Citizens' advisory group in Helsinki
The Citizens’ Advisory Group in Finland took place on 25th of January 2014 in Helsinki. It was organised by the Swedish Assembly of Finland and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. The Swedish Assembly of Finland, or Folktinget, is an official statutory body representing the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. The Finnish Institute of International Affairs is an independent research institute producing research on the European Union and international affairs.
The citizens participating in the Finnish consultation were randomly invited according to the following criteria: different age groups, different vocations, gender, attitude towards Europe (to provide a balance) and willingness to be part of a discussion on the future of Europe.
The citizens represented at the Citizens’ Advisory Group in Finland were presented with the five strategic options for EU's future.
Strategic Option 2, “Consolidating past achievements”, proved to be the most popular. This option was considered to be the clearest one, with concrete consequences following from it.
The option was also considered to give national parliaments enhanced possibilities to participate in EU-affairs, which would, according to the citizens, boost co-operation and interaction between EU member states and their citizens. This option was seen as a ”relatively stable status quo” - alternative, where the EU is not going forward but neither backwards. The option gained praise from the participants, since it enables mobility and other benefits of the EU, but maintains national sovereignty within member states.
Strategic Option 3 also received a high support. Participants thought that this option would take EU gradually forward and make it a more stable and a politically more powerful body. Amidst new global competitors, the voters of this option saw that the EU needs to prepare itself for future challenges. The third most supported option, Strategic Option 1 is to be seen and understood in the light of the intense public debate on the euro crisis in Finland.