The European Union is recovering from a period of deep and drawn-out economic and political crises. The economy is growing, unemployment, and the wave of populism and nationalism seems to be abating with the founding Member States reaffirming their commitment to the European Union. While problems continue to beset both the EU and its neighbouring areas, they no longer challenge the very existence of the Union in the same way as just a few years ago. Quite the contrary, external pressures are felt to be propelling the EU towards greater integration. The debate on the EU’s future is gaining momentum also outside Brussels.
The European Commission published a White Paper on the Future of Europe in spring 2017. It was followed by a series of reﬂection papers outlining conceivable trends and their implications for the various policy sectors. Subsequently, the Commission will draft proposals for further progress in response to the feedback received.
The future of the EU is actively debated in the Member States and by different stakeholders. The Confederation of Finnish Industries EK has reviewed the five reﬂection papers issued by the Commission and the debate currently being conducted and arrived at the following views.
For Finland and its businesses, the multi-speed European integration would be challenging. The fate of the Finnish economy is tied to the EU’s single market and its ability to negotiate favourable terms for trade with third countries. Before long, multi-speed integration will aﬀect the functioning of the EU’s single market and its capacity for action outside the Union. The single market will function most efficiently between countries involved in deepening integration in all its aspects.
Therefore, the best option for Finland and Finnish businesses is to remain in the vanguard of integration at the heart of the single market. The bigger the single market and the stronger the negotiating position vis-à-vis third countries, the better for the Finnish economy.