“Moscovici and Katainen will make a good team”: interview with Sirpa Pietikäinen

    Ott 28th, 2014

    [Here is the original version of our interview with the Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP)]

    Many observers consider Jyrki Katainen as a “fiscal hawk” and Pierre Moscovici as a “fiscal dove”: what’s your opinion about their hearings at the ECON committee? Do you think they will work well together despite their different viewpoints about austerity measures?

    I think these images are somewhat distorted. Moscovici is a decisive person with a background in economics. And is Katainen not such a hawk as he portrayed as. He has the reputation because he was the leader of a coalition government in Finland with 6 parties. Before the elections the social democrats had promised that there would be no more bail-out packages for Greece or other countries in trouble without guarantees for the Finnish loans to those countries. I think Moscovici and Katainen will make a good team and the will work together in good co-operation in the commission.

    France’s Front National and Italy’s Five Star Movement call for a referendum to leave the euro area. Meanwhile, Lithuania is joining it at early 2015 and Poland could be soon its 20th member. Do you think the euro will connect or will break EU down in next years? Could a stronger fiscal union undermine or strenghten eurosceptic parties?

    Undermine. The fact that there will be more countries in the eurozone and less outside it shows that the eurozone is still something desirable that countries want to be a part of.  

    EU approved new sanctions against Russia last month. However, many farmers in Southern Europe are suffering for Russian food embargo. What should EU do to avoid to lose public opinion’s approval on the sanctions?

    The situation was unavoidable, there had to be sanctions, even though they could harm the public image of the union. The EU should try to rationalize the sanctions as well as possible to the public.

    Next parliamentary elections will be held in Finland in 2015. Polls show that Kokoomus is closing in on its opponents. Do you think a new coalition government is unavoidable? Will True Finns be excluded from the coalition anyway as well as Swedish Democrats in Sweden?

    I have never forecast election results – not my own, nor the success of others. The people decide and then the politicians act accordingly.

    What’s your opinion about Italy’s Mare Nostrum operation? Is it a “pull factor” – some EU officials think so – or a “great humanitarian success” – as pointed out by the UN High Commission for Refugees?

    In a case when someone decides to leave his or her home and make an incredibly dangerrous trip across the sea, I think it is impossible for an outsider to say, what exactly is or is not a “pull factor” and what are the factors that make him or her make the final decision. That is why I think it would be rather bold of me to say that the operation is a pull factor – the situation is far too complex to make such a simplification. At the same time one must take in to account that more than 1,800 people are estimated to have died while crossing the sea this year, despite Mare Nostrum. So a great humanitarian succes is also maybe an overstatement.
    UN’s high comissioner for refugees has estimated that without Mare Nostrum or a similar operation even more people would die. That is why I think the operation should be continued.

    Last week Conchita Wurst was invited to perform at the EP by five MEPs included you. At the same time, Italian Interior Minister and New Centre-Right’s leader Angelino Alfano ordered mayors to stop recognizing the validity of gay marriages performed outside the country, included EU member states. Could EU and member states keep very different policies about LGBT rights for a long time? Would you agree on a infringement procedure against Italy about this matter?

    As to the first question, the answer is no. EU member states should have coherent policies about LGBTI rights. I have often said and will say it again: human rights are not a matter of subsidiarity. As to the second question, infringement procedures are not really possible in the current situation. That is why I think it is important to work for the adoption of the discrimination directive.

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