Petteri Orpo


Vice President
Secretary General
Members and Friends of Brysselin Kansallisseura

Thank you for this opportunity to speak at the famous BKS gala dinner! BKS is one of the most dynamic member organisations of Kokoomus.

You bring together Brussels based Finns and friends of Finland across party lines. Besides gala dinners, BKS organises high quality seminars like the one this week for Kokoomus 100th anniversary here in Brussels. You are the frontline of Finland and Kokoomus in EU politics. I am so proud of the work you do!

I want to congratulate the new President of BKS, Pete. I wish you all the best! I also want to thank Marketta, for her commitment and work for BKS.

Last year we celebrated Finland’s hundred-year anniversary. Among all of the states of the world, Finland is a unique success story. In the beginning, Finland was a small and poor country, located deep in the North. Today, Finland is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. This year UN named Finland as the happiest country.

Kokoomuksen arvot sivistys, mahdollisuuksien tasa-arvo, työ ja toimeliaisuus, yksilön vapaus, demokratia, oikeusvaltio ja kansainvälisyys, ovat kestäneet koko matkan Suomen itsenäisyyden alusta tähän päivään.

Kokoomus on totta kai kehittynyt ja edistynyt ajattelussaan matkan varrella. Sata vuotta sitten emme saaneet kuningas Väinö ensimmäistä, ja ehkä hyvä niin. 2010-luvulla saimme kuitenkin Sauli Väinämön.

Finland has been a member of the EU for twenty-three years. We have used euro as currency for sixteen years. Over fifty-five thousand Finnish students have been on Erasmus exchange, like Jyrki and many others in this room. Over the past twenty years, we have had over seventy thousand European students on Erasmus exchange in Finland.

Being European and being part of the EU is part of our everyday lives. Finnish people support European integration. We understand that it is impossible for nation states alone to solve today’s complex challenges. Still, it is good to remind ourselves from time to time that the EU membership is so much more.

Finland chose its side when it joined the EU.

We chose the side of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. EU membership was a security choice as much as it was economic choice. The choice was also about common sense.

Our continent faces challenges that cannot be resolved by each state acting alone. None of the EU member states is big enough. We need each other. In recent years, certain member states have undermined the rule of law principle. Finland, Kokoomus and I do not accept this.

Rule of law is one of EU’s core values. If you don’t like our common values, you shouldn’t get the common money either. Fostering the rule of law should be a precondition for receiving EU cohesion funding.

Next spring will be an exciting time for the EU. We will elect a new Parliament and we will choose the new Commission. It is a beginning of a new era. It is crucial to assess what we have achieved so far and reflect on what the EU should focus on next.

Big on big things and small on small things still applies. To me, big things are research and innovation, sustainable growth, security and defence cooperation. Peace and prosperity. To me, small things are strict rules on how farmers should conduct their day-to-day business. Let them decide themselves.

With no doubt, climate change is the biggest challenge of our time. With no doubt, migration has the potential to tear the EU apart. Outside actors would be happy about this, but it is not in the interest of any EU member state. Mitigating climate change and managing migration are the issues, in which the EU needs to deliver.

Global warming is happening even faster than we expected. We should set the EU Climate Policy Headline Target to fifty percent instead of forty percent. The Nordic experience shows that it is possible to reduce emissions and still have healthy economic growth. We should see sustainability as opportunity, not as an obstacle.

Managing migration requires massive measures from the EU and from us, the member states. It means more development cooperation, crisis management, private investment, trade and bilateral cooperation in general.

The EU needs a better common asylum policy. The EU’s external borders must work effectively and securely. The legal ways of entry must be in order. If the EU does not succeed in this, there will be more poverty, conflicts, refugees and radicalisation.

If the EU does not succeed in this, there will be more social unrest in the EU member states.

Europeans support the EU as long as the EU does relevant things. We need to convince Europeans on EU’s ability to deliver on the most critical issues such as climate change and migration.

Next year, Finland will be the President of the EU Council. Finland has to take its presidency ambitiously. EU is not an object of lobbying. We are the EU. Finland would lose most if the EU would weaken. Finland has never been as independent as a member of the EU.

Kokoomus supports the Finnish EU membership as much as we did in the beginning of the nineties. We were the first Finnish party to support Finland’s EU membership. Members of Kokoomus were the key negotiators, when Finland joined the EU.

We want to make the EU stronger and more united. The EU we pursue provides more security and prosperity for its citizens than each member state alone. Kokoomus can take up the Finnish EU presidency and run it ambitiously. We know how to make an influence in the EU. We have the agenda and we have the connections. Kokoomus is the most pro European party in Finland. Of course, we need to have the Prime Minister’s seat to lead Finland’s EU policy. That is what we are going to do. We are going to win the elections next spring. And we will do it by trusting the Finnish people.

Saa tehdä –Suomessa me luotamme suomalaisiin.

Annamme heidän toteuttaa ja kehittää itseään, yrittää ja mennä eteenpäin. Kokoomuksen Suomessa sosiaaliturva kannustaa ottamaan vastaan työtä kaikissa tilanteissa.

Kokoomuksen Suomessa verotetaan enemmän sitä, mikä haittaa meitä, eli saastuttamista ja päästöjä, ja vähemmän sitä, mistä hyvinvointimme kasvaa, eli työtä ja yrittämistä. Kokoomuksen Suomessa työntekijää kannustetaan uudelleen kouluttautumaan ja kehittämään osaamistaan. Kokoomuksen Suomessa työelämä on maailman parasta.

Suomalaisissa on niin paljon potentiaalia, että kun heihin luotetaan ja annetaan tehdä, niin Suomi on paljon enemmän. Me tarvitaan siihen vähemmän sääntelyä, byrokratiaa ja ylhäältä annettuja määräyksiä, enemmän vapautta tehdä ja toteuttaa itseään. Saa tehdä Suomi on parempi Suomi.

Saa tehdä –Suomessa saa mennä ja tulla. Saa kansainvälistyä, saa muuttaa ulkomaille, mutta saa tulla myös takaisin. Kokoomus on puolue, joka sanoo: saa tehdä!

Thank you for this opportunity and I wish you all a great evening. Let’s toast for one hundred years of Kokoomus!

(Puhuttaessa muutokset mahdollisia)


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