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Rinne discusses Brexit with Swedish and British PMs

The Swedish and Finnish PMs weighed EU issues in Helsinki before Antti Rinne's phone call with Boris Johnson.

Pääministeri Antti Rinne (vas.) ja Ruotsin pääministeri Stefan Löfven
Rinne and Löfven at the Future Forum seminar arranged by the Finnish SDP in Helsinki on 5 October. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Antti Rinne hosted his Swedish counterpart Stefan Löfven on Saturday in Helsinki. The two Social Democratic premiers discussed issues on the agenda of the EU summit on October 17-18, including Brexit and the long-term EU budget framework through 2027. Rinne and Löfven also talked about sustainable growth, Baltic Sea protection and Arctic issues.

After their bilateral talks, the two took part in a panel on the future of the Nordic welfare society as part of the SDP's weekend Future Forum seminar in Helsinki, hosted by party secretary Antton Rönnholm.

The two discussed efforts to slow climate change, expressing concern over climate change deniers and those attacking young activists such as Sweden's Greta Thunberg.

At a joint press conference, they concentrated on EU affairs. Löfven voiced support for a proposal championed by Rinne whereby granting of EU subsidies to member states would be linked to adherence to the rule of law.

Along with the climate, it has emerged as a main theme of the first half of Finland's six-month EU presidency term, which ends in December.

Löfven, 62, became the leader of Sweden's SDP in 2012 and has been PM since 2014. Rinne, 56, took the reins of the Finnish SDP in 2014, becoming premier in June this year.

Johnson agrees to Brexit proposal schedule

Regarding Brexit, Rinne said that he and Löfven had both planned to speak with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday but that the calls had been cancelled.

Rinne's office issued a statement early Saturday evening saying that he had spoken with Johnson about his latest Brexit proposal, which was rejected by many EU leaders last week.

"I told him that the proposed solutions would not ensure adherence to the Good Friday agreement nor the EU's integrity and functioning of its internal markets," Rinne said in the statement.

"I told Johnson that it is important to find a solution within a week so that the matter can be properly considered at the October European Council. Johnson said that he agreed on this timetable," he went on to say.

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