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It is a great honour for me to present the first Government Programme of this decade as a statement to Parliament. In the Government Programme we have told about a shared vision of the future – how the five political parties in the Government have agreed to reform and further develop Finland.
Reform and development are exactly what our nation needs. The Nordic welfare model, which encompasses income security, well-functioning health and social services, high standards of education and skills and a sound environment for entrepreneurship, lay the groundwork for renewal. Because now the situation in Finland is such that reforms cannot be neglected.
The world around us is changing faster than perhaps ever before. Climate change, globalisation, urbanisation, the ageing of the population and technological development are transforming Finland and the world in unforeseeable ways.
In this situation it would be totally irresponsible not to make significant investments in competence building, education, wellbeing and equality. Finland will cope in the 2020s and 2030s only if we are bold, determined and committed to reforms. We need acts for the future, social investments by which we will secure the success of our Nordic welfare state in the coming decades. Inclusive and competent Finland – a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society.
To face the world’s transformation we need strategic thinking, agility and ability to react to changes. We adopted a new way to prepare the Government Programme because sticking to the old ways seldom produces anything new. Theme-based thinking proved an excellent method for building a Government Programme because the great challenges of our time are not only limited to the administrative branches of different ministers. We need cooperation and strategic work across the sectors.
In this Government Programme which we are presenting as a statement for discussion in Parliament we have described our shared understanding of the situation with the objectives and the measures to achieve them.
Each of the objectives and measures aims for a better tomorrow. That the future of our nation would be brighter and better. That not a single senior citizen should be afraid of getting old. That every young person would have an outlook for the future with hope. That the whole of Finland would be a good place to work and do business, to create new growth from finding solutions to the world’s problems.
In the programme and policy of the first Government to enter the next decade, we are not running away from challenges, and neither are we afraid of them. Quite the opposite, we are ready to face the challenges and to tackle them boldly and with determination. And we will make sure that there is justice and hope in our society. That every person has faith in the future and, through this, has the courage to build a better life for themselves and those near them.
This Government will act in a way that is responsible and builds trust.
Not by tearing apart but by being constructive.
Not based on conflicts but by seeking harmony.
Not by fuelling fear but by creating opportunities.
Not by creating inequality but by enhancing wellbeing and equality
The first theme of the Government Programme is about a matter where we cannot fail as decision-makers. There is no time to lose in finding solutions to climate change. The time for excuses is over.
We are convinced that the Nordic welfare state combined with a responsible and sustainable use of natural resources is a model for a society that also secures the future competitiveness of our country. We are drawing up a roadmap for an emissions-free Finland. And because we are just borrowing this planet from future generations, we will secure them the right to a viable environment and a sustainable economy.
The world of the 2020s needs trailblazers. An ecologically sustainable Finland will show the way in mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity. Taking the lead, Finland can play a bigger role than the size of the nation would suggest in finding solutions to humanity’s common challenge. This will open new doors for Finnish research, competence, innovation and businesses.
We must make sure that our use of natural resources is proportionate to the goals of sustainable development. Our solutions in the manufacturing industry and forestry and agriculture will serve as an example for others. Finland’s forests and their sustainable use and the way we produce food are an important part of the work to combat climate change, not the source of problems.
The Government is committed to acting in such a way that Finland will be carbon neutral by 2035. Finland aims to be the world’s first fossil-free welfare society. We will focus on significantly enhancing nature conservation. We will focus on a circular economy, on improving environmental protection in mining activities and on improving animal welfare. We will combat climate change while ensuring equal treatment of our citizens.
The Government’s objective of sustainable economic growth draws not only on a higher employment rate but also on more robust work productivity. Our success depends on our ability to take advantage of the opportunities offered by change and to further develop the strengths we already have. To this end, we must keep Finland’s level of education and competence at the top of the world league.
The Government is committed to a responsible economic policy, including taking care of public finances and their sustainability. In a Nordic welfare state, the economy is managed for the people, not the other way round.
A responsible economic policy means that the public finances are in balance at the end of the electoral term, while we also take care of the necessary reforms and investments by which we can further strengthen the long-term sustainability and productivity of our economy. In plain language: we need significant investments in the future: in competence building, education and research.
This Government will focus on competence.
This Government will focus on education.
This Government will focus on the future.
The reform of the Finnish comprehensive school education in the 1960s and 1970s was perhaps the most significant in the course of our welfare state, even if at the time many were against it. Now there are similar objections against the Government’s decision to raise the minimum school leaving age to 18 years.
However, comprehensive school education is no longer enough to find employment or to learn the skills we need in the working life of the future. We need to have strong basic knowledge, to learn how to learn and to adopt new skills. This is why raising the school leaving age and providing upper secondary education free of charge are so important.
