Approved at the party delegation meeting on October 3rd, 2021
A more democratic European Union 2
European climate solutions 5
An environmentally sustainable Europe 7
Human rights in Europe 10
European economy, well-being and education 13
Global cooperation for sustainability and global justice 15
Closing words: A European Union that is resistant to crises,
secure, and able to learn from its mistakes 18
In a world of growing interdependence, security threats transcend national borders. This has been proven both by the economic crisis that started in 2008 and the Covid-19 pandemic of the 2020s. Instability is reflected in our fragile environment and in the way we deal with the climate crisis. As EU citizens, Finns must be able to influence, regulate and democratically decide on issues that affect our lives. A more comprehensive and robust ability to influence the world around us through the democratic rule of law is needed. The European Union responds to this need and, as an instrument of cooperation, is our best chance of increasing security and prosperity as well as actively countering threats.
Whether the challenge is strengthening democracy, tackling the climate crisis, environmental degradation and species loss, or curbing global market forces, the EU is the platform where we can directly influence, act within and have effective tools at our disposal.
The Greens are a pro-EU party that recognizes the opportunities and challenges of a joint project. We want to close the democratic deficit in the EU to make decision-making more understandable and accessible to people. We must also ensure that the EU remains a haven of freedom and democracy, open to new people and ideas.
The Greens believe that building an ever-closer Union does not take power away from local or regional decision-makers. Instead, unity creates new power and new opportunities for influence, especially for smaller Member States. A single market of 445 million people, a common foreign policy, and a more coherent political structure will provide security, predictability, and opportunity for individuals and the community. To ensure that this power is exercised responsibly, democratically, and remains in the hands of citizens, reforms are needed in the decision-making process. We welcome a European Union that is moving closer to federalism, provided that the emerging federalism is also increasingly democratic, increasingly just, increasingly climate-, environmentally and animal-friendly – and assumes its international responsibilities.
The Greens are in favour of strengthening federalism if the model protects human and animal rights, promotes civilisation and sustainable development, and looks to the future. It is impossible to tell whether there will be a single leap towards federalism in the future or whether the European Union will continue to develop stutteringly, from crisis to crisis. Still, we are ready to play our part in building the future. Opening the Treaties and renegotiating them is not an end in itself, but it is an option if considered necessary for the development of the Union. Federalism alone does not guarantee a good outcome, but the current structures based on the nation-state must change if the Union’s promises to its citizens are to be fulfilled.
The rise of the extreme right-wing and other anti-democratic extremism, accelerating digitalisation, economic disengagement from democratic control, and environmental disasters will define the next century. We are part of a European civil society ready to demand democracy, equality, equity, and justice across borders. As citizens, human beings, and Greens, we are responsible for acting rightly, decisively, independently of the EU and nation-states.
The Greens’ Europe programme is our vision for a shared future for Europe and the European Union. It is a vision of how the EU can tackle the climate crisis and the nature gap, increase democracy, equality, and equity, and build a fair economy. It is also an agenda for how the European Union must develop to truly meet the goals that have been set for it and that we will set for it in the future.
A strong European Union is needed in global politics. The EU must continue to be the force that promotes democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and sustainable development, not forgetting animal welfare. The Union must set the standards for world politics and trade and not simply accept procedures that are familiar or dictated by others. The European Union was founded as a peace project, and work is required to maintain this role.
The programme covers seven major themes that we Greens want to influence through the European Union and which we believe are deciding factors of our common European future. Green Europe and the European Union is a community of nature and people, where freedom, equality, and prosperity flourish, which influences the direction of the global community.
Europe also exists outside the EU. The countries of the EEA area must be closely integrated into the single market. The member states of the Council of Europe must be committed to the long-term development of human and civil rights, democracy, education, and culture. Other aspects of Europe’s intellectual heritage must be nurtured beyond national borders. The EU is a key player, but the Greens and Finland must be active in all European arenas.
A more democratic European Union
Does the EU listen to its citizens? Who truly has power in the Union? The rhetoric is one of openness and transparency, but there is still a long way to go before these principles are put into practice.
European cooperation is based on the idea that better results are achieved by working together than by individual Member States. Together, the EU can tackle the world’s biggest challenges and create common good. Together, EU countries uphold the “Four Freedoms” in the Treaties, which allow people, products, capital, and services to move freely within the Union.
Decision-making structures have been created to ensure that the voice of both citizens and Member States is heard. In the Council of Ministers, the decision-making power is exercised by the ministers of the Member States; in the European Council, it is exercised by the prime ministers and presidents. The Commission drafts the laws, and the Parliament consists of elected representatives of the people. The Committee of the Regions is made up of decision-makers from cities, municipalities, and federal states. Decision-making is complex, and it is often difficult to tell who in the end exercises power. Many feel that the EU system is not giving citizens a voice.
Democracy in the EU institutions must be strengthened
We need to strengthen real people’s democracy in the Union. The role of the elected European Parliament must be strengthened and the negotiations between the Commission, the Council, and Parliament must be made more transparent and open. The leadership of the Commission must be subject to electoral influence. Women, minorities, and young people must have a stronger voice in EU decision-making.
Efforts have been made to make EU decision-making more understandable, but often citizens are not reached. Openness and transparency must be increased in all EU institutions. The Parliament is relatively transparent, but the processes of the Commission and especially of the Council are often obscured.
