Article Finland: Government Sends Proposed NATO Act for Public Review

On November 3, 2022, the Finnish government sent for public review a proposal on domestic legislation related to its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) accession. The final date to submit comments is November 23, 2022.

Background to the Proposed NATO Act

On May 17, 2022, the Finnish Parliament approved the government’s proposal to join NATO. The Finnish government and the government of Sweden jointly submitted applications for membership with the organization on May 18, 2022. On July 5, 2022, NATO’s 30 members signed Finland’s accession protocols. The next step for accession is for all 30 countries to accept the accession protocols in accordance with their national procedures. So far, 28 NATO member states have approved the Finnish application in their national assemblies. Only Hungary and Turkey have not yet approved the Finnish and Swedish applications for membership. When this step is completed, the NATO secretary general will present Finland with an invitation to join NATO. Thereafter, Finland must deposit its accession instrument with the United States government. According to the proposal, the Finnish government plans to deposit the accession instrument at the same time as Sweden, which means that the two countries need not approve each other’s instruments separately.

The Domestic NATO Acts

The NATO Act proposal includes two specific law proposals dealing with the North Atlantic Treaty and the Agreement on the Status of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, National Representatives, and International Staff. These proposals would enact the treaty and Finnish accession document under Finnish law.  Specifically, the proposal provides that the government may, by decree, issue provisions of the agreement that lie outside the area of the legislation and issue a decree announcing that the NATO agreement’s provisions have entered into force.

Compatibility with the Finnish Constitution

The Finnish working group that prepared the proposal reviewed its compatibility with the Finnish Constitution and concluded that Finland’s joining NATO does not qualify as a transfer of power to an international organization referred to in article 94 of the Constitution. Therefore, the Finnish Parliament can adopt the treaty with a simple majority. (§ 94 Finnish Constitution [Suomen perustuslaki 1999/731].)

Reasons for Joining NATO

In its request for comments, the Finnish government explains the benefits of joining NATO as follows:

By joining the NATO defense alliance, Finland would strengthen its own security in the changing world around it. Membership in NATO would mean that Finland would be part of NATO’s collective defense and covered by the security guarantees in accordance with article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The deterrent effect of the Finnish defense would then be significantly greater. In addition, NATO membership would give Finland the opportunity to participate in and make decisions on security policy issues that are central to Finland. As a NATO member, Finland would also contribute to a stronger defense alliance. Finland’s NATO membership would strengthen stability and security in the Baltic Sea region and Northern Europe. (Translation by author.)

Elin Hofverberg, Law Library of Congress
November 21, 2022

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