Speech at the EPP Congress November 8th 2018.

EU should be the leader of sustainable development

“EPP family members

ladies and gentlemen, 

United we stand, divided we fall. 

Europe can only compete with rest of the world if we work together. To provide credible solutions to the biggest challenges of our time, the EU needs to be united. Europeans expect European solutions to challenges, which no member state can tackle alone. Those include climate change, migration and security.

EPP is the most powerful political force in Europe to drive for stronger and more united EU. In the EU, we must be better at highlighting what unites us instead of what separates us. We need the member states to take more ownership in the European project. Europe must take more responsibility of its own destiny.

Next year, I expect the new Commission to focus even more strongly on sustainable economic growth and on the well-being of Europeans. New growth must come from clean technology, low carbon emissions, and the use of sustainable and renewable materials. We should set the EU Climate Policy Headline Target to fifty percent instead of forty percent. Sustainability is not an obstacle, but an opportunity! Finland is one the first countries in the world to integrate sustainable development into its annual budget.

We should add sustainable development budgeting to the EU budget as well. 

It is estimated that millions of jobs could be lost to artificial intelligence. However, technology does not need to work against us. EU can lead the digital revolution by strengthening skills and raising the level of education. Education is a way to fight poverty and lack of prospects. Education is the foundation of Europe’s welfare societies. I am fully aware that education and skills are in the competence of EU member states. We still have to recognize that education plays a major part in the overall competitiveness of the EU. 

Finland strongly supports the recent decisions to develop European defense cooperation. How could we take it even further?  The mutual assistance clause of the Lisbon Treaty has been activated once. It was after the two thousand-fifteen terrorist attacks in France. Finland and others were ready to help. I think we should further develop our abilities to assist each other. A practical way would be to organize joint exercises. Member states would practice the use of mutual assistance clause in different situations from hybrid activities to conventional military operations against one or several member states. Joint exercises can serve as means to find weaknesses, to develop processes and to increase EU’s credibility as a security entity.

For a long time, many regarded EU defense cooperation overlapping with NATO. Crisis in Ukraine, recent terrorist attacks and hybrid threats have shown that both, the EU and NATO are needed and that they can complement each other. 

As President Juncker has said, the EU should be big on big things and small on small things. I fully agree. EU was founded to provide peace and prosperity for all Europeans. This should still be our most important agenda. 

In Finnish politics, Kokoomus is the party that stands for European integration and the EU. That is why it was so important for us to host the Congress in Helsinki. With this, we show our commitment to EU and our European friends, and EPP to Finnish people. For a small country like Finland, it means a lot that the centre of European politics has been in Helsinki for two days. I am so proud of that.  

With these words, I hope you have enjoyed the Congress in Helsinki and I wish you a safe trip home.”

(Changes possible while speaking)

Picture: The National Coalition Party archives.

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