen the flow of information and clarify responsibilities," she wrote.

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