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24th Jan 2021

Finnish PM to unveil EU constitution research at summit

  • Mr Vanhanen will report on the consultations when EU leaders meet in Brussels 14-15 December (Photo: European Community, 2006)

Finland has during its EU presidency quietly attempted to create a basis for breaking the EU's constitutional deadlock, with its prime minister Matti Vanhahen due to present a "summary" of Helsinki's findings at the EU leaders' summit on 14-15 December.

The spokeswoman of Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen told EUobserver that Helsinki had been holding "confessionals at the ministerial level" with all EU capitals on the fate of the EU constitution, which was rejected by French and Dutch voters last year.

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"At the summit, the prime minister will hold an oral explanation and present a summary of what has been found out," she said, adding that Helsinki is not planning to submit a written report on the issue.

"We wanted to make an assessment, mainly as preparatory work for the German presidency," she added, with Germany taking over the EU helm from Finland on 1 January.

The "confessionals" have covered both the content of the constitution and possible procedures to revive it, she indicated.

Another Finnish official said "this could be a useful step in keeping the constitutional process alive," adding that the upcoming German presidency had "not been involved" directly but that Berlin is aware of Helsinki's behind-the-scenes work.

The majority of member states has already been consulted, with Helsinki currently seeking the last few comments from outstanding countries.

The remarks from Helsinki confirm a report in Finnish newspaper Kaleva on Monday (27 November), which first revealed news of the EU presidency's quiet stocktaking exercise.

The EU constitution, which proposes modifications to the EU's inner workings and decision-making processes, was approved in 2004, but was shelved after failed referendums in France and the Netherlands last year, leading to a "period of reflection" on the fate of the charter.

The fact that the constitution will now figure on the agenda of next month's EU summit gives new political impetus to the constitutional debate, which many observers believed would get into full swing only at the end of the German presidency.

Berlin has been tasked to present a roadmap towards a new EU treaty to be adopted by EU leaders in June 2007, which should lead to an institutional consensus under the French presidency in the second half of 2008.

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