There is an inevitable need for reform. In the debate on the future of the EU, federalism is often mentioned, but what it means in practice is less often defined. A federal state can mean, for example, that Finland would be a state and the Finnish Parliament its regional parliament. The Commission would thus act like a government, which must enjoy the confidence of the European Parliament, and the Council of Ministers would become the upper house of Parliament. However, one form of governance is not an end but a tool towards a more functional Union. The important thing is not whether to call it a federation or strengthening of democracy, but to ensure that the EU can continue to enjoy its citizens’ trust and act to address common challenges.
Taking decision-making to the EU level does not necessarily add value in all areas. Therefore, it is essential to maintain the principle of proximity, whereby decisions should be taken as close to the citizen as possible. Local issues should be decided on locally, but it is more useful to decide on topics such as respect for human rights, cross-border transport solutions, or climate objectives on a shared basis. The proximity principle allows for closer regional decision-making where there are close links across the borders of nation-states. In the Tornio River valley, which is part of both Finland and Sweden and is traditionally cut off by a state border, it is possible to enhance cooperation between states. Similarly, in Sámi land, we can strengthen the role of the Sámi parliaments per the principle of subsidiarity.
Creating a European political space requires action
In a multilingual Union, generating common political debate is difficult, particularly between citizens, not only in Brussels. The Conference on the Future of Europe is a promising experiment, which, in order to succeed, requires genuinely listening to the citizens and translating the results into practice. If the process results in a meaningful model for citizen participation, it can also be used for future citizens’ forums and consultations.
MEPs represent all EU citizens and decide on legislation, but the current electoral system does not allow for a genuinely European debate. Elections consist of 27 separate national elections, and campaigns focus on national issues that often have no role in parliamentary decision-making. The introduction of shared European electoral lists will allow for a genuinely European campaign and give space for political debate. This would enable political actors to promote projects that are important to all EU citizens.
Despite the challenges, a growing number of citizens are seeking to influence EU decisions. New forces for a dignified life, a healthy environment, and fairer policies have emerged on the European political scene. Citizens’ movements that uphold the EU’s core values must be given better opportunities to make a difference.
EU decision-making needs the greens. We need to put a new generation of green and green-minded politicians on stage, offering their talents to be judged by the public, including in the highest positions in the European Union. Green values can be advanced by promoting them with expertise. Clearing space for displaying the values is essential for the future of both the Green movement and Europe as a whole.
- Increasing the power of the European Parliament. Giving Parliament the right to propose laws and extending its budgetary powers.
- Shifting to qualified majority voting in Council decision-making in the remaining policy areas, including taxation, social policy, and foreign policy, so that individual countries cannot paralyse the Union’s capacity to act.
- Shared European electoral lists must be brought alongside national lists in parliamentary elections the elections of the European Parliament. This way, MEP candidates can be voted for directly in all Member States, in addition to their national representatives. European parties, national and regional parliaments, and citizens’ associations with sufficient representation of Member States and citizens must be able to nominate candidates for joint lists. Representation of small Member States and minority groups on the lists must be ensured, and the regulations must also guarantee gender equality.
- The voting age for European elections and the age for launching and signing a European citizens’ initiative is to be lowered to 16.
- The Presidents of the Commission must be elected from among the representatives in the Parliament. A system of “front-runners” will be established, whereby the leading candidate on each electoral list will be the candidate for President of the Commission.
- Further developing the European citizens’ initiative and exploring the possibility of using direct consultative referendums on issues that do not undermine human rights.
- The production of multilingual, including minority language, independent and socially critical European media, as well as European parties and political foundations must be supported in order to strengthen the European political debate.
- Support the networking of marginalised people across Europe into Union-wide citizens’ movements.
- Increase the transparency of decision-making. Improve communication on Council meetings and publish the agendas and minutes of the trilogues between Parliament, Commission, and Council.
- Extend the use of the Transparency Register from the Parliament to the Commission and the Council so that lobbyists’ influence in the EU institutions can be monitored transparently.
- Member States must be obliged to respond not only to the Commission’s inquiries but also to Parliament’s questions and requests for information.
- Improving access to information on EU decision-making. Communicate EU decision-making in an understandable language and start communicating in plain language. Make the documents of all EU institutions public, except for those classified according to specific criteria. Ensure easy access to meeting information and documents. Ensure that the data provides a complete picture of the proceedings in the different institutions so that citizens can effectively follow the decision-making process. All information resources of the Commission and EU research institutes should be open as a matter of principle.
- Establishing European-wide standards for website and other software accessibility and sanction accessibility failures in public administrations.
European climate solutions
We need the European Union to solve the global problems of our time. The climate crisis, environmental degradation, and overconsumption threaten the foundations of our prosperity and millions of lives. Prosperity, social justice, and civilisation can only flourish if we work together to maintain the conditions for life on earth.
As one of the wealthiest continents in the world, Europe must shoulder its responsibility in the fight against the climate crisis. The EU is the actor that can effectively steer the entire global economy in a sustainable direction, but we must earn the title of climate leader. The EU must be uncompromising in pursuing ambitious and legally binding climate and environmental targets, both in the Member States and in international negotiations and agreements.
With the European Green Deal, the Union’s climate and environmental targets are being tightened across the board. One of the programme’s main achievements is the linking of climate policy and biodiversity to economic development. It is time for the Union and the Member States to recognise that climate policy is, to a large extent, monetary policy.
