Estimated reading time 6 min

Why should Finland pay attention to the future of the EU right now?

Sitra’s new leadership training brings together decision-makers and influencers to discuss the future of the European Union. The goal is to improve the ability of Finns to influence the direction we want Europe to take.


Laura Seppälä

Manager, Communications and Public Affairs


Sitra’s new leadership training brings together decision-makers and influencers to discuss the future of the European Union. The goal is to improve the ability of Finns to influence the direction we want Europe to take.

Finland’s sustainable future is dependent on the capacity of the European Union to solve challenges and seize opportunities. Many of the laws that apply to us are drawn up in the EU and the union also decides on matters such as our response to crises, the measures we take to mitigate biodiversity loss and climate change and promote economic growth.

In October, Sitra will start a new leadership training that will strengthen the capacity of Finnish decision-makers and influencers to influence the future of Europe. We asked Jyrki Katainen and the trainer Riikka Marjamäki why Finns should be interested in the EU right now and what the training is about.

Finland has been a member of the European Union for over 28 years. Why should Finland and Finns be interested in the EU right now?

Jyrki: We are currently living in a global situation with exceptionally high tensions in economics, politics as well as in questions of security. Many of the drivers of change are also inspirational, such as the green transition and the opportunities offered by the growing data economy. The European Union is an important shared forum for Finland for drawing up ground rules together. No country can do this alone. We must participate in working on these shared issues and building the future of Europe and Finland.  

Riikka: Exactly. The way in which the EU can solve both global and local challenges and seize opportunities also has an impact on Finland. In Finland, we must engage in discussion on the direction in which we want to develop the union and what Finland’s part will be in that development.

Can a small country like Finland really make a difference in EU matters?

Jyrki: The size of the country is not what matters most, although many people think it is. Good ideas are always welcome. As the EU Commissioner, I was inspired by many people’s ideas and it never had anything to do with their passports. Also, influencing the EU is not only done by ministers and politicians. Companies, organisations and many other parties can influence European matters. 

You were the EU Commissioner for five years. In your experience, what are the three most important things to bear in mind about influencing EU policy and legislation?

It is important to move early and bring up matters before there is any hurry. You must know what you want and advance your own ideas in ways that work in the best interests of Europe. It is also important to build networks and meet people.  

Why has Sitra decided to start EU future leadership training?

Riikka: By influencing the future of the EU, we are also creating the prerequisites for Finland’s future. We want to be part of increasing the understanding of EU matters in Finland and the number of future-oriented discussions. At the same time, it is important to increase the number of parties that influence the EU. We invite 60 decision-makers and influencers to the training annually to share their thoughts. At the same time, we will improve their capacity for having a say on the direction of the EU. The training will feature top-level experts and current information regarding the changing operating environment.  
Jyrki: As the years have passed, the EU has become mundane to Finland. However, we put too little thought into how we would like to develop the EU in the coming years. We are also too reactive. When you do not know what you want, you cannot influence shared issues. We need to engage in discussion in order to increase the number of Finns who can influence Europe’s future. This new training will offer an opportunity to do just that. 

What greetings do you have for people interested in the course?  

Jyrki: You should join to learn and exchange ideas on what the European Union should look like in the coming years. Much of our future will be decided in the EU.  
Riikka: Get in touch if you are eager to join or you know someone who would be interested in the training. We will develop the course along the way and are eager to get feedback.  

The first European Union future leadership training will start on 10 October 2023. The next training will be held in spring 2024. In October 2023, Sitra will publish a memo by docent Timo Miettinen (University of Helsinki) about how the future of the European Union is built.

The Europe Forum will be held on 30 August–1 September. The topic of Sitra’s panel on Friday 1 September 12:30–1.15 p.m. is how nature and the smart use of data can be harnessed to become Europe’s success factors. Sign up for the event! 

Jyrki Katainen was the President of Sitra until 31 July 2023. He was the EU Commissioner during 2014–2019 and the Prime Minister of Finland before that.  

What's this about?