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The ratification of the Constitutional Treaty by Finnish Parliament looms in the near future

, by Piia Pappinen

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

All the big parties agree on the need for entry into force, as well as the Grand Committee of the parliament.

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Estonian government on its behalf, has stolen the place of Finland, previously dubbed as the “EU-pet child” because of its loyal attitude in enforcing EU-directives.

After announcing that the treaty will be voted in the parliament on the next Europe Day, 9th of May, Estonia is step ahead to the future holder of the EU-presidency.

The committee responsible of EU-issues in the Finnish parliament voted for the ratification of the treaty with 20 votes against 4 in last April. The committee demanded that Finnish parliament should express its willingness to the government in proceeding with the ratification. Minority of the committee claimed that a consultative referendum be arranged on the treaty.

Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta) is going to give its opinion on the need of ratification of the Constitutional Treaty in May this year.

There are doubts in the air whether parliament will arrive in time in announcing their stand on the need of ratification before Finland assumes the presidency. The stand of Finnish parliamentarians in regard of the treaty is overall very pragmatic - they are of the opinion that constitution brings welcomed simplification and clears up the responsibilities between different EU-institutions. Many think that word “Constitution” in the treaty fears people because they automatically associate it with “a tendency towards centralised Brussels-regime”, and hope that the name be changed closer to something similar to “a basic treaty”. The majority of the members of the “EU-committee” hopes government will soon proceed with bill recommending ratifying the Constitution. According to the official stand, Finland holds that the treaty is “an enhancement to the former base of treaties”, and mentions that the opinion taken by parliament “could contribute to creation of a positive climate for the negotiations in the European Council”.

Officially, Finland is preparing the presidency in manner taking into account the possibility that the constitutional treaty might become into force, in order to show support and belief in the re-initialization of the process. Finnish political spheres are split over the ratification issue to optimists, pessimists and realists, some being of the opinion that ratification is useless, since it is improbable to get all of the member states behind the treaty if it not changed. Others believe it is a decisive sign and needed for keeping the ratification process alive, and getting the critical mass behind the project to be kicked-off again.

In the close neighbouring country across the Gulf of Finland, Estonia, parliament began the process of ratifying the EU constitutional treaty in February this year in a first reading. In the Estonian Constitution referendum on international treaties is expressly excluded. The constitutional committee of the Estonian parliament decided to put the EU constitutional treaty to a final vote in the parliament on May 9, the Europe Day.

The Estonian political elite is unified behind the constitution, though at odds with the people, who are in the bottom quarter in what comes to being at ease about EU, some polls say. By announcing their strong support to the ratification of the constitution in its current form, Estonia wants to be in the front guard of progressive EU-member states.

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