Embed from Getty Images

BRUSSELS—In negotiations on the European Union’s massive spending package to fight the downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Finland reached many of its objectives.

The leaders of 27 EU states agreed on a €1,074 billion budget for 2021–2027 and on top of that a €750 billion recovery fund.

On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) said after the four-day negotiations on Twitter that they had “guaranteed development funding for rural areas” in Finland by negotiating 400 million euros more to the previous budget. “For the first time, Finland also received a separate 100-million-euro extra funding for the northern and eastern areas in Finland that are scarcely inhabited,” Marin said.

In total, Finland estimated to receive €3.2 million from the recovery fund and estimated to pay a total of €6.6 million between 2021–2058.

In the negotiations, Finland was part of the so-called frugal states with the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark that insisted that aid to Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean countries—countries struck most by the coronavirus pandemic—should be mainly in loans. Non-repayable grants were not an option for the frugal states in accordance with the EU’s policy in crisis handling where it normally prefers loans over grants and demands economic reforms in return.

In a compromise result, the European Commission will borrow €750 billion using its triple-A debt rating and disbursing €390 billion in grants (Finland insisted on a maximum of €375 billion in grants) and €360 billion in loans.

Marin said on Twitter that “one-third of all funding must be used to climate action” and that “subsidies for research will grow by one-fourth when compared with the current funding.” This, according to Marin, “is the sustainable way forward.”

Picture on the front page: Prime Minister Sanna Marin at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in February 2020. Photograph: Bernhard Ludewig

Tony Öhberg