But the programme’s actions are not enough. The EU’s climate targets must be tightened up regarding emissions trading, agriculture, transport, and land use. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement must be reflected in all EU policies, legislation, and the financial framework.
Emissions trading has been the flagship of EU climate policy, steering energy production and heavy industry towards emission reductions. Still, the scheme needs to be updated to meet the Paris Agreement targets. Energy policy at the EU level needs to be strengthened towards low-emission energy production, which supports energy self-sufficiency and independence from imported energy and thus also the Union’s resilience to crises.
The reduction of emissions from transport, agriculture, and other “burden-sharing” sectors must be accelerated. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) takes up almost 40% of the Union’s budget and has been another significant priority for decades, alongside regional policy. Agricultural subsidies and policies must be reformed to support the sustainable development goals of the EU. Subsidies should be directed towards low-carbon, ecological production methods, animal welfare, and plant-based food production. We must also reduce the negative environmental impact of pesticides and chemical fertilisers.
The EU’s transport policy must put a low-emission and intelligent transport system at the top of the agenda. Selling new internal combustion engine cars should be phased out, and travel should be shifted from air to rail.
Land-use changes such as construction, mining, and logging reduce carbon sinks and weaken biodiversity. Climate targets for the land-use sector need to be raised, and the actual climate impacts of forest use and wood bioenergy need to be considered in climate targets.
The EU is a more significant climate actor than its size
The EU is the world’s largest economy, and the standards applied in the single market have a vast impact on the global economy. Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss is also a significant economic opportunity for all member states. Actions to improve the environment will create more jobs than are lost, and sustainable solutions can be exported worldwide. As the world moves towards a green economy, the EU must keep up with the race to develop green technologies and clean solutions. It is also time to introduce trade policies to promote sustainable development within the EU’s trading partners.
Climate action must be fair
The transition to a sustainable economy is necessary and will inevitably affect people’s daily lives and livelihoods. When climate targets are set at the EU level, they apply to all businesses in Member States. This ensures a level playing field for businesses, as they are rewarded for sustainable practices and punished for polluting ones. To ensure that no one is left empty-handed by the changes, EU funds must be targeted at those working in dwindling sectors due to climate change and action, such as coal and peat production, to help them find new livelihoods.
- Reduce EU emissions by at least 65% by 2030 and aim for carbon neutrality by 2040, after which we must become carbon negative.
- Set a binding carbon budget for the EU. The budget should be monitored, and new measures proposed if necessary.
- EU funding should promote low-emission energy sources.
- Correct the leakages in emissions trading: reduce the number of allowances to be auctioned quickly enough and cancel unsold allowances. Abandon the free allocation of allowances to polluting industries. Divert auctioning revenues from emissions trading to zero-emission investments, climate work in developing countries, and fair transition. Set a minimum price per tonne of carbon dioxide to ensure that emissions trading is guided.
- Burden-sharing sector targets must be tightened so that sufficient emission reductions are also achieved in transport and agriculture.
- Carbon sinks from forests and land use must be increased, and nature loss must be halted in the EU.
- Target EU budget and European Investment Bank funds to tackle the climate crisis and environmental degradation in a socially sustainable way.
- Fossil energy subsidies must immediately be phased out of the EU budget.
- Strengthen the EU’s common energy policy. Promote energy production and the electrification of EU’s energy production and consumption as well as sector coupling. Integrate energy markets, improve the security of supply and energy efficiency, and promote the transition to low-carbon energy production. Exclude fossil energy projects, such as gas pipelines, from the financing of trans-European energy networks.
- The Common Agricultural Policy and EU agricultural subsidies must always support a fair transition and actions and ambitious actors that have been proven to reduce environmental damage.
- Promote the development of electric transport and low-emission intelligent transport with EU R&D support. Tighten emission limits for new transport vehicles and phase out new internal combustion engine cars by 2030.
- Developing the rail network between Member States to replace short flights. Implement Rail Baltica and a rail tunnel under the Gulf of Finland. Reintroduce night trains across Europe. Introduce an EU-wide rail ticket system.
- Tighten emission reduction measures for aviation and maritime transport in the EU. Include international maritime transport through the EU in emissions trading. Introduce an EU-wide flight tax and promote an international flight tax. Abandon free allocation of emission allowances to aviation. Promote the abolition of the tax exemption for jet fuel in international agreements. Support ambitious emissions trading for maritime and aviation transport at the international level.
- EU trade agreements require compliance with the principles of sustainable development. Ensure the sustainability of imported products by banning the import of environmentally damaging products, such as those that cause deforestation, into the Union.
- Introduce carbon tariffs to ensure the competitiveness of sustainable European production and accelerate global change to eliminate unsustainable practices. Create export subsidies for product categories subject to EU carbon tariffs to ensure the competitiveness of EU exports.
- Establish a European Climate Panel of scientists to assess the adequacy of EU’s climate targets and actions concerning the Paris Agreement objectives.
An environmentally sustainable Europe
Biodiversity loss and the climate crisis threaten the very foundations of our society. It is clear that the EU cannot respond to the crisis of biodiversity loss with current policies. Now, if ever, is the time to shake up business as usual and steer the economy in a sustainable direction through EU-wide action.
Protecting species, improving water quality, and reducing air and chemical pollution have long been at the heart of EU policy. In many cases, despite strong opposition, the EU has been successful in its actions, for example tackling dangerous chemicals, sulphur emissions, and eutrophication.
