Finnish NATO proposal assesses effects of membership

by IANS |

Helsinki, Nov 4 (IANS) The Finnish government has published a draft proposal on the country's accession to the NATO, but the local media has claimed that the membership would have a significant financial impact on the Scandinavian country.

The draft proposal was prepared by a working group composed of representatives from the Office of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, among others.

The working group has assessed the relationship between the North Atlantic Treaty and Finland's Constitution, and concluded that the North Atlantic Treaty would not be a problem for Finland's sovereignty and participation in international cooperation.

The government says Finland's NATO membership could be approved by a simple majority in Parliament.

However, NATO membership will increase Finland's public spending on defence, said national broadcaster Yle in an article published on the same day.

NATO countries pay contributions for their membership in proportion, which are calculated in relation to the size of their economies.

According to Yle, Finland's share of NATO co-financing would be 0.9057 per cent.

Finland's contributions would be 27.4 million euros a year if the country became a member of NATO at the beginning of next year.

This figure will probably rise in the future, Yle said. NATO's member states decided at a summit in Madrid this summer to raise jointly financed budgets, it added.

Additional costs would come with the personnel increases and administrative changes related to NATO membership. These costs have been calculated at more than 100 million euros annually.

NATO member countries are also committed to the fact that they aim to increase defence spending to 2 per cent of their gross domestic product.

The share of Finnish defence spending this year is 1.87 per cent.

According to Yle, the draft proposal does not take a position on whether nuclear weapons will be placed in Finland after accession, although the topic has been much-discussed by the public.

Currently, the Nuclear Energy Act would prevent a ship or aircraft equipped with nuclear weapons from entering Finland.

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