Finnish PM defends EU recovery package, dismisses domestic criticism

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin dismissed domestic criticism that the European Union (EU) recovery package — clinched earlier this week at a special summit — is a move towards wider integration of Europe.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Marin underlined that Finland insisted that the liabilities of each country were exactly defined, and “thus there is no joint debt,” Xinhua news agency reported.

Finland would not have accepted the outcome without that stipulation, Marin said, adding that Finland had succeeded in reducing the size of direct assistance in the recovery package.

The prime minister underscored that the rule-of-law principle was, for the first time, attached to the use of EU funding.

Marin dismissed the discussion about funding for countries that had allegedly mismanaged their economies. “That is not the issue now. Europe is seeking recovery jointly,” she said.

“Finland is an export-driven economy, and it is crucial for us that the whole of Europe will recover,” she said.

Following intense marathon negotiations, leaders of the 27 EU member states on Tuesday morning reached a consensus on the 750-billion-euro (US $867 billion) recovery fund and the bloc’s long-term budget worth over 1 trillion euros.

According to the final conclusions, the debt-financed recovery fund comprises 390 billion euros in non-repayable grants and 360 billion euros in loans to member states, while the European Commission’s original proposal of the fund consisted of 500 billion euros in grants and 250 billion euros in loans.

The final plan is also a compromise for Poland and Hungary as the two countries opposed linking the recovery fund to complying with the rule of law. Measures against democratic backsliding require a qualified majority of member states.