Gunning for Fixit
Will Finland be the first country to leave the Euro?
In an interview with a Finnish financial daily, the country's finance minister, Jutta Urpilainen, admitted that Finland "will not hang itself to the euro at any cost", although she adds that "Finland is committed to being a member of the euro zone, and we think that the euro is useful for Finland."
Collective responsibility for other countries' debt, economics and risks; this is not what we should be prepared for. . . We are constructive and want to solve the crisis, but not on any terms.
So far in Britain, most of the talk about countries exiting the Euro has focused on the possibility of poorer ones being thrown out or being forced to exit to devalue. But Finland offers the opposite scenario: they just don't want to pay for other countries anymore. They have all the downsides of being Germany – that "collective responsibility" that Urpilainen speaks of – with none of the tasty upsides of basically ruling the eurozone with a velvet-gloved fist.
Finland is in a further bind, because they don't really even need to be in the eurozone at all. Their biggest trading partner is Russia, and Sweden is their third; neither of them are in the eurozone. Their biggest opposition party is devoutly eurosceptic, unlike most of the European right (yes, including the Conservatives). And according to Reuters, it has:
Sound macroeconomic and public finance management, a high value-added economy and positive net international investment position. . . These fundamental credit strengths, especially the strength of public finances and fiscal credibility, have cushioned Finland’s "AAA" status from the turmoil in the eurozone.
But we shouldn't read too much into Urpilainen's comments, according to the Wall Street Journal:
Urpilainen's spokesman Matti Hirvola stressed to AFP that the minister's comments did not mean Finland was planning to exit the euro zone. He said:
All claims that Finland would leave the euro are simply false.