Statement by President von der Leyen on Finland’s recovery and resilience plan

(Source: European Commission)

Thank you very much Prime Minister, dear Sanna,

Thank you very much for the warm welcome you gave me and my delegation today. I would like to thank you very much for the fascinating visit here at the VTT, the Technical Research Centre – Finland’s first quantum computer. I have learnt a lot today, so that was really informative. And I think this is a perfect example for far-sighted investment here in Finland. We heard a lot about it, and indeed, we need to strengthen Europe’s technological leadership, and thus create quality jobs that are needed. That is the spirit in which we designed NextGenerationEU, the EUR 800 billion Recovery Fund. It is much more than simple recovery. We are reshaping our continent for decades to come. We are making the Green Deal a reality. We are also accelerating digitalisation in an unprecedented manner.

So I am happy to announce that, today, the European Commission has decided to give its green light to Finland’s recovery and resilience plan. This follows a thorough assessment and an excellent cooperation between our teams. I really want to thank you, Sanna, for this excellent cooperation. It is outstanding. Thank you very much for that. The plan includes reforms and investment. It will further accelerate Finland’s outstanding green and digital transitions.

And I must say, we applaud Finland’s ambitious objective to be carbon neutral by 2035 already. Your recovery and resilience plan will provide an important boost to this important goal. If I look into the plan, half of the plan, Finland’s plan, is devoted to the green transition, to green projects – 50%. This is more than would have been necessary, so you are overshooting the necessary requirements. And this is outstanding. It includes spot on measures in each of the most polluting sectors: such as energy, industry, transport and housing. It will invest – just to give a few examples – in low-carbon hydrogen, in clean energy technologies. It will finance green transport and, very important, roll out charging points along the roads for cars. It will for example replace oil boilers with low- or zero-carbon heating systems. That is investing in the European Green Deal at its best.

The second objective we have in NextGenerationEU is the digital. And Finland is already a leader in the digital transition, in the European Union and in the world. So now, you devote 27% of the plan to support the digital objectives, and this for sure will help Finland to sustain its leading position. The plan will support research in 6G, artificial intelligence, microelectronics, high-speed connectivity. I am very pleased about your plan to connect the rural areas that will benefit from the investment in the digital connectivity and digital rail services for example. I also like very much that the plan will help the public sector to go more digital – this is always needed. And it will equip Finnish workers with the digital skills they need to be ready for the future.

But NextGenerationEU is not only about investments. The Finnish plan also contains a range of crucial reforms. The plan anchors the 2035 carbon neutrality goal into Finnish law. The plan will phase out the use of coal and make Finland’s tax policy greener. In other words, there too, this plan will strengthen Finland’s position as green front-runner in the European Union.

And last but not least, it is also very good that your plan aims to strengthen the national health system. We have learnt our lessons from the pandemic and we know how important it is to invest in the healthcare sector, so to upgrade existing medical facilities. You will invest in the development of
e-health. Your plan will increase the number of higher education study places, and of course also address the shortage of health workers in the medium term. Because investing in our future is investing in our health and in the health of the planet.

So I have the pleasure to hand over now the envelope that gives the green light to the Finnish plan.

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