Finnish foreign minister: EU referendum not due in near future

Finland is not likely to stage a referendum on EU membership during the current government's term, said Foreign Minister Timo Soini, head of the eurosceptic Finns Party.

"With the current balance of power, this government will not propose a referendum," Soini told reporters Wednesday.

Soini welcomed a citizens' initiative organized by his party's youth wing as "it generates a debate, which is good."

Parliamentary elections are scheduled in 2019.

Soini's party are part of Prime Minister Juha Sipila's centre-right governing coalition formed a year ago, also comprising Sipila's Centre Party and the conservative National Coalition Party.

Soini said the British decision to leave the European Union must be respected, and the bloc was to blame for the outcome in Britain.

The Finns Party youth wing leader this week launched a citizen's petition to call for a referendum on Finland's EU membership. Finland joined the bloc in 1995.

A bill adopted in 2012 states that a petition signed by at least 50,000 people can be forwarded to parliament for consideration.

The Finns Party is to decide on its stance on a referendum when it adopts its election platform in late 2018 or early 2019, Soini said.

New Finnish Finance Minister Petteri Orpo, who recently took office after winning a leadership vote in the conservatives, has criticized calls for a referendum as it could harm investments.

Sipila told public broadcaster YLE on the sidelines of a EU summit in Brussels that a Finnish referendum was not on the cards.

Last update: Wed, 29/06/2016 - 12:12
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