However, the protection of species and habitats in Europe has been inadequate and insufficient. There has been little restoration and insufficient implementation and enforcement of legislation. The decline and degradation of nature have not been halted.
Europe’s green development agenda needs to be followed up with a more ambitious Green New Deal: a more comprehensive reconstruction programme that reconciles the economy with environmental resilience while promoting social justice. This means, for example, introducing a binding EU biodiversity law alongside the EU climate law.
The fundamental principles of environmental policy must be put back at the heart of policy. Responsibility for emissions should lie with the producer, and responsibility for the degradation of habitats should also lie with the cause. The EU needs legislation that obliges operators to restore habitats or compensate for habitat loss caused by economic activity elsewhere. The ‘do no harm’ principle should guide all EU action and use of funds. It means that funds should not be directed to environmentally harmful projects, and legislation should not encourage ecologically harmful activities.
Material consumption must be cut
Global consumption of biomass, fossil fuels, metals, minerals, and other common materials is predicted to double over the next 40 years. Half of the worldwide climate emissions and more than 90% of biodiversity loss result from resource extraction and processing. In the EU, material consumption has been steadily increasing despite environmental policies and improvements in material efficiency. The limit for sustainable material consumption is being exceeded many times over. This overconsumption must be curbed so that we can avoid a further decline in the state of nature, and halt the extinction of species. The EU must reduce material consumption, with binding and monitorable targets, as with climate targets.
The protection of nature and the environment must also meet the new challenges of our time. Digitalisation and electrification are welcome phenomena but require technological innovation and changes in material flows. These must be implemented sustainably. We must be able to handle electronic waste from digital and electrical equipment safely, tackle the planned obsolescence of equipment, and ban the dumping of electronic waste in developing countries.
Both the decentralised energy system based on low-carbon energy and the digital infrastructure of the information society are highly dependent on minerals produced unsustainably both within the EU and in importing countries. EU and national mining legislation must be swiftly brought up to a level that does not allow mining to degrade the environment. The EU and its Member States must take account of human rights and environmental issues in the countries of production in their procurement. Support the development of labour and environmental legislation in the producing countries, for example, in trade agreements. Profits must be channelled into the region’s development to improve well-being even after the end of the operation, instead of leaving piles of waste for the local people to handle.
All policies need to move towards a circular economy and reduced consumption. At the EU level, this can mean the most mundane things, such as a pan-European deposit scheme or regulation on waste sorting. The EU can effectively regulate all businesses and encourage, for example, public procurement to meet sustainability criteria. From a competition point of view, it makes sense to have uniform rules for all, requiring products to be durable, long-lasting, repairable, upgradeable, and recyclable.
- The EU must enact a binding biodiversity law protecting at least 30% of land and marine areas. At least 10% must be under strict protection.
- Expanding the European network of protected areas and ensuring an adequate level of protection for all habitats. Set binding targets for habitat restoration. Strictly protect all remaining ancient and semi-natural forests in the EU and safeguard wild grasslands and wetlands. Establish a network of transnational and coherent nature corridors across the EU.
- Strengthen the LIFE instrument and align other financial instruments, including the CAP, to better support the objectives of the Birds, Habitats, and Water Framework Directives.
- Products that promote nature loss must not be placed on the EU market, and trade agreements must prohibit environmentally harmful products.
- Establish a raw materials policy for the EU to reduce material consumption. Set a binding target to halve the consumption of virgin materials by 2050.
- The “do no harm” principle must be integrated into the use of EU funds and legislation.
- Establish criteria for sustainable financing based on scientific research, which will also guide private investment in sustainable areas.
- Implementing the polluter pays principle by introducing EU-wide taxes on harm, such as a meat tax.
- The implementation and enforcement of EU environmental policy need to be strengthened and identified environmental crimes must be sanctioned.
- Ensure at EU level the right of environmental organisations to bring the legality of EU decisions before the Court of Justice, as provided for in the Aarhus Convention.
- Tightening EU obligations on farm animal welfare. Ban fur farming and cage rearing across the EU and set limits on the length of journeys for animals for reasons other than animal health.
- Pursue EU mandate to promote animal welfare by setting binding minimum standards for all animals (including companion and hobby animals).
- Significantly tighten welfare requirements for laboratory animals and promote non-animal research and its efficiency, with financial support where necessary. Set an EU target to replace experimental animal research with ethically sustainable alternatives. Ensure that the EU ban on animal testing in cosmetics remains in place.
- Member States’ conservation measures must take into account endangered habitats and species as well as ecology. Increase incentives for voluntary conservation and introduce ecological compensation.
- Ensuring that digitalisation proceeds sustainably. Introduce minimum standards for mining legislation and taxation of mines at EU level. Step up the recycling of electronic waste generated in the EU and ensure that it is treated safely.
- Promote the circular economy through the EU budget, consumer protection regulation, and business policy. Setting circular economy criteria for products to be sustainable, repairable, and recyclable. Increasing producers’ responsibility for the management and recycling of their products. Building incentives to integrate circular economy into business models.
Human rights in Europe
Human rights are the basis for a dignified life. They must be guaranteed regardless of the person, their place of residence or their status. Today’s Europe is built on the pillars of respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law – this is worth cherishing.
The European Union often presents itself as the cradle of democracy and human rights. For many Europeans, everyday life transcends national borders, and it is essential for their rights to be respected even in cross-border situations. Fundamental and human rights must be equally available all over the EU, from Paltamo to Paris. Data protection, digital security, and people’s right to their own data are fundamental human rights in the digital age, and Europe must lead the way in implementing them.
