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The Finnish Parliament plays a strong role in decision-making on EU matters, compared with many other member states. Parliament decides what position Finland should take in EU decision-making on matters that fall within Parliament's competence.
All the committees consider EU matters, but Parliament's positions are generally decided by the Grand Committee. National parliaments are not directly represented in the European Union's institutions. They participate in decision-making by overseeing and guiding their own governments' EU policy.
Finland joined the European Union on 1 January 1995. As a member state Finland participates fully in EU decision-making and is also bound by EU decisions. The EU has supranational decision-making powers in certain areas as specified in its treaties, such as agricultural policy and trade policy. The most important legislative tools in the EU are regulations and directives. The EU also issues decisions and recommendations. EU regulations enter into force in Finland immediately. Directives, on the other hand, require the national implementation of objectives. This often requires amendments to national legislation.
When Finland joined the European Union, it shifted certain national powers to collective decision-making within the EU. Some of Parliament's powers were shifted to the Council of the European Union, where the governments of all the member states are represented. It was therefore necessary to devise a system allowing Parliament to determine Finland's position on matters that fell within its decision-making power before it became a member state.
Parliament has the right - and obligation - to express its views on matters that are decided by the Council of the European Union whenever these fall within Parliament's decision-making power (legislation, major financial policies, important matters regarding foreign affairs).
All of Parliament's committees and Members consider EU matters. The special committees issue statements on matters, and then Parliament's position is decided by the Grand Committee or the Foreign Affairs Committee. Ministers attending Council meetings receive a political mandate from Parliament for their actions.
The Constitution requires that the Government keep Parliament informed of the preparation of matters in the European Union. The Government must also consult with Parliament on proposals under consideration in the EU and report to Parliament on its policies and the reasons for these policies. In this way Parliament can also oversee EU policies in matters that do not strictly fall within its competence.