Finland’s Second-Biggest Party Wants Orderly Euro-Exit Mechanism

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The euro area needs to create an orderly mechanism to allow members to leave the monetary union without having to quit the European Union, according to Finland’s nationalist Finns Party.

As things stand now, “the rules contain no mechanism for a controlled exit from the common currency without leaving the European Union,” party leader Jussi Halla-aho told reporters in Helsinki on Thursday. “We want such a mechanism created to ensure future crises, like the disaster in Greece, cause less damage.”

The Finnish election on Sunday ended up being the country’s tightest in six decades and left the Finns Party trailing the victors, the Social Democrats, by just one seat. The result comes after the party, whose leader Halla-aho is a convicted Islamophobe, embraced an ultra-nationalist agenda that railed against immigration.

The Finns Party first gained notoriety around the time of the European debt crisis. Back then, when it was called the True Finns, the agenda was one of deep euro-skepticism that fed off Finnish anger over being called on to bail out Greece at a time when Finland’s government was pushing austerity policies at home.

“The permanence and eternal existence of the euro area is not sacred for us,” Halla-aho said. The cost of doing “whatever it takes” to save the euro during the debt crisis has been “extremely high” for Greece, Finland and everyone else, he said.

Halla-aho said any steps to get Finland out of the euro should be gradual. He spoke as Finnish lawmakers prepare for government formation talks after Sunday’s tight result. Antti Rinne, the leader of the Social Democrats, has said he expects consensus to be reached by May 27, after European Parliament elections.

While “our party doesn’t think euro membership is in Finland’s national interest,” it’s “not realistic” to target Finland’s exit from the euro over the next four years, given that an orderly mechanism for doing so doesn’t yet exist, and any progress toward that goal needs to be gradual, Halla-aho said.

“Most Finns consider EU and euro membership to be a strategic security-policy choice and we recognize this fact,” he said.

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