June 12, 2020 / 12:04 PM / 22 days ago

Finland's parliament questions legality of EU recovery plan

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The Finnish parliament’s constitutional committee on Friday queried the legal grounds for the European Union’s proposed 750-billion-euro coronavirus recovery package, urging Finland’s government to be vigilant on the matter.

The panel, which considers the constitutionality of government proposals before their adoption, said the European Commission’s plan represented “qualitatively and for the size of the funding a new kind of element in the functioning” of the EU.

The 27 EU member states will hold tough talks on June 19 on the EU executive’s proposal to raise the unprecedented amount of debt (equivalent to $845 billion) to top up joint spending to 1.1 trillion euros in 2021-27. The package requires the unanimous support of the 27 to be adopted.

One of the major points of dispute is over the proportions of the package to be disbursed as grants or as repayable loans, with a group of fiscally frugal members including Finland wanting the share devoted to loans increased.

“The committee’s understanding is that the arrangement may not necessarily be fully compliant with EU law. The government should ensure there are appropriate legal grounds in EU law for the (recovery plan),” it wrote in a statement.

“The committee believes that Finland’s ability to decide on its own budget should be protected as effectively as possible.”

Last week, the government said it would reject the EU package in its current form but left the door open for further negotiations.

The constitutional committee’s statements are considered binding in the Finnish parliament.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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