Harmonising justice systems and closer cooperation are ways to make life easier for people living in Europe. Connections across the borders of existing nation states are already tight and lives are intertwined. Many minority peoples, including the only indigenous people in the EU, the Sami, live in many countries. Their right to decide on their own affairs must be supported and strengthened, including in cross-border matters. Minority and indigenous peoples must be guaranteed the right to their own language and culture. Supporting decision-making in these regions so that regions and cultural districts are not artificially divided is important. Preventing the natural movement of people decreases employment, economic growth, and social stability and runs counter to development objectives. Ideally, people should be able to move easily across existing borders and be assured of their rights from day one, whether moving from Oulu to Tampere or from Helsinki to Milan.
- Ensure the free movement of people. Border controls at internal borders must be avoided to the last resort. This requires effective external border controls but also legal and safe routes to Europe.
- Respect for fundamental and human rights across Europe must be guaranteed, and the EU must have effective means to sanction its member states for human rights violations.
- The EU and Europe must stand united to fight racism, sexism and discrimination, and threats against minorities. A solid legal and political basis for this work must be created, and adequate resources must be secured.
- Conclude the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention.
- The EU must act in accordance with the rule of law and human rights and demand this of its member states. If a country violates these fundamental principles of the Union, the EU must be able to intervene, for example by cutting funding and, if the violation continues, by suspending the country’s voting rights in the Council of Ministers.
- Actively support EU civil society and its capacity to act at European level, in Member States and especially in neighbouring regions where authoritarian regimes surround it.
- The role of the media in overseeing EU and European decision-making must be safeguarded by guaranteeing access to decision-making and ensuring the broadest possible transparency and access to documents. The media’s freedom to do its job must be protected against unjustified legal claims, targeted online mob attacks, threats, and other forms of harassment aimed at silencing it.
- Practical cooperation between judicial authorities should be strengthened to tackle cross-border crime, such as human trafficking, more effectively.
- Protect people from mass surveillance by EU and non-EU actors.
- Ensure the use of strong encryption technologies and anonymous, secure communication networks to guarantee privacy and freedom of expression.
Europe’s social dimension must be built on the principles of the Nordic welfare state. We want to create EU-wide minimum standards for basic security and labour regulation. In this way, we can contribute to economic development and the fight against poverty across Europe. The goal is an equal standard of living with dignity and active inclusion for everyone in Europe. The Greens believe that everyone must have the opportunity to work anywhere in the EU to make free movement a reality.
We need to reassess the extent to which social security, i.e. health care, social services, income transfers, and pensions, should be left to the Member States and the extent to which binding EU legislation can be created. The EU and EEA countries must increase cooperation between their social security institutions and simplify administrative processes for residents to be able to smoothly integrate into the national and local social security systems of their new country of residence. Social Europe also aims to create a barrier-free Europe and respect and promote the rights of people with disabilities.
- Simplify processes of internal migration in EU and access to public services by integrating public authorities’ electronic systems and facilitating electronic identification across borders.
- Ensure that the minimum subsistence level required by the EU treaties is achieved at a national level and for all groups of people.
- Primary health care and education must be made universal rights for everyone living in the European Union, regardless of their status.
- Ensure the unity and status of different families in European family law, also in cross-border situations. Ensure that the right of access to children is respected even if divorced parents move to other countries.
- The recognition of competencies acquired outside Europe and further training must be made more flexible, for example by increasing the possibility of demonstrating qualifications through examinations.
- Homelessness must be eradicated by ensuring that everyone living in Europe has access to housing in an area of their choosing. This also requires cooperation at the EU level to provide affordable housing in both urban and rural areas. Bringing the “housing first” principle to the EU level.
- Ensure the EU-wide right to a personal assistant for people with disabilities.
Asylum policy based on human rights
Every year, thousands of people drown in the Mediterranean because European governments fail to provide them with safe routes and refuse to rescue them in distress. People are turned away from Europe’s land borders without being given the opportunity to seek asylum. We support the rescue initiatives of civil society, but the European States and the European Union must bear the primary responsibility for correcting inhumane asylum policies.
Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, operates on migration routes in Africa, far from the EU’s external borders, making it difficult for people to move naturally in the region for reasons such as work and livelihoods. The EU must put an end to unnecessary obstacles and restrictions on the movement of people, the sole purpose of which is to prevent migrants from reaching Europe. Returns by the national border guards or Frontex violate international law and must be sanctioned and subject to careful monitoring by an independent body. Humanitarian aid for refugees outside the European Union is part of our global responsibility as part of sustainable development. While providing aid outside Europe, the EU itself must grow as a responsible and humane actor and overcome the attitude of wanting to keep those seeking refuge away at all costs.
The current EU asylum system does not guarantee protection for all those who need it. EU asylum policy must be reformed better to respect the principles of human rights and humanitarian protection. The current system is based on the Geneva Refugee Convention and currently requires proof that an individual has a well-founded fear of persecution on specific grounds. Instead of weakening the right to seek asylum, we must strengthen it. Humanitarian visas allow us to offer protection to those who need it and create legal routes to enter Europe safely.
- Frontex operations and agency must be under parliamentary control. Respect for fundamental and human rights must be systematically monitored in the context of the agency’s activities and operations.
