Finland as part of the European Union
The European Union is a union between states. Finland is one of the member countries of the European Union. The membership means that a large part of the decision-making concerning Finland takes place in EU bodies. Finnish representatives also take part in the drafting of matters and decision-making in these bodies. In a number of matters, the EU makes joint decisions, while in others, each member country can act independently.
Customs and trade policy, competition legislation and monetary policy (in euro area countries) fall under the exclusive competence of the EU. In these matters, the member countries have delegated their own decision-making powers to joint EU bodies. The European Union also has a common foreign and security policy.
Finland can influence EU decision-making as a member country
The EU member countries make joint decisions on such matters as agricultural aid as well as the conditions under which people, services, goods and money flow within the Union. For example, in the labelling of consumer products, each member country must observe the decisions jointly made by the member countries.
Social security legislation falls partially under EU competence, while some of the laws are passed by national parliaments. Many of the decisions concerning traffic and the environment are also jointly made. Finland can influence the decision-making process in EU bodies.
Such matters as land use, employment policy, content of the education, size of pensions and the provision of social welfare and health care services fall under Finnish competence.
EU regulations are stronger than national legislation
There are different types of provisions in the EU legislation. The strongest of them is the regulation. It is binding on all member countries. If an EU regulation is in conflict with national legislation, the regulation overrides national laws.
A directive is a legislative guideline under which the member countries must change their legislation in accordance with the directive. Finland can use its own discretion when deciding how to implement the directive.
The European Union may also make decisions binding on one or more member countries. For example, the European Commission has decided on anti-terrorism cooperation between the authorities. The European Union may also issue recommendations and opinions, which member countries may observe if they so wish.