Priorities and programme

The priorities for Finland’s Presidency are to strengthen common values and the rule of law, make the EU more competitive and socially inclusive, strengthen the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action and ensure the comprehensive security of its citizens.

You will find the programme on the Presidency website.

Protecting the security of citizens comprehensively

To protect the security of citizens comprehensively, it is essential to strengthen the EU’s internal and external security and its defence cooperation, including measures to counter hybrid threats.

Besides the fight against hybrid threats, the Finnish Presidency will keep the following issues on the agenda: better crisis resilience of society, comprehensive management of migration and better border management, and safeguarding the financing of home affairs in the EU’s long-term budget.

Europe feels the security impact of violence and conflicts taking place in its neighbouring regions and resulting from violations of international law and human rights and the negative impacts of climate change.

It is important for the EU to use all of its external action instruments, such as diplomacy, crisis management operations, trade policy and development aid, in a comprehensive and coherent manner. The EU must champion multilateral solutions and step up its contribution to conflict prevention and mediation, with a special focus on the valuable roles which can be played by women and young people.

To protect Europe, we need to harness the instruments we already have and prepare together for the potential threats of tomorrow.

The EU has a key role in promoting a comprehensive approach to security in Europe. By combating cross-border crime and terrorism, and by efficient border management, the EU and its Member States can make the EU a safer place to live. This calls for a reduction in inequalities. The overall internal security of the EU should be approached on a broad front, combining crime prevention with law-enforcement cooperation, judicial cooperation, border management, civil protection and other relevant sectors.

The EU Internal Security Strategy has provided a sustainable framework for concrete cooperation. Now is the time to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. We need to identify possible threats to internal security in order to strengthen our response, keeping in mind the ever stronger nexus between internal and external security.

Building resilience to hybrid and cyber threats

The Member States and institutions continue to face multidimensional hybrid threats designed to be difficult to detect and attribute. We must be prepared for the long-term challenge of rapidly changing hybrid threats.

Hybrid threats are a combination of various conventional and unconventional activities and tools used in a coordinated manner by state or non-state actors to achieve specific political objectives. These hybrid activities, such as cyber attacks, election interference and disinformation campaigns, aim to influence our policy-making, weaken our societies and undermine the unity of the EU.

In this context, we will place special emphasis on strengthening the EU’s capabilities in countering hybrid threats and building resilience at the level of both the EU and the Member States. We need to act together in a structured and coordinated way in order to tackle these challenges.

It is important to ensure that we have the right kind of organisational structure in order to fulfil the policy objectives set by the European Council. Together, we need to further develop institutional mechanisms and tools. It is also essential to continue developing partnerships, especially EU-NATO cooperation. The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats plays a central role in fostering cooperation on hybrid threats.

To develop our awareness of and resilience to hybrid threats, the Finnish Presidency will organise scenario-based policy discussions at different levels.

Maintaining a high level of cybersecurity is vital for the security of citizens, businesses and Member States and for the functioning of the EU as a whole. The adoption of 5G technology brings tremendous new opportunities, but also requires a new emphasis on cybersecurity. In order to enhance the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure, EU common action is also needed. The closely intertwined economies of Member States benefit from common measures that aim at a higher level of cybersecurity. We will promote cybersecurity knowledge and capacities. The EU must also fight against attempts to exert hostile influence, prevent conflicts, reduce cybersecurity risks and promote stability in international relations.

Comprehensive management of migration

Migration is a global phenomenon. To manage migration effectively, we need a comprehensive approach that takes into account both internal and external dimensions. The European Union with its wide range of tools and strong international role is clearly better equipped to address migration than a Member State alone.

The human rights-based asylum and migration policies are rooted in international treaties and conventions, cooperation between public authorities and effective control of the EU’s external borders, as well as appropriate and swift asylum procedures that are of a high standard in terms of legal protection.

Adopting the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) as a package would have been the most effective EU-level outcome, but despite strong common efforts, the package has turned out to be unachievable. One way out of the impasse could be to adopt, one at a time, proposals on which agreement can be found. In this way, the EU could take vital steps forward in managing migration and delivering concrete results.

Resettlement has been one of the most effective ways to help those in the most vulnerable position in migration crises. By establishing an EU-wide resettlement system with sufficient financial incentives, the EU could create a more controlled way to ease migration pressures that would also demonstrate solidarity towards countries receiving large numbers of migrants.

There has been no progress in establishing the controlled centres within the EU referred to in European Council conclusions. A more immediately beneficial initiative would be to establish a temporary relocation mechanism for migrants rescued at sea. Such a mechanism could help solve challenges related to internal relocation within the EU, which so far have been tackled case by case.

As part of the comprehensive approach and the securing of the Schengen area, there is a need to closely monitor migration routes and maintain situational awareness. It is crucial to remain vigilant in regard to all current and new routes towards Europe.

To make return policy effective and sustainable, the EU must use all means at its disposal, including positive and negative incentives in trade, development and visa policy. We need to direct more effort and resources to the reintegration of returned migrants.

Finland’s Presidency will seek to finalise the Council negotiations on the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) in autumn 2019. Multiannual financial framework for 2021–2027 is implementing the EU’s priorities. Managing migration requires a comprehensive approach. By ensuring sufficient funding and using different MFF headings, it will be possible to respond as effectively as possible both to internal and external dimensions of migration.

Strengthening the European Border and Coast Guard Agency

Strengthening the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will help Member States to better control their borders and make the return of illegal immigrants more effective. The Agency therefore has a key role to play in securing both the Schengen area and the free movement of people.