- A European, coordinated, and Union-funded maritime rescue system must be created for Frontex.
- The EU asylum system must be reformed so that the registration of asylum seekers and the asylum process take place within the EU or at its external borders in a way that respects human rights and the legal protection of the applicant. The process must be straightforward and proceed without delay from submitting the application to any appeal process.
- The EU must ensure the fairness of the process and guarantee that political fluctuations in Member States do not prevent the right to seek asylum in them.
- Humanitarian visas will be introduced in all EU Member States.
- Resourcing European embassies to process applications so that visa waiting times are reduced. Streamline visa processes by strengthening cooperation between embassies and different EU countries. Promote the possibility to apply for visas remotely.
- Restitution agreements must not be conditional on other policies, such as development cooperation policies.
- Free movement and access to employment within the EU for beneficiaries of international protection must be guaranteed in a way that is genuinely comparable to that of EU citizens.
- EU countries should jointly fund intra-EU refugee camps to safeguard human life and prevent human rights violations. The EU should not establish refugee camps in countries with a risk for human rights violations. When necessary, asylum seekers must be moved between EU countries during the process to avoid problems.
- Promote legal entry quotas, mobility partnerships, and access for students to study at EU universities.
European economy, well-being, and education
The economy is not the end of politics, but a means to increase well-being and happiness, protect the environment and stop climate change. The economy is constrained by the carrying capacity of the planet. Inequality and rising material consumption are correctable mistakes, while circular economy and halting the climate crisis present immense opportunities. The European Union has a key role in supporting the ecological and social transition of the economy, developing skills and education, and setting minimum standards for the environment and human well-being.
Europe’s economy needs investments for the future and a green transformation. The post-pandemic recovery plan is necessary but insufficient. It must be part of a broader process of making national economies and societies more sustainable while ensuring that businesses and communities remain viable as we emerge from the acute crisis. Joint loans and the use of the Union’s resources to cover loans will support this transition, especially as these resources will be collected by taxing activities that are harmful to the environment and society in the form of environmental and financial transaction taxes.
In this structural change, it is easier to renew technological projects or food production and repair the damage caused by the crisis than to repair the social and health damage in the worst-hit service and cultural sectors and society. Failure, especially in combatting mental health issues, will create major immediate threats to Europe’s internal security, well-being, and political stability. A failed recovery plan that does not take into consideration human welfare will also create additional costs in terms of reduced health, work capacity, and inclusion of citizens and will put lives at risk. Supporting underperforming regions through Structural Funds is essential to reverse the trend of inequality and to support a fair transition.
The European Union’s resources
The Union’s financial management will stabilise its finances and free the EU from member states’ sometimes capricious desire to pay their membership dues. EU’s own resources can bring much-needed flexibility to the Multi-annual Financial Framework. The pandemic has shown that strengthening resilience also requires funds to respond to unforeseen events. The Union must be able to levy environmental taxes, the amount of which individual Member States can influence by improving the state of their environment. Financial market tax-type solutions for cross-border activities are also natural ways for the Union to levy taxes.
Regulation of the internal market
The European single market is successful because we have been able to set the quality standards high in the face of global competition. This is reflected in consumer products that are more environmentally friendly and healthy than before.
The EU has high standards when it comes to social conditions of production and product safety. These high-quality criteria need to be extended and developed and applied to the rapidly developing and growing platform economy so that it bears the same social and societal responsibilities as other companies and does not gain an unfair competitive advantage by avoiding them. This will give businesses the ability and the incentive to innovate and reinvent, to grow, and make an impact on global markets, which in turn will benefit from Europe’s high-quality standards.
Economic and fiscal policies are pan-European. It must be possible to limit market access for products harmful to the climate and the environment. Protecting strategically critical infrastructure, defending important production chains, and an active trade policy favouring fair international competition and free trade must be our common goals. Joint European investments in climate protection, research, and ensuring future prosperity are necessary. The economic policy of the future requires a common goal: the EU must become the world’s first carbon-negative economic area. This will ensure that the EU remains a prosperous place to produce and operate well into the future, attractive to industry and business, with high levels of manufacturing, effective and efficient support systems as well as well-paid and fair jobs.
Education, research, and learning
Erasmus+ is one of the European Union’s greatest successes. It has allowed more than 9 million participants to study and learn in another European country. This tremendous mobility, integration, and learning project is an example of what the EU can achieve at its best.
There have also been developments in the commonality of European education. The introduction of the ECTS credit system has, despite some difficulties, made it possible to compare the international workload of studies, thus increasing transparency and predictability in learning.
Cross-border education projects are needed to increase understanding and combat racism. European culture, education, and science have always been cross-border, diverse, and discursive processes, and this development must be fostered in the future.
The European Union’s research framework programmes have been an important addition to science and research funding and the Structural Funds to development cooperation. The orientation of the programmes towards research on low-carbon energy and energy saving as well as on small and medium-sized enterprises has been a green achievement. There is a need to continue to expand the programmes while improving the attractiveness and effectiveness of research funding, ensuring the free and open nature of supported science, and streamlining administration.
Economic and social benefits of mobility
Europe’s economy and activity have always benefited from the ability of people to move around, and the free movement of people within the Union is one of the pillars of the EU. Even before Finland became independent, the success stories of people from other countries were interwoven into Finland’s history. Everyone must genuinely be able to work and settle wherever they want within the EU if free movement is to become a reality. People from outside the EU must also be welcomed to participate in European industry on the same terms as those born in the EU.
