Andrew Rettman had a good article on Finnish defense policy in yesterday's EU Observer. The basic premise of the piece is that changes are underway, but that the government is waiting to see what will become of the EU not-a-constitution before taking any steps.
"Our next foreign and defence policy report will not come out before the EU constitution treaty. We are waiting for some kind of solution on that, so probably before 2009 we will have our new report," Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen's spokeswoman, Sanna Kangasharju, told EUobserver on Thursday (26 April).The prospects for EU defense cooperation that could replace NATO are rather doubtful. As Rettman notes:
"The general public opinion [in Finland] would be for a European security solution instead of NATO. But the politicians don't hold out much hope for this - the EU is not a military alliance and any security guarantees given by the EU states are not such as could offer real defence," she added.
The text of the draft EU constitution - rejected in 2005 by France and the Netherlands but currently undergoing a revival process - foresees solidarity clauses on natural disasters and terrorist attacks, but not energy or defence-related crises. The idea of a real EU military wing is an anathema to neutrals like Ireland or anti-federalist EU states.I suspect that the next version of the EU not-a-constitution won't help the Finnish government out of their NATO dilemma. Vanhanen's spokeswoman said as much, too, so why are they waiting? Is it just to run out the clock in Halonen's second term?
In related news, earlier this week Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva said (fi) in the Parliament re NATO that "this government will not be leaving a membership application". The government term ends in 2011, so that statement alone doesn't rule out the estimate of "before 2012" that appeared in the Defense News, but the next government sure would need to move in a hurry.