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EU Council: Rinne (Finland) presenting six-month programme. “States have realized that together we are stronger”

foto SIR/Marco Calvarese

(Strasbourg) “We can now start to build a better future for Europe”: Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said this in his opening remarks at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg this morning, referring to the election of Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission. He commended the gender equality achieved in the EU’s top jobs. And he went on to say: “The foundations of the European Union were laid in a divided continent”; now EU Member “States have come to realise that together we are stronger” and that “unity” is of the essence. Europe is “now the strongest defender of human rights” and this “is a living example of how we can learn from the past”. This is the third rotating presidency for Finland. Many things have changed over the years, but what is still the same is Finland’s “pragmatism” and the useful, continuous “dialogue between the Government and Parliament” on which to build to achieve the ambitious goal of an ever closer, “pragmatic, forward-looking relationship between the EU institutions”. Mr Rinne went on to outline the four priorities of the Finnish presidency: “to strengthen the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action”; “to strengthen common values and the rule of law”; “to make the EU more competitive and socially inclusive”; and “to protect the security of citizens comprehensively”. As regards climate, in order to achieve the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, Finland intends to reach a binding agreement by the end of 2019.

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