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Parliament postpones vote on EU stimulus package

A plenary session on Tuesday lasted from 2pm on Tuesday afternoon until nearly 4.30am on Wednesday morning.

Anu Vehviläinen
Speaker of Parliament Anu Vehviläinen (Cen) suspended the session at 4:24am. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

A parliamentary vote on the EU's Covid recovery plan, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, has been postponed after a debate on the stimulus package on Tuesday dragged on into the early hours of the morning.

The plenary session began at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon and ended at 4:24am on Wednesday morning. Yet despite the marathon 14-hour duration of the debate, not all MPs had an opportunity to speak on the subject, leading Speaker of Parliament Anu Vehviläinen (Cen) decided to suspend the session.

As of Wednesday morning, parliament had not provided any further information as to when the postponed vote will be held.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Juho Eerola (Finns) told Yle he believes that the debate will continue on Wednesday.

"The vote cannot take place as originally planned, as there are still remarks to be heard. I would guess the discussion will continue for a long time today," Eerola said.

According to parliament's current schedule, the next plenary session will not be held until Tuesday of next week, as there are no plans to hold sessions on Ascension Thursday or on Friday.

However, it is possible that a decision will be taken later on Wednesday to hold an extraordinary plenary session so that the vote can take place this week.

Finns Party MPs delivered 24 speeches

By 1am on Wednesday morning the session was still ongoing but the legislature was almost empty. The last 24 speeches of the session were delivered by Finns Party MPs and no members of any other party spoke after 1:30am.

Finland's parliament has a history of marathon debates on EU topics. In 1994, a debate over Finland's accession to the European Union took four and a half days—the longest parliamentary debate in Finland's post-war history.

Wednesday's vote had been scheduled to decide whether Finland should approve the EU's 750-billion-euro Covid recovery package and seven-year EU budget framework, of some 1,074 billion euros. If even one member state does not accept the package, the recovery plan will not be rolled out.

The Finnish parliament's approval requires a two-thirds majority, so the votes of the governing parties alone are not enough to carry the proposal, and they therefore need the support of the opposition National Coalition Party (NCP).

The rest of the opposition parties plan to vote against the package, while the NCP leadership has given its MPs free rein to vote as they wish. The party is known to have both supporters and opponents of the package.

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