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Finland’s EU Presidency in 2019: themes and events of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

The presidency of the Council rotates among the European Union (EU) Member States every six months. During this six-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council.

Finland held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 July to 31 December 2019. In social welfare and healthcare policy and in equality issues, the main themes of Finland’s Presidency were the economy of wellbeing, gender equality and promoting conclusions on occupational safety and health.

Finland’s Presidency in 2019 was the third time Finland held the EU Presidency. The main responsibility for the Presidency lay with the Prime Minister’s Office. 

Making the economy of wellbeing a key consideration in decision-making

The economy of wellbeing was one of the main themes of Finland’s EU Presidency. In the economy of wellbeing, public funds are invested in improving people’s wellbeing. People’s wellbeing is a precondition for economic growth and the stability of society and the economy. At the same time, economic growth provides increased opportunities to improve wellbeing for all people.

Based on Finland’s proposal, the Council of the European Union adopted the conclusions concerning the economy of wellbeing on 24 October 2019.

Finland organised a high-level conference on the economy of wellbeing on 18–19 September 2019 in Helsinki

Following the adoption of the conclusions on the economy of wellbeing during Finland’s EU Presidency in 2019, Finland has continued to increase awareness of the theme and built an established position for the theme in the EU and international contexts, and become part of the most significant international players in the economy of wellbeing through networking. 

Strong connection between gender policy and economic policy

During the Presidency, Finland wanted to work towards stronger connections between gender policy and economic policy. Promoting equality between women and men, reducing social inequalities and improving employment opportunities for women are all key objectives in terms of sustainable economic growth.

Finland has signed the Joint Trio Declaration on Gender Equality together with the other Presidency Trio countries, Romania and Croatia.

Finland proposed to the Council of the European Union that the conclusions on equality be adopted at the Council’s meeting in December. The conclusions were adopted on 10 December 2019. 

Finland organised a high-level conference on gender equality. The conference, Europe for Gender Equality? Taking Stock – Taking Action, was held in Helsinki on 30 September–1 October 2019. 

EU strategy work on occupational safety and health continues

During Finland’s EU Presidency, conclusions on occupational safety and health were prepared. Their main objective was to build on the EU’s strategy framework for occupational safety and health 2014–2020 and to propose priorities for the new strategy, which included occupational safety and health challenges and measures that member states consider important.

The conclusions emphasise the positive impact of occupational health and safety issues on employment, sustainable growth and competitiveness and are therefore in line with the conclusions on the economy of wellbeing. 

The Council of the EU adopted the conclusions on occupational safety and health on 10 December 2019. 

The new EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work was launched in 2021.

Further information

Juuli Hakulinen, Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, International Affairs Unit (KVY) 0295163651  


Reetta Honkanen, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Department for Safety, Security and Health / TUTO, Wellbeing and Health Protection Unit / HYT 0295163684