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I say Europe, you say…? Interview with Jyrki Katainen

I say Europe, you say...?

Freedom. 

In our last interview, Eva Maydell’s question to you was: what is your vision for Europe in 2040?

In 2040 the European Union will be more integrated in some areas, such as defence and security. Europe will be stronger as a trading block, and its role in the world political scene will also be strengthened because of increased unity. We have improved considerably our internal market, so that it generates more prosperity and jobs. There has been a significant convergence between the Member States in terms of social justice and fairness - mostly because of the measures the Member States have taken themselves, but also because of what the EU has done.

Do you think now is the time to push for an EU defence co-operation? Why?

Yes, it is the right time to further develop EU defence cooperation, because no country can on its own afford to invest sufficiently in security and defence. It makes sense to pool resources together. Also, more efficient use of existing resources can strengthen security in Europe. Furthermore, there is a whole range of new threats, such as terrorism and cyberattacks, which need more European cooperation.

Is there any Finish foods which you love but find it is impossible to get anywhere else?

Warm-smoked salmon.

The autumn season ahead is sure to be a busy one, what will you be mainly focused on?

I will be focused on 2 things: the EU defence policy and the trade agenda.

What was the last movie you saw?

It was a children's movie, Inside Out.

What is your biggest Brexit worry?

That there is no solution.

You have now been 3 years as Vice-President of the Commission – what do you enjoy most about the job?

I enjoy the most the feeling that I can work for a more integrated and unified Europe. The feeling when I can see that concrete measures open up new opportunities for people and companies throughout Europe.

What do you think is the single greatest benefit of being a citizen of the EU?

The whole Europe, it’s all 28 Member States are as free and as achievable for everyone as one's home country.

If you could share a meal with one celebrity you haven’t met yet, who would you pick?

President Trump.

How is the #investEU plan working? Can you give us a couple of examples?

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) functions well. Already over 460 000 European SMEs can get financing through EFSI. The Investment Project Portal is up and running to match investors with project promoters, so that projects can find financers. We have lowered capital charges of insurance companies so that they can invest easier in infrastructure.

Are you keeping up with any TV series at the moment?

House of Cards. 

Do you like to cook? Are there any signature Katainen dishes?

I love cooking. My signature dishes are wild game food and warm-smoked salmon.

What do you remember most fondly about your Erasmus experience and why would you recommend young students to go on an Erasmus today?

Erasmus changed my life completely. It gave me a view from living in a multicultural environment, surrounded by fellow students from various countries. It also strengthened my self-confidence and gave me a feeling that Europe is open for me.

Which EPP colleague would you suggest for our next interview? What would be your question for her or him?

I would like to suggest Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, with whom we share a background from our days in YEPP. My question to him is: what are your 3 key themes for the future development of the EU?


I say Europe, you say…?  is a series of candid interviews with centre right movers and shakers of the European project. From legislative work to food preferences, from weekday causes to weekend hobbies, we show you the human face of EU politics and its main protagonists.