The prime minister has come under fire for failing to cut short his summer vacation to deal with the Uniper crisis, among other issues.
The ruling parties came under scrutiny over rising opposition energy costs during Wednesday’s plenary debate in parliament, following the tabling of an interpellation.
At the end of September, the opposition party Finns Party, Christian Democrats and Movement Now questioned the government on its energy policy and presented a motion of censure, which must be put to the vote on Friday.
Speaking during the plenary debate, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) blamed rising energy costs on Russia, saying it was crucial that Finland and the rest of Europe reduce their dependence on Russian imports and fossil fuels in general .
Finnish party leader Rikka Purra focused his criticism on Finland’s green energy policy and the country’s reliance on weather-dependent and imported energy.
“Current plans include gradual power cuts, which electricity distribution companies will perform every two hours. Considering that in 2023 people’s electricity will be cut off in Finland, it can be said that climate policy has went bankrupt,” Purra said. said.
The nationalist leader demanded, among other things, that Finland withdraw from the European Union’s integrated energy market.
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PM slammed for not suspending vacation to handle Uniper crisis
The main opposition National Coalition Party (NCP) said it had not signed the motion with the other three opposition parties, outlining the Finnish Party’s call to leave the common market of EU energy as too Eurosceptic.
The pro-business NCP instead focused on managing Uniper’s negotiations. Uniper, a subsidiary of the majority state-owned Finnish energy company Fortum, has faced major financial difficulties due to the reduction of gas exports by Russia last summer.
deputy Pia Kauma (NCP) criticized the prime minister for handling the ensuing crisis over text messages instead of suspending his summer vacation to travel to Berlin and “advocate for the interests of Finnish taxpayers and investors”.
Minister for European Affairs and Appropriation Steering Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP) covered Marin during a critical phase of the negotiations in Berlin. The Prime Minister said she was in close contact throughout the negotiations despite being on vacation.
“I don’t understand – is the issue here that I worked while on vacation?” Marin asked when responding to the criticism.
Kauma noted that the Uniper negotiations resulted in substantial losses in the value of Finnish state assets.
Tuppurainen responded by saying that it was Germany who footed most of the bill in the end, not Finland. She also criticized former Fortum executives for their “risky” decision to buy Uniper in 2017.
Calls to nationalize the energy grid
Leader of the Now movement Harry Harkimo voiced support for Purra’s no-confidence motion, but added that he agreed with the Left Alliance’s position on the nationalization of electricity transmission networks.
The Left Alliance has suggested that Finland completely buy out energy company Fortum – which is currently around 51% state-owned – and nationalize the entire power grid. Left-wing MP May Kivela justified the proposal by saying that natural monopolies should not be controlled by entities that could manipulate their status for profit.
Harkimo said the transmission networks should be taken over by the state for security reasons.