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Finnish delegation focus on defence and increasing UK-EU cooperation

From Monday 26 February to Wednesday 28 February BGIPU hosted a delegation from Finland led by Mr Sebastian Tynkkynen MP, Chair of the Finnish IPU Group. He was joined by Ms. Anne Kalmari MP, Vice Chair of the Finnish IPU Group, as well as Ms. Fatim Diarra MP, Mr. Markku Eestilä MP, Ms. Päivi Räsänen MP and Mr. Johan Kvarnström MP.

The delegation started their visit with an introduction to the Westminster parliamentary system by Ed Beale, Clerk of the Interparliamentary Relations Office. This was followed by a meeting with the Lords European Affairs Committee, chaired by Lord Ricketts, which focused on support for Ukraine and UK-EU relations post-Brexit. The delegation then met with The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Fleur Anderson MP, Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland. Topics included the nature of the Shadow Cabinet system, the situation in Northern Ireland following the UK’s departure from the EU, devolution across the UK, and the upcoming general election.

The second day of the visit began with a tour of Parliament by Viscount Craigavon, Secretary of the APPG on Finland, who shared his extensive knowledge of the history of the Palace of Westminster. The delegation then participated in a roundtable meeting with Members of Parliament chaired by Brendan Clarke-Smith MP, Chair of the APPG on Finland. The discussion covered a range of subjects including education and childcare systems in the UK and Finland, Finland recently joining NATO, support for Ukraine and Russia’s threat to European security. The delegation then had a working lunch hosted by Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, Co-Chair of the APPG on Finland, before a roundtable meeting with experts to discuss UK-EU relations and trade. This was followed by a meeting at the Foreign Office with Leo Docherty, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Europe), where topics included UK support for Finland’s NATO membership and Russia’s war against Ukraine. After a tour of the Churchill War Rooms, the delegation then attended a drinks reception hosted by Dan Carden MP, Treasurer of BGIPU and President of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians.

The final day began with meetings with the Lords International Relations and Defence Committee, chaired by Lord Ashton of Hyde, and the Commons Defence Committee, chaired by Sir Jeremy Quin MP. Support for Ukraine and Russia’s threat to European security were again the focus, along with the potential for the UK and Finland to learn from each other on military and defence issues. The delegation then attended Prime Minister’s Questions before a working lunch hosted by The Rt Hon Vicky Ford MP, Vice Chair of BGIPU. The visit ended with a meeting with Luke Pollard MP, Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces, to discuss the need for Europe to increase its defence capacity to ensure Ukraine gets the support it requires.

BGIPU Secretariat