The EU leaders meeting at the European Council held on 15-16 October in Brussels expressed their concern about the status of the negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
The first Finnish minister, Sanna Marin, left the meeting prematurely after learning of her possible exposure to the coronavirus the day before in Helsinki.
In the EU leaders’ view, progress has not been sufficient in the negotiations with the UK on issues of key importance for the EU. However, the EU is continuing to work towards reaching an agreement and establishing as close a partnership as possible with the UK, and calls on the UK to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible, the Finnish government explained.
As regards the Internal Market Bill tabled by the UK Government, the European Council recalled the need for the full and timely implementation of the withdrawal agreement previously concluded between the EU and the UK. The EU leaders also urged member states, institutions and stakeholders to prepare for the possibility that no agreement will be reached on the future relationship.
The transition period will end on 31 December and the future partnership is due to begin on 1 January 2021.
The European Council also stated that the EU needs to increase its level of ambition in order to achieve the target of climate neutrality by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement. The EU leaders discussed the Commission’s communication proposing an emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030 compared to the levels of 1990.
Finland is one of the eleven countries that issued a joint statement in support of the Commission’s proposal on the eve of the European Council. At the moment, the EU is committed to reducing its emissions at least 40% by 2030. The European Council will return to this issue at its December meeting.
The EU leaders also assessed the epidemiological situation with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic. They noted that good progress had been made at the EU level, for example in coordinating restrictions on movement and developing vaccines.
The European Council also noted the importance of strengthening the EU’s strategic relations with Africa and its partnership with the African Union on the basis of shared interests.
Finland stressed that the partnership must be equal and that supporting the green and digital transition in Africa is also in Europe’s interest.