Monday

25th Mar 2019

Finnish islands cause headache for EU treaty approval

The Finnish autonomous Aland Islands are causing headaches for the Finnish government by demanding certain concessions from Helsinki in return for ratifying the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

The local government in the capital Mariehamn has said it will ratify the bloc's latest institutional rule book only if it gets the nod for four demands, with the vote in the Aland 30-member strong parliament expected in the autumn.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The 27,000 Alanders have had their own flag since 1954 (Photo: Wikipedia)

The minister responsible for the islands, former MEP Astrid Thors, visited Aland on Monday (11 August) but only offered some good news on one of the demands - Aland will get some sort of speaking rights within the EU.

She did not offer any concessions on Aland's request for a seat in the European Parliament or participation in the council of ministers' work (where EU member states are represented) on a role in controlling "subsidiarity," the EU principle that power should, where possible, be used a local levels.

But Mrs Thors did promise a special "Aland document" would be drawn up to settle the issue.

"I'm hoping for a historical settlement between Aland and Finland on how we are to handle EU relations and to guarantee Aland positions are considered," said Astrid Thors at a press conference, according to local daily Alandstidningen.

She described the document as "historical" and said it would commit the Finnish government to "listen to Aland's point of view."

Although Finland is able to ratify the Lisbon Treaty without the consent of the Aland parliament, Mrs Thors said that would lead to an "unclear situation."

"Finland must negotiate with the EU on what to do with Aland," a representative of the Finnish ministry of justice, Sten Palmgren, added.

The Aland Islands are situated at the entrance to the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland and forms an autonomous, demilitarized Swedish-speaking province of Finland.

When Finland became a member of the European Union in 1995, Aland's accession was dependent on the consent of the Aland Parliament. After two separate referendums it was agreed that Aland's relationship to the EU would be regulated in a special protocol, which is part of Finland's treaty of accession.

It states that Aland shall be regarded as a third territory with respect to indirect taxation. It also contains certain special provisions relating to the purchase of real property and the right to conduct a business in Aland, and confirms Aland's special status under international law.

EU on path towards whistleblower protection

EU lawmakers and member states have struck a political deal on the first-ever EU-wide directive on whistleblower protection - following years of big tax-evasion revelations and the laundering of dirty money in European banks.

Germany's CDU lukewarm on Macron's EU vision

Germany's anointed new leader has echoed France in calling for EU reform to combat populism - but with a stronger role for national governments and with little prospect of sharing German wealth.

Exclusive

Sefcovic campaign videos feature fellow commissioners

Maros Sefcovic, commission vice-president in charge of Energy Union, is running to be president of Slovakia. Now two of his fellow EU commissioners have endorsed him - raising questions about their independence.

EU college defends Saudi-style visits, attacks 'sloppy' media

College of Europe rector Jorg Monar says the surplus money made from setting up closed-door meetings between the Saudi government and EU officials, including MEPs, "would barely cover the replacement costs of a beamer in a College seminar room."

News in Brief

  1. May admits 'not sufficient support' for third Brexit vote
  2. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  3. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  4. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  5. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  6. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  7. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  8. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us