FINNISH OPPOSITION, FARMERS DECRY ‘UNJUST’ EU BUDGET DEAL
Opposition parties in Finland have criticized the EU budget deal and coronavirus recovery plan that will see some 1.8 billion euros spent over the next seven years, the Finnish Yle news agency reported late on July 21, 2020.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Tuesday that Finland had achieved what it set out to, with a total of 500 million euros allocated for agricultural subsidies and development of the north and east of the country.
Opposition politicians, however, latched on to the fact that Finland — unlike the so-called 'frugal four' of Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria who had most fiercely resisted the recovery plan — did not get any rebate on its EU membership fees. "For example the small net contributors to the EU budget, the so-called 'frugal four', increased their own rebates and benefited from the negotiations in a concrete way," said Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho. "Finland's end result in these talks is that Finland gets to pay more. It is difficult to see that Finland got anything from these talks, economically or politically."
Finland's EU membership fees are themselves lower than those four countries, so it is likely to contribute less to the budget over the next accounting period than them even counting the rebates. Austria managed to secure extra agricultural subsidies alongside its rebate, but the total impact is difficult to assess, according to farmers' union (MTK) boss Juha Marttila. "You can ask whether Austria was a little bit more successful," said Marttila. "But this is maybe pointless speculation. The most important thing is that funding continues and in agriculture we get more back per euro that we pay in."