A so-called multi-speed Europe would not be a problem as long as countries working more closely together left others the possibility to join their cooperation efforts, the presidents of Estonia and Finland said on Tuesday.
Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid and Finnish president Sauli Niinistö said at a joint press conference in Helsinki on Tuesday that the EU was multi-speed already, since not all countries participated in all formats of cooperation.
What mattered was that member states worked together on cross-border issues that individual countries were unable to solve on their own, Kaljulaid said. She added that it was important as well that the different forms of cooperation remained open to all member states.
Niinistö agreed and highlighted Finland’s experience with various forms of cooperation. Cooperation needed to be open to everyone who met necessary criteria, he said.
The European Commission last week presented five scenarios for the future of the EU, one of which calls for faster integration of some of its member states. Germany and France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg all expressed support for that idea already earlier.
Both Kaljulaid and Niinstö pointed out that not all EU member states were members of the euro area. Kaljulaid stressed the decision of several countries to opt out of some other of the EU’s common policies as well.
Kaljulaid: Solving issue of same-sex marriage may take a generation
The Finnish parliament voted for the second time in favor a law legalizing same-sex marriages in mid-February. The vote took place two weeks before the law originally passed in 2014 took effect: Mar. 1 this year.
Finland has recognized same-sex partnerships since 2002, but it was the only one of the Nordic countries so far not to legalize same-sex marriages. The second vote was a last-ditch attempt by opponents of same-sex marriage to prevent the law from entering into effect.
Niinistö said at the press conference that in his opinion, a different term should be found for same-sex marriages, one that would satisfy all parties.
Kaljulaid said that Estonia had embarked on the path of giving same-sex partnerships a legal status, but judging by the experience of Ireland, completing this path may take a whole generation.
“We have started on the path to legalizing same-sex partnerships,” Kaljulaid said. “We must continue the frank discussion, and be open minded, then we will make it soon.”
Editor: Dario Cavegn