Finnish parliament discusses ‘reviving economy’ by ditching euro

© Pekka Sakki
Finland has been discussing whether to leave the euro over growing frustration at the poor state of the country’s economy and high unemployment. The motion was discussed in parliament after a petition gathered more than 50,000 signatures.

While the debate is unlikely to see Finland depart the single currency, it does show a general displeasure at the state of the country’s economy. The petition demanded that a referendum should be held regarding the issue, though this is only likely to happen if parliament agrees for a vote to take place. 

The petition was signed by 53,000 people and was filed by MEP Paavo Vayrynen. His main argument for leaving the euro is regarding fears that Finland might lose economic and political independence if it remains in the euro area. 

”We should revive our economy by leaving the euro zone and reinstating our own currency (with a floating exchange rate). This will restore our competitiveness,” said Vayrynen, adding that the idea of leaving the euro is very popular.

Finland’s neighbors Sweden and Norway opted not to join the euro a few years ago, while Simon Elo, an MP from the co-ruling Euroskeptic Finns party, questions the use of the single currency as in his opinion, it does not benefit anyone.

"The euro is too cheap for Germany and too expensive for the rest of Europe, it does not fulfill requirements of an optimal currency union," he said, according to Reuters. 

However, the petition is not backed by any party in parliament, including Vayrynen's Centre Party. According to a December poll undertaken by the Finnish broadcaster YLE, 54 percent of the population wants to remain in the eurozone, while 31 percent want to leave. A total of 44 percent believe Finland’s economy would be more effective it was to leave the single currency. 

Olav Melin, Information and media relations officer in Finland’s MAGMA think tank, doesn’t believe that the initiative will gain the support of Finnish MPs. 

“Vayrynen… is quite alone with this mission,” Melin told RT. “I think there is no serious politician in the whole parliament who he could team with on this.” 

Finland is facing a number of economic hardships, which were witnessed by its economy growing by just 0.5 percent in 2015, after three years of constriction. This year, Finland’s economy is expected to experience slower growth than any other country in the EU with the exception of Greece. 

The decline of Nokia and a recession in neighboring Russia are seen as the major factors for Finland’s stunted growth.

The return to the markka currency is being mooted by Euroskeptics as a way to try and improve competitiveness. However, the current government is committed to remaining within the eurozone. 

"Our international position would probably weaken, our currency rate would become unsustainable... our country risk would be high and we would be likely driven into a situation where interest rates would increase," Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said, as cited by Reuters.