17 November 2022

Nature Restoration and Fundamental Rights

This year’s most heated topic of constitutional contestation in Finland is likely to be the Commission’s recent proposal for nature restoration. While nature restoration has an innocent sound, the matter actually involves a broad spectrum of constitutional issues. In this debate, political undesirability has turned into claims about the EU’s lacking competence in regulating forests and a general failure to respect the principle of subsidiarity. Last Friday the Finnish Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee approved an interesting statement of principle, which is likely to affect the country’s stance on EU (fiscal) integration far beyond the question of nature restoration. Continue reading >>
10 Juli 2022

Is Finland Joining the Backsliding Trend in Europe?

New laws have just been adopted by the Finnish parliament that would be extremely dangerous tools in the hands of a cynical government with a right-wing-populist and/or kleptocratic agenda. As the composition of the current Government is left-green-centre, some people will dismiss my concerns. The plain facts, however, give rise to worries: parliamentary elections will be held in April 2023, both large opposition parties, the populist True Finns and the Conservatives, effectively took ownership of the parliamentary consideration of the Bills in question, and the prevailing political rhetoric now is full of slogans that echo Donald Trump rather than the voices of human rights. There is good reason to be on high alert. Continue reading >>
22 März 2022

On Finland with Love

This contribution briefly unpacks the relevancy of the East/West intersectionality Finland represents for us today. The pragmatic manner in which the Finns have dealt with Russia – in all its previous versions, white, red or “federal” – is instructive in understanding the limits of moral, economic and physical power when facing a neighboring country that will most probably never be trusted, loved or changed, by outsiders. Continue reading >>
26 November 2021

Securitizing asylum seeking in speech and practice in Finland

The presence of a strong security paradigm in Finnish migration law, policy and court practice is not a new phenomenon. What has become most prevalent is the securitization of asylum seeking. For a long time, this speech has not turned into practice, but this may soon change, in response to the migration influx after 2015 and in the Belarussian context. Continue reading >>
29 April 2021

Between European Commitment and ‚Taking the Law Seriously‘

On 27 April 2021, the Constitutional Law Committee of the Finnish Parliament adopted its much-awaited opinion on the EU’s Own Resources Decision. It established that its approval requires a qualified majority and thus a significant bulk of votes from the opposition, which has been highly critical of the package. Now, for many MPs, the situation creates an impossible dilemma between their European commitment and taking the law seriously. Continue reading >>
23 Februar 2021

Finland: Soft measures, respect for the rule of law, and plenty of good luck

In mid-April 2020 Verfassungsblog published my first take on Finland’s response to COVID-19, under the characterisation 'Best Practice and Problems'. Into February 2021, Finland has remained one of the few European champions in combating the epidemic, with 9,423 cases and 131 deaths (both per one million inhabitants and by 18 February 2021). Notably, Finland’s success has not followed from strict ‘draconian’ measures but from a combination of factors that include at least geographical location; cultural patterns that support physical distancing and even isolation; a well-functioning healthcare system; a good level of compliance; comparatively good levels of vitamin D; and sheer luck which would be related to the first factor, geographical location. Continue reading >>
05 November 2020

Serious Cyberattack Raises Questions About GDPR Application in Finland

After the personal data of thousands of patients was hacked from a privately-run psychotherapy centre in Finland, blackmailers are threatening to publish the data unless they receive a ransom. Because of the seriousness of this data breach, the case is likely to become a landmark in Finnish data protection law and a Europe-wide reference point for the application of GDPR rules in data breach situations. Continue reading >>
18 Juni 2020

Who is ultra vires now?

For decades, and until a few weeks ago, Article 310 TFEU has been seen as prohibiting the EU from borrowing to finance its expenditure. The Commission’s Next Generation EU proposal reverses that interpretation and raises fundamental questions of EU law and its dynamic interpretation. With such a sudden change of heart, are the Member States under a duty to follow? What constitutional limits remain to their membership obligations? Continue reading >>
12 Mai 2020

Constitutional Constraints meet Political Pressure

The Finnish Constitutional Law Committee had already in April adopted a critical position towards the COVID 19 crisis measures in the EU. Last week the Committee continued its critical examination. It came to the conclusion that the Eurogroup decision to essentially remove all conditionality from the new loan facility of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is incompatible with the Finnish Constitution and expressed serious doubts about its compatibility with EU law. The Committee also repeated its concerns about the accumulation of financial risks deriving from EU membership. Continue reading >>
08 April 2020

Solidarity and Constitutional Constraints in Times of Crisis

While important, European solidarity cannot take place at the expense of safeguarding citizens’ economic and social rights under the Constitution of Finland. For this reason, the Finnish Government needs to remain alert to the risks involved in the increasing financial commitments given by Finland. Depending on their exact features, the constitutional problems relating to “corona bonds” might only be overcome by a risky and time consuming constitutional amendment procedure. This is the result of two days of deliberations by the Constitutional Law Committee of the Finnish Parliament relating to the euro group agenda dedicated to the COVID19 crisis. Continue reading >>
08 Mai 2018

Is Travel to Syrian Warfare a Terrorist Crime? The Finnish Case

On 24 January 2018, the Helsinki District Court of 24 January 2018 ruled on an alleged plan by three Muslim men, all Finnish nationals, to travel to Syria and join the ongoing armed conflict there. The prosecutor chose to base the charges on Section 2, Preparation of an offence to be committed with terrorist aim, under the construction that joining the armed opposition forces in Syria so as to engage in hostilities against the official army of the al-Assad regime, could have resulted in death or injury to members of the Syrian military forces. Continue reading >>
31 August 2015

Finnish Government and the Desire to Constitutionalize Mass Surveillance: Toward Permanent State of Emergency?

The Finnish Government intends to amend the constitution to clear the path for a NSA-type surveillance scheme. The form of constitutionalism that results from this kind of change would reverse the traditional grounds of legitimacy as set forth by the constitutions and human rights treaties: instead of providing one possible but narrowly interpreted ground for restricting right to confidential communications and protection of personal data, national security would occupy the position of a main rule while the constitutional right would wither away to a narrowly applied exception. In essence, the amendment would securitize one of the key fundamental rights of our time, and create a permanent state of emergency within it. Continue reading >>
02 Dezember 2014

Im Dutzend mehr Freiheit – mit Finnland gibt es bald in 12 europäischen Staaten die Ehe auch für Homosexuelle

Finnland macht in diesen Tagen das Dutzend voll im Kreis der europäischen Länder, die die Ehe auch für gleichgeschlechtliche Paare öffnen. Deutschland ist (noch) nicht dabei. Dies gibt Anlass zu einer kurzen Bestandsaufnahme. Continue reading >>
18 November 2014

Soll sie halt ins Heim: Pflege für gelähmte alte Mutter ist kein geschütztes Familienleben

In unserer alternden Gesellschaft sind erwachsene Kinder, die sich um ihre kranken Eltern kümmern, zunehmend normal, und nicht nur das: sie sind auch eine sozialpolitisch dringend benötigte und ziemlich kostbare Ressource. Der EGMR hat heute eine Kammerentscheidung verkündet, die dieser Entwicklung Hohn spricht. Continue reading >>
02 Juni 2014

Languages and EU law discourse: A view from a bilingual periphery

Typically, researchers go for impact; impact on other research, other legal practices along legal research, notably in the legislative, administrative and judicial branches. And the very idea of research includes the element of sharing – and sharing your results is easier if you are understood. In order to take part in the relevant discussions you need to go for two publication channels in parallel: national discourse and communication in foreign languages. Continue reading >>
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