- Enact a common EU law on corporate responsibility.
- Deciding on a common, comprehensive EU tax regime to tax added value where the turnover is generated.
- European tax systems need to be better regulated to correct anomalies, prevent tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning, and ensure shared responsibility between the wealthy and big businesses.
- Tax evasion and tax havens must be tackled, for example, through an effective definition of tax evasion and tax havens, country-by-country reporting, and automatic exchange of information.
- Create a common budget for the euro area as well as common bonds.
- Giving the EU the right to collect taxes and thus enable its resources to finance its activities. EU taxation should not be based on protection taxes alone.
- An EU-wide guarantee for early childhood care and education, covering high-quality, affordable childcare and the necessary services for children and their parents, and enabling families to combine family life and work.
- Promote a more equal distribution of parental leave across Europe.
- Introducing a pan-European basic income to complement national social security systems.
- Improve the energy self-sufficiency of the Union and its Member States. Energy solutions must be low-carbon and respect biodiversity.
- Expanding Erasmus+ and similar programmes for pupils, students, teachers, researchers, and programmes for students from outside the EU.
- Doubling EU research and innovation funding by restructuring the budget. Simplifying the application procedures for European research funding so that universities can also make better use of it.
- The EU’s existing guidelines for tackling violations of fundamental rights, such as academic freedom, are to be strengthened.
- The EU should support university research, development, and innovation projects that seek solutions to reduce emissions and promote sustainable lifestyles and structures.
- Establish transparency and openness rules that strengthen the rights of those working through platforms, those providing services, and consumers to guide fair development of the platform economy and require interoperability between platforms with significant market power to increase competition.
- The infrastructure for the distribution of royalties should be developed so that cultural producers benefit more from the licensing of their works.
Global cooperation for sustainability and global justice
Confronting transnational threats and ensuring human security in both digital and physical environments require effective multilateral decision-making and international cooperation. The Union must use its strong and united voice. We can build peace, development, and justice through international collaboration while protecting the environment and people.
As a state and through its communities, citizens, and markets, Finland is increasingly part of a global system where we can best promote our well-being and security through proactive international cooperation. This is why a small country like Finland can best make its voice heard as part of the European Union.
The existence of multilateral decision-making cannot be taken for granted. Great powers such as Russia and China have sought to increase their influence and soften the EU’s stance by favouring bilateral relations with EU Member States. This preference for bilateral relations leaves countries the size of Finland out of the decision-making process and undermines the relevance of the international community. It both increases the potential for the use of force by the great powers and reduces the ability of the international community to influence and sanction violent or otherwise harmful actions.
Leadership as a facilitator of multilateral decision-making is inherent to the European Union, but the symbolism of multilateralism and pro-human rights rhetoric is not enough. Our Union itself must pursue human rights-based and fair policies. International cooperation in the pursuit of peace, security, and sustainable development must be the main objective of foreign policy.
Making people’s comprehensive security a priority
Security is part of people’s daily lives. Security cannot be built or guaranteed primarily by military force, as many of the most significant threats are not military in nature. The climate crisis and the forced migration it causes, pandemics, fragile states, weak democratisation, inequality, and polarisation of societies pose severe challenges to the security of individuals and communities.
Multiple security threats require a more holistic understanding of security to strengthen the resilience of societies. As we learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, the interdependencies of the global world can have unexpected effects that we must be able to anticipate effectively and respond to swiftly. Many of the problems in the security environment are transnational and therefore need to be addressed at an international level.
In matters of peace and security, international law is best promoted through close cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union. In addition to existing cross-sectoral collaboration, the EU must also increase its decision-making power in the UN by seeking permanent membership of the Security Council.
The EU’s common security and defence policy must aim both at military defence of the Union’s territory and promoting peace and security in the neighbouring regions. The EU’s common defence policy will be developed further by strengthening the Union’s autonomy, harmonising defence systems, and reducing duplication of effort. The significance of the mutual assistance clause (Article 42.7) of the Lisbon Treaty should be clarified and incorporated into the structures of EU defence policy.
The EU’s military and civilian crisis management operations are key instruments for promoting peace and human rights, international accountability, and platforms for developing the EU’s defence.
In addition to the Member States’ own forces, the availability of EU combat units in crisis management operations must be improved by reforming their structures and the burden-sharing of the financial base. In all EU crisis management, peace and human rights must remain at the centre, priority must be given to strengthening societies and development, and the EU’s wide range of instruments must be utilised to support the development of partner countries, also in the long term.
The development of EU defence policy must not be allowed to further accelerate the arms race, which weakens overall security, pollutes, and consumes the planet’s limited resources to build prosperity. We must ensure that human rights and a holistic understanding of security are not subordinated to the lobbyists of the war industry. The arms and war industry must not be developed into an industry on which our societies depend on for employment or livelihoods because it has led to Europe turning a blind eye to human rights violations and war crimes associated with the arms trade, for example in the Middle East.
The rule of law creates security and must therefore be respected by all EU countries. In addition, the EU can strengthen security by building alliances with democratic states and systematically demanding that authoritarian states respect human rights and democratise their systems. The EU should also cooperate with emerging countries in the context of cross-sectoral development. These areas of cooperation could include education, research, food production, mutual trade, health care, and the application of technology in green restructuring. We Europeans have a great responsibility and obligation here, as we continue to use a disproportionate share of the world’s resources and grab them from others. This leaves marginalised, less powerful countries and regions, in an increasingly difficult position in terms of development, for example in adapting to climate change.
