This paper aims at demonstrating that Finland’s parliamentary scrutiny of EU matters is particularly efficient and can be a model for other EU Member States. Even though the government is competent to deal with EU matters, the Finnish Parliament (the Eduskunta) is constitutionally empowered to participate in EU policy formulation. Deep involvement in the preparation of national positions on EU matters is consistent with the Eduskunta’s “role as the supreme organ of state”. At the heart of the system laid down in the Constitution and the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure are parliamentary committees, especially the Grand Committee. The Parliament also enjoys the right to receive from the government comprehensive information enabling the Parliament itself to examine EU documents and express its view. As a result, Finland’s constitutional framework requires the government and the Parliament to steadily cooperate on EU matters.
Section A outlines the history of Finland’s relations with the European Union until the Lisbon Treaty was ratified. Section B briefly examines the Constitution of Finland on two counts: the governmental decision making and international relations. With regards to the latter, the President of the Republic and the government cooperate in conducting foreign affairs. Issues concerning the European Union, however, fall within the government’s remit. As noted above, the Finnish Parliament has a prominent role in the formulation of national policy on EU matters. Section C focuses on the Åland Islands, an autonomous region enjoying a special relationship with the European Union. The government of Åland is granted the right to participate in preparing Finnish positions relating to the European Union. Section D deals with the structure and functioning of the Eduskunta and stresses the importance of parliamentary committees. Section E looks more deeply into the Grand Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee. The former analyses all EU matters involving the Parliament’s competence except for those regarding the common foreign and security policy (CFSP). CFSP issues are entrusted to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Section F addresses the Eduskunta’s relation with COSAC. Furthermore, deployment of the IPEX database by the Finnish Parliament is briefly examined. Section G deals with the Parliament controlling proposed EU legislation’s compliance with the principle of subsidiarity. Section H investigates Finland’s approach to the stabilisation and economic governance measures taken to combat the recent financial crisis. By and large, those measures have been considered to be compatible with the Finnish Constitution by the Constitutional Law Committee. […]
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TABLE OF CONTENTS: 1. Introduction. – 2. Finland and the European Union until the Lisbon Treaty (Section A). – 3. The Finnish Constitution (Section B). – 3.1. The overall frame work of decision-making powers. – 3.2. The Constitution and international obligations – 4. The Åland Islands and the EU (Section C). – 5. The Finnish Parliament (the Eduskunta) (Section D). – 6. The Grand Committee (Suuri Valiokunta – SuV) and the Foreign Affairs Committee (Ulkoasiain valiokunta – UaV) of Parliament (Section E). – 7. The Eduskunta’s relation with COSAC and access to the IPEX database (Section F). – 8. The control of subsidiarity (Section G). – 8.1. National Parliaments of the EU member states and the early warning system. – 8.2. The Grand Committee’s scrutiny of subsidiarity. – 9. Finland amid recent stabilisation and economic governance measures (Section H). – 9.1. The confidentiality of recent meetings aimed at tackling the financial crisis. – 9.2. The constitutional Law Committee’s key role in assessing stabilization and economic governance measures. – 10. Conclusion.