Baltic island of Åland to vote on the Lisbon Treaty
Finland's Swedish-speaking autonomous Aaland Islands in the Baltic Sea are due to vote on the Lisbon Treaty later this year, with the outcome seen as uncertain and a No vote likely to land Helsinki in a quagmire.
Politicians in the Finnish capital and Åland's local capital of Mariehamn will be closely following Ireland's second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on Friday, as Åland seeks to use its own vote as a pretext to wrest more power on EU matters from Helsinki.
Although Finland ratified the Lisbon Treaty in September 2008, the Åland Islands, located between mainland Finland and Sweden and home to 27,000 people, have to approve it by a two-thirds majority in their 30-member parliament to endorse it.
A number of MPs have threatened to vote against the treaty unless their demands are met by Helsinki.
Nobody in Finland seems to know what would happen if the Lisbon Treaty was ratified by all 27 EU member states, but not by Åland.
"That would create a complicated situation. We would have to solve it somehow," Sten Palmgren, a senior legal advisor with the Finnish justice ministry, told AFP.
"It would create a legally problematic, even absurd, situation, because the Finnish state is responsible for all EU laws being followed in the country," said Tuomas Ojanen, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Helsinki.
Any decision by Helsinki to ignore an Åland No would most certainly be perceived as undemocratic at home.
In Brussels, the matter does not appear to be causing too much worry.
"It's an internal problem for Finland" to sort out, one EU diplomat said.
"What matters as far as the EU is concerned is whether a member state has ratified or not at the end of the national process. So if there is a problem, it's up to the Finnish government to solve it," he added.
No date has been set for the Åland vote yet, though it is expected to take place in November or December.
Åland, an entirely Swedish-speaking territory, was Swedish until 1809 when it fell into Russian hands. In 1921, it was "given" to Finland by the League of Nations, which also guaranteed its autonomous status.
Now one of Finland's wealthiest regions, Aaland's economy is driven by the shipping and financial services sectors, but its relations have often been conflictual with Helsinki.
The situation has worsened since Finland joined the EU in 1995, when a series of exemptions for Aaland were negotiated in Finland's membership deal, and there are occasional calls for Aaland to withdraw from the EU or even separate from the rest of Finland.
The most common disputes with Brussels concern fishing and hunting quotas.
But Aaland is most bitter over Finland's decision not to support the islands when they wanted an exemption from an EU ban on "snus", a traditional Swedish moist tobacco for which Sweden negotiated an exemption but which the Commission took Finland to court over.
Finnish President Tarja Halonen asked Aaland to ratify the Lisbon Treaty in April 2008, and Aaland's politicians are now using the vote to press Helsinki to bolster Aaland's influence on EU matters.
The primary issue has been a seat for Aaland in the European Parliament, a demand the Finnish government has outright rejected outright.
However, Helsinki has agreed to allow Åland's representatives to attend European court hearings when the islands are concerned.
The islands also want to be heard in decision-making at the council of ministers.
Meanwhile, Professor Ojanen explained that if Åland did not ratify the treaty, some EU laws that fall under Aaland's autonomy would not come into force on the islands and the Commission could take Finland to court.
Economic, environmental and cultural issues are for example matters that fall under the Aaland parliament's authority.
"Legal uncertainty could cause trouble to entrepreneurs and ordinary people for example in social security or company taxation issues," Ojanen said.
But professor Teuvo Pohjolainen from the University of Joensuu disagreed.
"I don't think it would have a big impact" on people or companies, he said.
Polls in Ireland suggest voters there will approve the treaty in Friday's referendum.
An Irish Yes vote would put Finland to the test later this year, while a No vote would give Helsinki more breathing room to resolve its negotiations with Åland.
Åland Islands Could Thwart the EU Lisbon Treaty
Red Ice Radio
Marta Andreasen MEP - Brussels laid Bare, Financial Fraud within the European Union
Nigel Farage MEP - The State of the EU & The Undemocratic Treaty of Lisbon
David Icke - The Lisbon Treaty & The Corrupt European Union
Simon Murphy & Paul Flynn - Truth Coalition Ireland, Calling All Irish: NO to the Lisbon Treaty
Anthony & Derek from Wise up Journal - NO to the Second Lisbon Treaty Vote
Islands give Finns treaty problem
Latest News from our Front Page
Gunman Storms Dutch TV Station Demanding Airtime
Dutch authorities have released few details about the bizarre case of 19-year-old Tarik Zahzah’s attack on the main news studio of television station NOS on Thursday. To get the obvious question out of the way first, the police say there is no evidence that Zahzah, who is half-Egyptian, acted on behalf of organized terrorism.
The authorities always say that on the ...
How Alan Dershowitz bullied rape victims to protect a serial child molester
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz always felt children were fair game for Israeli missiles. Now the question is whether he thinks they are fair game for the sexual exploits of his powerful associates and himself.
Dershowitz and the UK’s Prince Andrew were accused in a recent court filing of raping a teenage girl who was forced into sexual slavery by ...
This past week, the world's preeminent vultures, the economic power elite, met in Davos to discuss the maintenance of their global fiat hegemony. Highlights included furthering austerity, noting that the serf class can't have air conditioning and cars, as well as cheering on the death of privacy through the rise of technocracy. The degenerate elite, completely out of touch with ...
Men must prove a woman said ’Yes’ under tough new rape rules
New guidance will be issued to all police forces and prosecutors as part of a ’toolkit’ to move rape investigations into the 21st century
Men accused of date rape will need to convince police that a woman consented to sex as part of a major change in the way sex offences are investigated.
The Director of Public Prosecutions said it was ...
4 beheaded in Saudi Arabia less than a week into King Salman's rule
Comment: So when will the the "Human rights" promoting liberal west elite decide invade Saudi Arabia like they did Libya?
Members of Magic Movement stage a mock execution scene in protest of Saudi Arabia beheading of eight Bangladeshi workers in October 2011.
Four people have been executed in Saudi Arabia less than a week after 79-year-old King Salman assumed power following the ...
|More News » |