In terms of external conflicts and crises, Finland has successfully implemented a WGA, most notably in the field of crisis management. This has been done under the rubric of a comprehensive approach to crisis management. While the roots of this approach are clearly to be found in civil-military collaboration, it has been expanding to also encompass other policy sectors, most notably development policy, humanitarian aid, peace-mediation and human rights policy. Recently, Finland’s external economic relations and diplomacy generally seem to reflect Finland’s aspirations to promote peace and stability in the EU’s neighbourhoods and beyond.
Against this backdrop, the comprehensive approach constitutes a highly relevant narrative and policy objective shaping Finland’s responses to external conflicts and crises. Yet the operationalisation of the WGA still faces some challenges in terms of planning, making and implementing related policies. Granted, the decision-making, coordination structures and financing mechanisms have been largely clarified over the past decade. Nevertheless, this has not led to any major institutional transformations that would enable collaboration and coordination through joint objective-setting and programming. At present, to what extent this would be needed is a somewhat open and under-examined question in Finland.
This analysis suggests that there are some major external and internal enablers of the WGA in Finland’s responses to external conflicts and crises. First, Finland’s aspiration to emerge as a security provider in the European and international contexts has highlighted its active participation in EU-, NATO- and UN-led crisis-management efforts. Accordingly, Finland has become a strong supporter of the comprehensive approach in regional and international fora. It has also aimed to contribute to developing a comprehensive approach in the EU, such as by providing expertise on the implementation of this approach. Second, Finland’s emphasis on a comprehensive approach has opened up possibilities for it to also engage in international operations through civilian means, which has been an important part of the consensus-building on foreign and security policies among the country’s political parties. Third, the relatively small size of the general administration, personal links, efficacy and impact requirements, as well as a long tradition of cross-sectoral collaboration in national security and defence have fostered a relatively conducive environment for WGA approaches to develop in.
Finally, there is evidence that Finland’s comprehensive approach has spilled over from crisis management to the broader context of foreign and security policy. The EU’s aspiration to utilise all the tools available to it in a coherent manner in order to promote peace and stability as well as to address conflicts and crises is very much a shared objective in Helsinki. This means that while innovations on the EU level shape national developments within Finland, the latter also often feed back to the EU level and other relevant actors through expertise and a commitment to further developing comprehensive approaches in general.