November 23, 2019

NRW learns about Finnish EU-presidency

Minister Dr. Stephan Holthoff-Pförtner. Picture by Land NRW R. Sondermann.

Monday, 2 September 2019, Helsinki, Republic of Finland:  Dr. Stephan Holthoff-Pförtner, Minister for European Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia, was in Helsinki on the occasion of the Finnish Presidency of the EU Council for talks vis-à-vis representatives of government, parliament and society. The exchange focused on topics relating to the Council Presidency, the rule of law and climate protection, as well as digitisation and an information trip to the city of Espoo, the largest innovation hub in Northern Europe.

Minister Dr. Holthoff-Pförtner meets in Helsinki Jari Luoto, Undersecretary of State for European Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office. The Minister said: “I warmly welcome Finland’s plans to reorganise the dialogue on the rule of law. The rule of law is not negotiable in the EU. But instead of talking about each other we have to talk to each other.

The regional government supports a dialogue between the Commission and the member states to promote a common culture of the rule of law. North Rhine-Westphalia moreover supports the Finnish Presidency’s negotiations to link EU financial support to compliance with the rule of law. This must take place in a balanced and efficient system. In addition, the instrument of Article 7 procedure should be continued.”

With Hannele Pokka, State Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, the Minister Dr. Holthoff-Pförtner spoke, among other things, on the subject of climate protection: “In the important negotiations on the long-term EU climate protection strategy, we welcome Finland’s efforts to reach a timely political agreement in the European Council. Cross-border challenges require cross-border initiatives and solutions”, he said as per statement below. 

The Minister held further talks with Mikko Kosonen, State Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, on the subject of digitisation, and with Elina Lepomäki, Member of Parliament and Chairwoman of the German-Finnish Friendship Group in Parliament.

As the Minister in charge of the Ruhr Conference, he informed himself in the city of Espoo about examples of successful regional development. Espoo, Finland’s second largest city about 20 km west of Helsinki, is Finland’s “research heart”. The Minister: “Science, innovation and research can make an important contribution to the development of a region. Several project proposals from the Ruhr Conference also build on this. Espoo shows what effect it has to set the right impulses in this area”.

The “Espoo Innovation Garden” networks the knowledge of the renowned Aalto University with the ideas of start-ups and the market experience of leading companies: Around 5,000 scientists, 25 research and development facilities, 16,000 students and numerous Finnish and international companies work there. The aim of the Espoo Innovation Garden is to bring together players in the region in order to strengthen cooperation. The cooperation of companies, communities and inhabitants is intended to create a breeding ground for the creation of new jobs and the strengthening of a good living environment.

For further information
Government of NRW: https://www.land.nrw/de/pressemitteilung/europaminister-holthoff-pfoertner-tauscht-sich-helsinki-ueber-die-schwerpunkte-der

Embassy of Finland to Germany (HE Ambassador Anne Sipiläinen): www.finlandabroad.fi/deutschland

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