We are opening a new and important phase in the accession negotiations. With the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty, we are now negotiating to become a Member of the Union established by that Treaty, in accordance with Article O of the Treaty.
This brings us new challenges. In order to respond to these challenges we are prepared to participate in the development of the Union of independent and sovereign states having freely decided to exercise in common some of their competences.
The European Council ten days ago laid down guidelines that are important with a view to these negotiations. We welcome the
expression of a clear political will in support of enlargement. A firm time-frame was set, which we hope will lead to an early
conclusion of the negotiations.
We agree with these conclusions of the European Council. At the same time we have to recognize that the time-frame is an
ambitious one. The whole negotiation process is to be completed by the end of February.
To achieve this, we should together establish a programme for our further work. All the issues that have so far been opened for
negotiations and the new Chapters opened today should be ready before the end of the year, any exceptions being limited to one or
two at most. Chapters not yet opened for negotiations should be opened in the very near future.
Before going to the new chapters of the Maastricht Treaty, I wish to recall once more our concern relating to the agricultural Chapter.
In view of the accession it is of utmost importance that solutions will be found which will make it possible to achieve the objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy - as defined in the treaty of Rome - also in Finland. The achievement of these common objectives in our climatic and geographical conditions is not self-evident and to our understanding cannot happen without certain specific measures. A satisfactory solution in agriculture is needed especially from the viewpoint of regional development to safeguard the viability of our large rural areas.
I also would like to emphasize that a satisfactory solution in this sector is necessary for the succesful conclusion of the negotiations and for the acceptance of the result by the Finnish people.
Economic and Monetary Union
We accept the provisions on Economic and Monetary Union in the Maastricht Treaty. We want to participate in the joint efforts aiming at a stable monetary situation and favourable economic development in the Union as a whole.
The economic conditions for participating in the EMU coincide with the economic and financial policy objectives of the Finnish Government. Through its policies, the Government is determined to fulfill these conditions.
We believe that the commitment to the policy objectives of EMU would be beneficial also for achieving our objectives to reduce unemployment.
The technical discussions on the future secondary legislation on the EMU have begun. The planned legislation seems to be unproblematic. We would, therefore, be ready to close this negotiating chapter soon, subject to a technical review of the final package of the secondary legislation.
Foreign and security policy
We also welcome the fact that the chapter on foreign and security policy has now been opened.
We have already had several occasions to explain Finland's views on these matters. I wish therefore only to reaffirm that Finland accepts the provisions of the Maastricht Treaty contained in its Title V on a common foreign and security policy. We look forward to actively contributing to its implementation.
In the light of this, I do not find this Chapter to pose problems to Finland, and we are therefore prepared to close it.
Justice and home affairs
We have indicated our acceptance of the provisions concerning the cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs. We have also
stressed our intention to participate actively in this cooperation which we regard as very important.
We do not foresee any major difficulties with regard to the provisions constituting the framework for this cooperation.
It is, however, necessary to revert to the matter when we have had the possibility to study the relevant acquis in its entirety.
Citizenship of the Union and Social Policy
There are also other new elements in the Union Treaty which deserve our closest attention, among them the citizenship of the Union and the intensified cooperation in the field of social policy. While stressing the importance of these items we do not consider them
problematic in the negotiations. In fact we are looking forward to the increased cooperation which will complement our national
policies in these fields.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.