Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will implement Finland’s Presidency Programme as part of the Finnish Government. The priorities for Finland’s Presidency are: 1) to strengthen common values and the rule of law; 2) to make the EU more competitive and socially inclusive; 3) to strengthen the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action; and 4) to protect the security of citizens comprehensively.

The Programme discusses a number of themes relevant for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, including trade policy, development policy, security, enlargement, financing of external action, and reinforcing the EU’s external action overall.

Africa and the Arctic region

Strengthening the EU’s external capabilities and achieving more consistent action in security, trade and development policies have direct links to the EU’s role as an advocate for the rules-based international system and for rules-based world trade.

The EU has a special responsibility for its neighbourhood and neighbouring areas, including the Arctic region. There is a need for comprehensive partnerships with Africa and other regions to promote economic growth and to respond to global threats and challenges. The EU’s enlargement policy is an investment in peace, stability and development in Europe.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has highlighted the importance of two regions, Africa and the Arctic region. The Ministry promotes value-based foreign policy that takes into account climate change, human rights and equality issues.

Foreign policy and country branding

The European External Action Service has changed the way the Ministry for Foreign Affairs works during Finland’s Presidency. The difference between Finland’s two previous presidencies and this presidency is that now foreign and security policy is headed by the EU’s High Representative, instead of the country holding the Council presidency. We will support the High Representative in promoting EU external relations.

The focus of Finland’s Presidency is in Brussels, which means that our Permanent Representation to the EU plays a lead role. The Presidency will be visible even in Finland’s other missions abroad through sustainability and climate action and country branding, among other measures.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will organise an Informal Meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs (Gymnich) in August as well as ‘A Clean and Global North – High-Level Event on Regional Cooperation in the North’ in November.

All meeting arrangements in and outside Finland will highlight sustainability and non-material values: Finland is convinced that a successful presidency can have a small carbon footprint. We have also decided that instead of handing out gifts to delegates, we will give a gift to the climate by using the gifts budget of EUR 500,000 to offset emissions from air travel.

Finland’s Presidency @EU2019FI