Petteri Orpo: “We need a resilient, competitive and secure Europe”

Addressing MEPs, the Finnish Prime Minister highlighted a strong economy, security, the clean transition and continued support for Ukraine as key priorities for the EU.

In his “This is Europe” address to the European Parliament, Prime of Minister of Finland Petteri Orpo focussed on three key factors for the coming years. First, strategic competitiveness, which is important as Europe’s productivity is falling behind that of key competitors. To thrive in a global landscape, Europe needs a fully functioning internal market, investments in innovation and skills, and a more effective use of its budget, said Mr Orpo. The EU also needs to conclude new trade deals, he argued.

Secondly, Mr Orpo emphasised the importance of security. This includes ramping up the defence industry so EU and NATO can complement each other, as well as defending the EU’s external borders against Russian hybrid attacks. The economic vitality of border regions is also crucial from a security perspective, said Mr Orpo.

Thirdly, the Prime Minister raised the clean transition as another key priority. To tackle climate change and phase out fossil fuels while creating jobs, the transition needs to leverage the bioeconomy and circular economy. Mr Orpo argued that climate goals should be reached with more innovation, not only more regulation.

Finally, Mr Orpo underlined that supporting Ukraine is a strategic necessity for Europe. Although Russia has shifted to a war economy, it is not invincible, and its military capabilities are limited. Mr Orpo encouraged Europeans to pool their resources to support Ukraine by accelerating ammunition production immediately, by allocating additional funding to the European Peace Facility, and by extending the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) capabilities beyond dual-use projects.

Reactions from MEPs

In their interventions after Prime Minister Orpo’s address, several MEPs praised Finland’s leadership on climate and digital policy as well as on gender equality. They also welcomed the country’s accession to NATO and called on the EU to rise to the challenges linked to external diplomacy and defence.

Others criticised the Finnish centre-right government’s choice of forming a coalition with the far right at home, stressing the dangers this could pose for Europe. Some MEPs also criticised the Finnish PM for policies they said undermine the Finnish labour market as well as social and worker protection.