Thursday

19th Jul 2018

Finland and Sweden revive debates on NATO membership

Until recently, discussion of possible NATO membership has not been a lively political topic in neutral Finland and Sweden, but Russia's actions in Georgia have encouraged those who back membership to become more vocal.

"We need to reconsider our security policy," said the Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb in an interview with Austria's Die Presse on Saturday (30 August).

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.

... our join as a group

Traditional conflicts are making a comeback in the post-9/11 era - he argued - saying Finland needs to begin to consider NATO membership, that the Georgian conflict has highlighted the UN's problems and the need for a more active security policy.

"The talk about how nothing has changed is inconceivable to me," said the conservative Mr Stubb, who represents the smaller coalition party in the government.

"It makes sense now to take into consideration a NATO bid. The time for a decision in this regard has not come yet, but we need to be flexible and quickly adapt our security policy. This must not take place in slow motion."

In Sweden, the liberal People's Party – a government coalition partner - is also trying to launch a NATO membership debate.

Allan Widman, the party's foreign policy spokesman, championed his country's membership to NATO in an interview with the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

The People's Party has always been in favour of membership, but respected the coalition agreement not to place the topic on the public agenda. This has changed since the Russian invasion of Georgia.

The leader of the Social-Democrat opposition strongly rejects Sweden's NATO bid, however. The Scandinavian country has had a long tradition of being a neutral country, even though neighbours Denmark and Norway are part of the Western security alliance.

Finnish NATO split

In Finland, Mr Stubb was appointed earlier this year as foreign minister, after being a member of the European Parliament for four years. He is a vocal supporter of his country's membership in NATO but promised to be reserved on the issue in his new job, due to internal division within the governing coalition.

The Centre Party lead by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen is split on the issue, as are the Social Democrats. The current president, Social Democrat Tarja Halonen, is a strong opponent of the NATO bid. Her mandate ends in 2012.

Finland has a 1,200 km long border with Russia, something that caused much consternation for Finnish foreign policy during the Cold War.

The country inched closer to NATO in March when it announced its intention to join future operations of the alliance's rapid reaction force. It has developed technical capacities alongside NATO for several years and would be ready to join quickly if the decision was made.

EU urges no-deal Brexit preparation

The EU Commission urged companies, citizens, and member states to prepare in case the UK next March crashes out of the EU without a deal - on the day the new UK Brexit minister arrived in Brussels.

EU 'tax lady' hits Google with record fine

Margrethe Vestager has fined the US tech giant with €4.34bn for abusing its market dominance in mobile operating systems - but assured US president Donald Trump that it is not because she does not like America.

Visual Data

Europe's water quality falls short

Due to pollution, the majority of European rivers, lakes and estuaries fall below the minimum environmental standards, a report by the European Environment Agency reveals.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

EU 'tax lady' hits Google with record fine

Margrethe Vestager has fined the US tech giant with €4.34bn for abusing its market dominance in mobile operating systems - but assured US president Donald Trump that it is not because she does not like America.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  2. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  3. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs
  4. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's 'Stop Soros' law
  5. EU warns Turkey on anti-terror bill
  6. Report: EU secretly scorns UK's Brexit paper
  7. Hungary: UN treaty could 'inspire millions' of migrants
  8. Nato reacts after Trump disparages Montenegro

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us