To those who criticise this I wish to say: this is the time to get on the right side of history! It is only through education and expertise that we can cope in the competitive world, also in the future. Only by securing equal starting points and opportunities for the people to pursue their dreams and fulfil their full potential can we thrive as a nation.
By extending compulsory education we will strengthen the whole education path starting from early childhood education and care. We also intend to raise the rate of participation in early childhood education and care. Each child and young person will have an individual, personalised pathway to education, taking account of all the options available to us.
We will allow universities and universities of applied sciences to get on with their development and work by promoting stability and securing their core financing.
The key objectives for the Government’s economic end employment policy are to raise the employment rate to 75 per cent and to increase the number of employed people by at least 60,000 by the end of 2023. Given normal global economic circumstances, Finland’s general government finances will be in balance in 2023 The Government’s decisions will decrease inequality and narrow the income gaps.
We want Finland to have the best working life in the world. Through our reforms we will strengthen trust and equality on the labour market. We will provide small companies with good conditions to grow and promote dialogue between employers and employees at workplaces. We will invest in infrastructure to respond to climate change and to ensure the conditions for growth in the whole country.
Social sustainability means that we look after those who most need help in life. In particular, we will pay due attention to poverty among families with children and the position of homeless people. We will improve the income of older people by raising the lowest pensions by EUR 50 net. On a tripartite basis, we intend to look for means to raise pensions that now fall below EUR 1,400 by EUR 100 without increasing pension insurance contributions. We will improve the treatment time guarantee so that we can provide access to non-urgent care within a week. We plan to enact a minimum staffing level of 0.7 for care personnel in units providing 24-hour care for older people.
We will ensure high standards of healthcare and social services for all people in Finland. In the Government’s healthcare and social welfare model, the public sector, through the counties, will assume the main responsibility for organising and providing vital services. This means we will reject a market-led model. We will launch the social security reform through a parliamentary process. In our changing world, income security is not possible unless it can be determined through a simple process while taking care of individual needs.
In line with this thinking, we will reform taxation so that it will support the goal of seeking a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society. To that end, things that are harmful to the environment and health will be taxed more than before. We will create a more robust tax base that will, in turn, enable tax cuts for low and medium income earners. We will take decisive action to fight tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance in Finland and abroad.
We believe that a responsible and fair economic policy will make people feel more confident about their future prospects.
We believe that reforms that are based on the principles of sustainable development will increase people’s trust in politics.
We believe that measures to strengthen parity, increase equality between women and men, facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life, and improve social welfare and health care services, will both increase wellbeing and strengthen the sense of inclusion across our society. We place great importance on maintaining and strengthening the rule of law and on securing the operating conditions of the authorities in all sectors.
Our goal is to empower and support; after all, that’s what politics is all about.
The promotion of human rights, the rule of law, democracy, peace, stability, tolerance and equality in all international activities forms the central element of the value base on which Finland’s foreign and security policy rests.
Finland is a militarily non-allied state. Finland will secure a credible national defence and ensure the availability of sufficient resources. Finland’s defence capability will continue to be based on general conscription, a trained reserve, the defence of the entire country and a strong will for national defence.
Finland is part of the Nordic countries and works closely with the other nations in this context.
In terms of our external relations, the European Union is Finland’s most important frame of reference and channel of influence, and a security community. Finland’s security and defence policy is built on safeguarding the nation’s room for manoeuvre and on keeping different options open. This means the option of Finland applying for NATO membership is retained. Finland will continue its wide-ranging cooperation with NATO based on its NATO partnership.
Finland’s place is at the forefront of the European Union, not only during the upcoming Presidency of the Council, but also afterwards. Finland can achieve its best results only by playing an active part in the EU, and Finland’s proactive role will also benefit Europe as a whole.
Finland is strongly committed to EU membership and to further developing the EU, as well as to the pursuit of policies that accord with the EU’s basic values. We would like to emphasise that one of the core responsibilities of the EU is to create wellbeing for its citizens. The EU will deliver on this by creating wellbeing and prosperity that is socially, economically and ecologically sustainable.
The first Government for the new decade will reduce inequality and improve the position of low income earners. We will carry out investments and reforms concerning the economy and employment for the future. We will mitigate climate change by implementing a proactive climate change policy.
We are calling on all citizens, civil society organisations, business and industry, and political players to build a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society.
Let’s work together to take Finland not only to the 2020s but further, towards the 2030s. Towards a Nordic welfare state of the future where everyone of us feels that they are included, irrespective of their wealth or place of residence, and where everyone can have faith in the future.