MEP Alviina Alametsä speaks about the "European Green Deal" and the future EU-UK relationship

Please introduce yourself. What are your main objectives as an MEP?

I’m Alviina Alametsä, a new Green MEP from Finland. I am 27 years old, and I started influencing politics as a climate activist. We need activism in the streets 
- but also in parliaments and chambers. After I realised this, I first became a Member of Helsinki City Council, where I have advanced equality, environmental and mental health work. Two years later I became a Member of European Parliament. 

In the European Parliament, I was honored to receive the position as a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. I also became a substitute member of the Committee on Development, Subcommittee on Security and Defence and Transportation and Tourism Committee. In the last one, I want to advance better connections by train all over Europe. To cut our global emissions and prevent climate crisis, we need to make industries, energy politics and transportation sustainable. We also need climate diplomacy to get US, China and others on board. Climate diplomacy is something I want to work on in Foreign Affairs Committee.I would like to see the EU emphasize climate and environmental concerns more in it’s trade policy, and as risk for long term global security. 

During my career I have worked in peace mediation. One of my main goals is to strengthen the role of EU as peacemaker - and a champion for human rights. In Finland, I worked as Project Manager for a NGO on mental health care advocacy. I also made a legal initiative on immediate access to therapy. It became widely

popular - 50 000 Finnish citizens signed the initiative, and it is now proceeding in the Parliament. Wellbeing and mental health of our European citizens is close to my heart. This is why I immediately joined The European Parliament Coalition on Mental Health

and Wellbeing. I want to continue to work with these issues on EU level.

Could you give us an insight into the political atmosphere towards the EU in your country?

The current Finnish government consists of parties that have mostly a positive view towards the EU, the Greens among them. The official stance for the government is that Finland wants a strong and united EU, so that we are able to tackle global crises, like climate change. Also most Finnish people think that the EU is beneficial for Finland. This is especially true among young people over 80% of whom think that belonging to the EU is a positive thing. Unfortunately there are also some anti-EU and even extreme right wing views in the public discourse about the Union. Although after the negative effects that Brexit has had on the UK were highly published, almost all talks of leaving the EU have subsided. 

Brexit is going to have a huge impact on the EU. In your opinion, how should the future relationship between UK and EU look like?

The European Union's position is that relations between Britain and the EU should stay as much the same as possible. I strongly agree and hope that Britain will hold up the key rules and standards that were agreed upon in the EU. I don’t want the EU to be next to a country that cuts down workers' rights or participates in unfair tax competition. That is hardly the interest of ordinary Britons either.

Other important issues in the negotiation include environmental protections and equality questions, such as narrowing the gender pay gap. One of the less discussed topics in the negotiation is also intelligence cooperation. About 60% of European Union intelligence comes from Britain. Both benefit from the exchange of information. It is important to achieve a level of confidence in the negotiations to allow  the exchange to continue. Negotiations will most likely become difficult, as Britain's and the EU’s vision of their future relationship seem very different. I would truly hope that both sides can enter into negotiations with an open mind and reach an agreement that will benefit both our citizens.

What do you think are the main challenges and opportunities for the EU in the next 12 months apart from Brexit consequences? 

One of the most important and topical themes in the EU is Climate Policy. Last year the European Commission published the European Green Deal and in January the Parliament voted for it. The deal is a good step forward, but it still lacks ambition and concreteness.

That ambition and concreteness is what is needed now in creating binding legislation to implement the deal. The Commission's proposal for the Climate Law will most likely come out in March, and then it will go to the environment committee and finally to plenary. I believe that law must include concrete, practical and binding means of achieving carbon neutrality while safeguarding human well-being.

There is not just one way to achieve this goal and we must look across different sectors to find a broad range of solutions. 

It’s not going to be easy but it’s absolutely necessary to make the EU the global leader in climate action, and secure future for young generations. Mental health also matters. In EU area, annually 4% of GDP (OECD, 2018) goes to untreated mental health problems. EU needs an ambitious strategy for promoting mental health.

TOPICS: EU - European Parliament - BREXIT -  Peacebuilding - Greens - Ecology - Environment - Climate - Greens - Alviina Alametsä