A proactive and forward-looking climate policy will strengthen the resilience of the Union and its Member States, as well as its external actions and trade policy. In return for access to the EU’s internal market, the Union must demand a more ambitious commitment to sustainable development goals from its trading partners. With higher standards of human and environmental protection, we can make entire industries more sustainable and thus positively impact the competitiveness of European companies. The Union’s trade policy must work in the same direction as the development policy objectives of our partnerships. This is achieved by ensuring the development of key sectors of the partner countries’ economies through asymmetric rules in their favour and by providing knowledge and technology to underdeveloped countries.
- Adopting a feminist and anti-racist foreign policy that identifies and corrects sexist and racist structural discrimination, violence, and injustice-induced exclusion. This includes supporting women’s education, economic and social empowerment, sexual or health-related self-determination, etc. However, feminist foreign policy is not only focused or based on gender or minority status but is based on a broad concept of justice.
- The UN Security Council resolutions on “Women, Peace and Security” and “Youth, Peace and Security” must become central to EU mediation projects.
- Require EU Member States to increase the share of development contributions to 0.7% of GNI, in line with the UN recommendation, while at the same time aiming to strengthen the self-reliance of partner regions and communities and their ability to cope in a world of climate change.
- Increase the EU’s direct influence on armed violence prevention and international crisis management by gaining permanent representation in the UN Security Council.
- Removing the right of veto for member states on the EU’s common foreign and security policy.
- Actively promote nuclear disarmament and encourage and support the EU Member States to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
- The EU’s crisis management prioritises soft power and civilian crisis management to strengthen and stabilise societies when the situation calms down, also through other partnership activities. When necessary, military crisis management will be used in a prudent and long-term manner.
- Increasing transparency in the development of EU-funded military capabilities and technologies.
- Developing the EU’s independent defence and crisis management capabilities through permanent structured cooperation to create a platform for mutual assistance exercises under Article 42.7.
- The arms race must be dismantled by investing in disarmament processes and promoting arms prohibition and arms control treaties.
- Transferring control of EU arms exports to EU level to prevent Member States from exporting arms to conflict zones or countries with a poor human rights record or a lack of respect for the rule of law.
- Call on the Commission to strengthen its policy on promoting environmental and social rights in trade negotiations. Independent bodies should monitor the implementation of sustainable development, and sanctions should be imposed for infringements. If necessary, the EU must be prepared to impose import bans on unethically produced products and economic sanctions, including on important trading partners.
- International companies or investors should not be given investment protection in treaties that allow them to gain profits at the expense of countries with more responsible laws. The principle outlined in the CETA negotiations is to avoid agreements that force compensation for enacting and complying with more responsible standards. This principle must be maintained in future trade negotiations.
- Secure Europe’s digital security of supply by building common capabilities to recover from cyber-attacks or disasters such as solar storms.
Closing words: A European Union that is resistant to crises, secure, and able to learn from its mistakes
The ability to withstand crises and overcome significant development challenges depends not only on the economy, technology, and effective global cooperation but also on citizens’ shared experience of justice and inclusion. Just societies with a strong experience of internal security have the strength and resilience to implement major structural changes, such as a fair transition to a green economy.
The most critical factor in strengthening the EU’s resilience in times of crisis is our citizens’ confidence in us looking after each other and enhancing prosperity for all groups so that no one is excluded from society.
The experience of justice and inclusion in society gives us the strength to withstand great external and internal trials and strengthens our confidence in shared decision-making – it also supports cooperation that builds shared security and prosperity, also in the long term. As trust and a sense of security erode, discrimination, hate speech, and racism against minorities can grow into violent extremism, posing long-term and multi-faceted challenges to internal security.
The vast majority of internal security challenges are in some way linked to problems of EU decision-making and policies. Policymaking has not always been able to keep pace with changes in markets, businesses and labour markets and has not been able to respond proactively to the erosion of the funding base for public services, for example. When regulation lags behind and austerity or tax cuts are called for, a disaster is at hand. The resulting human malaise will be channelled into extremism if other actors cannot respond to combatting socio-economic insecurity. The most important way to improve internal security and combat extremist nationalist, racist and chauvinist violence is therefore to take care of both a functioning democracy and citizens proactively. Thus, EU Member States must proactively strengthen the independence of their judiciaries and the resilience of their political systems against authoritarian movements that undermine the rule of law.
For Finland, joining the European Union was a border crossing tool for cooperation, thinking, and identity. Young Europeans, in particular, have contributed extensively to building a new, more open-minded Europe, for example through student and trainee exchanges, common labour market experiences, and cross-border friendships and families.
While the European Union offers many solutions and cooperation to the world and moves forward with a fair transition to green restructuring, it has a heavy history. National, over-generational war traumas and nation-state thinking, inspired by wartime, still define the policies of EU Member States, creating unnecessary confrontation. These challenges can nevertheless be overcome by increasing security and well-being through cross-border cooperation.
The EU can only succeed as a community of peace. By forgetting this role, it will wither – and with it the European welfare states. Finland is not an island: our future depends on how we can build a better Europe. Ensuring human dignity, social well-being of our citizens, and a sustainable environment must be at the heart of the European Union. Our goal is a functioning and stable European welfare society whose citizens look forward together – and responsibly also outwards.