Finland Report


Policies Developed

Strategic programmes of consecutive Finnish governments, as well as documents related to their implementation, largely set the overall scene for the WGA in the country’s central governmental administration, including ministries and agencies. These documents often refer to a comprehensive approach in various forms and policy fields as being a guiding principle of the government’s policy planning and decision-making. In this context, the recommendations of the OECD and examples of general administration reforms in close reference group countries (e.g. Sweden) are often noted. While the general administrative landscape for a WGA is seen as being very good in Finland, the role of strong and autonomous ministries is often mentioned as creating some institutional hurdles to cross-sectoral and horizontal collaboration (OECD 2015).
In terms of external conflicts and crises, Finland’s WGA policies have been most clearly evident in the field of crisis management under the rubric of a comprehensive approach. Relatedly, it features high in development policy in terms of policy-coherence objectives. In these contexts, direct links have been made to humanitarian aid and human rights policies as well as to those for sustainable development. Broader economic relations (i.e. trade) are also increasingly connected to Finland’s aspiration to foster peace and stability via its foreign policy and the EU’s external relations.
The comprehensive approach seems to constitute a relatively coherent narrative that runs through key policy documents and impacts the planning and making of policies related to Finland’s responses to external conflicts and crises. Importantly, the scope of its comprehensive approach has been enlarging from civil-military cooperation towards a more general aspiration to work with a ‘WGA mindset’.
Regarding crisis management, a strategy on comprehensive crisis management was adopted in 2009 (Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland 2009) and, five years later, the government revised its strategy on civilian crisis management. The latter states (Prime Minister’s Office of Finland 2014: 10): “Finland aims to develop the effectiveness of crisis management, impact assessments and its capacities to participate in crisis management in a comprehensive manner which takes into account Finland’s fortes.” In addition, Finland underlines the “need for cooperation and coordination between different instruments, such as civilian and military crisis management, mediation, development cooperation, humanitarian assistance, diplomacy, and economic relations and sanctions” (ibid.).
Pursuing a comprehensive approach has also been underlined by the recently appointed government of Antti Rinne. Its programme states that “Finland will implement and promote a comprehensive approach to crisis management” (Programme of Prime Minister Antti Rinne’s Government 2019). Furthermore, it argues that the main objective in crisis management will be to enhance security and stability in conflict areas and “to boost the competence and capacity of countries affected by conflict” (ibid.). The programme also suggests that achieving tangible results in protracted conflicts requires “good coordination between peacebuilding, humanitarian assistance and development cooperation”, and that the government aims to enhance this “through more flexible funding of humanitarian assistance and development cooperation and by enabling multiannual funding arrangements” (ibid.).
A WGA is also evident in the recent government documents on sustainable development goals and Finland’s development policy. For example, one description of Finland’s development policy states (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland n.d.): “Many other government ministries also have a role in development policy, because developing countries are affected by many decisions made at national, EU and international level in other fields, e.g. safety and security, trade, agriculture, environment and migration policies. Coherence between the various policy sectors is a key principle in development policy.”
It is broadly accepted that the EU has had a significant impact on Finnish aspirations to advance a comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises. Yet Finland’s role in promoting the comprehensive approach at the EU level is equally often noted in Helsinki. For example, the government report on Finnish foreign and security policy (Prime Minister’s Office of Finland 2016: 20) states that the EU “must continue to further develop its common preparedness and arrangements for closer defence cooperation”, and that the “foundation for this includes the arrangements created for the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy as well as the capacity of the Union to comprehensively combine different policy sectors and instruments” (ibid.). The government has also reconfirmed Finland’s aspiration to participate in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in crisis management, and it states that it is placing “progressively more emphasis […] on conflict prevention and pre-emptive action.” The document also notes that “[t]he coherence of the EU’s external policies is improved by, among other things, taking into account the connection of the CFSP to the requirements for sustainable development and the implementation of the [UN’s] 2030 Agenda”, and that the “internal and external action of the EU must better complement each other” (ibid.: 21).
While peace-mediation, humanitarian aid, human rights policies and post-conflict reconstruction are understood to be closely connected to crisis-management operations, the emphasis on preventative action is an interesting development. Fostering stability and preventing conflicts (along with poverty reduction) are also increasingly being viewed as key aims in development policy as well as in broader economic relations and diplomacy, and they have also been directly linked to the management of migration to the EU.
Against this background, Finland appears to share the EU’s aspiration to highlight multi-phased, -dimensional, -level and -lateral responses to external conflicts and crises.
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