Government formation is underway in Finland. But political journos whisper loudly that Juha Sipilä, the future prime minister of Finland, has fallen out with his potential coalition partners, the Perussuomalaiset Party.
At least temporarily. Ostensibly the reason is what the Perussuomalaiset have said they would like to do to the EU if they were in government.
What the Perussuomalaiset are saying is that Finland would be an active member of the European Union, which would work together with other member states to make the EU ‘lighter and looser’. In this way the union would be able to promote peace, strengthen security, employment and enhance the well being of all Europeans.
What they propose is constructive criticism. Translated into Thatcherite English: what they say is that the EU is not working (remember the 1979 election slogan).
So we must face the facts: the era of a unified Europe is over. Not all member states are following the same path towards ever closer union. The Perussuomalaiset supports the UK and the Netherlands (sic) in their aspiration to make the EU ‘lighter’.
What then follows is standard Conservative/UKIP discourse: the EU’s budget should be frozen and Finland should have a similar membership fee rebate as the UK has (well, that is probably not Her Majesty’s Government’s view). Brussels bureaucracy should be reduced, as well as its costs.
Any talk of a social Europe should be given up for good. And there should be no new liabilities for Finland for handling the euro crisis. The EU should in any case revert back to the no bailout rule, and therefore honour the obligations of the Maastricht Treaty.
Come again, the Maastricht Treaty? The last point is interesting, since committing oneself to the fullfillment of the Maastricht Treaty is usually not considered to be compatible with being a legitimate euro-sceptic party in those circles.
So where is the disagreement with Juha Sipilä and Timo Soini, the Perussuomalaiset Party’s leader? Not having any more of social Europe? With a lighter and looser EU? Reduced bureaucracy in Brussels? No more liabilities for Finland in eurocrisismanagement?
As Sipilä has already made his post-election eurosceptic views clear, it is hard to see from the published materials where these two parties part company on Europe.
The Prime Minister elect will undoubtedly clarify that at some point. And anyone with any appreciation of Finland’s course in the EU for the last 20 years will continue holding their breaths.