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22/03, HELSINKI | The European Union is faced with security challenges of global proportions. In light of the evolving security landscape and the threats posed by conflicts within the continent and in the EU’s neighbouring regions, panelists explored how the EU can develop a defence and security policy fit for the changing geopolitical context we live in.

The panel debated strategies for streamlining EU defence policies, fostering enhanced collaboration amongst Member States, and investing in cutting-edge research and development. Among the questions discussed:
How can the EU develop a common defence and security policy fit for the current ever-changing geopolitical context?
What is the level of investment and cooperation needed to become a global power player?
How would the 2030 EU enlargement impact the bloc’s defence strategy?

The location for our event is not a coincidence considering the historic and geopolitical role Finland has had in Europe when it comes to security and defence. Finland, together with the Eastern European member states, has always stressed the threat of its member Russia towards the peace and safety on the continent and with being the newest member of NATO, the significance of the debate happening specifically in Finland brought an added value to the event.

The European elections are less than 3 months from this event and their significance is even higher after the challenges and outcomes of the current mandate of the European Parliament. In the past 5 years, Europe faced a pandemic, wars, higher temperatures, floods, wildfires, inflation, energy crises and unfortunately much more. Thus the debates around the elections hold an even greater value for what the future holds for the next 5 years.

In the lead up to June 2024, the Parliament Magazine and European Movement International will explore the key challenges and opportunities facing the EU through an itinerant series of thought-provoking debates, organised in partnership with European Parliament Liaison Offices, and print and digital content.

The “Road to European elections” series will engage policy makers, opinion leaders, industry voices, but mostly, citizens. We will hear from them across the EU, analysing the impact of emerging trends and the role of the EU in building a prosperous and sustainable future for everyone in Europe.

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15:30 - 16:00

Welcome & registration of participants

Welcome and presentation of together.eu by Jarmo Oikarinen, Head of Office of the European Parliament Information Office in Finland

16:00 - 16:45

Panel I: The future of European security & defence policy

The first panel debated strategies for streamlining EU defence policies, fostering enhanced collaboration among Member States, and investing in cutting-edge research and development.

Introductory remarks by:

  • Maria Blässar, Head of the Delegation, Representation office of the European Commission in Finland

Speakers include:

  • MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, Finland)
  • Tytti Tuppurainen, Member of Finnish Parliament & former Minister of European Affairs
  • Aku Aarva, Board Member, European Movement International
  • Jonas Cederlöf, Policy Officer, DG DEFIS, European Commission
  • Juha Jokela, Programme Director, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

16:45 - 17:15

Networking break

17:15 - 18:00

Panel II: A European Union fit for purpose

The second panel generated ideas and proposals for institutional changes that will make the EU fit for the challenges of the years ahead, strengthen the democratic foundations of the European Union, and ensure a more accountable and citizen-oriented governance structure.

Speakers include:

  • MEP Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA, Finland), Vice-president of the European Parliament
  • MEP Nils Torvalds (Renew Europe, Finland)
  • Totti Sivonen, Executive Director, European Movement Finland
  • Tyyne Karjalainen, Researcher, Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Ninni Norra, Finnish citizen ambassador, Conference on the Future of Europe


Heidi Hautala

Vice President of the European Parliament, Greens/EFA

Heidi Hautala is Vice-President of the European Parliament, Member of the European Parliament in the Greens/EFA group. She was elected as Vice-President of the European Parliament in October 2017 and serves on the Committee on International Trade and the Subcommittee on Human Rights. In 2017, she established a Working Group on Responsible Business Conduct in the European Parliament.

In Finland, Ms Hautala served as a Member of Parliament from 1991 to 1995 and from 2003 to 2009. From 2011 to 2013, she was the Minister for International Development and State Ownership Steering.

She holds a Master’s degree in Agriculture and Forestry.

Nils Torvald

Member of European Parliament, Renew

Nils Torvalds, Member of the European Parliament since 2012, represents Swedish People’s Party of Finland (SFP) and the centrist-liberal group Renew Europe. He is for the moment a member in the committees for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and for Budgets, while being a substitute in the committee for Industry, Research and Energy. He is the spokesperson and coordinator for his parliamentary group in the committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. He is also working with EU-Russia and EU-US relations in respective parliamentary delegations in the European Parliament.

Sirpa Pietikäinen

Member of European Parliament, EPP

Aku Aarva

Executive Director, Urban Energy Finland

Aku Aarva is a board member and treasurer of the European Movement International and the executive director of Urban Energy Finland, an association representing Finnish urban energy companies.

Juha Jokela

Programme Director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs

Dr Juha Jokela is the Programme Director of the European Union research programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Dr Jokela’s previous academic and policy studies projects and publications include the EU’s sanctions policy, political implications of Brexit for the EU, political and security developments in the Arctic, Europeanisation of foreign policy, EU’s Asia relations, and Finland’s EU policy. His current research interests include differentiated integration in EU’s foreign policy, and the role of G7 and G20 in multilateral cooperation. Jokela is a member of the board of Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA), member of the Steering Committee of EuroMesCo, the main network of research centres and think-tanks in the Euro-Mediterranean area, and member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP).

Maria Blässar

Head of the delegation, Representation office of the European Commission in Finland


Maria Blässar, a Finnish national, has pursued a career of over 20 years in different EU/EEA institutions and in the Finnish administration. During the past 13 years she has worked in the Commission Representations in two Nordic capitals – Helsinki and Stockholm. She is currently the Head of Commission Representation in Helsinki.  Prior to this, she was the Head of Press and Media Team at the Commission Representation in Sweden. Her tasks in the Representations have included political reporting, media work, communication activities and managerial tasks.

Maria Blässar holds a Master of Social Studies from the University of Helsinki and a one-year Master of Science in European Studies of the London School of Economics.

Tyyne Karjalainen

Researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs

Tyyne Karjalainen is a Researcher in the European Union research programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Her research focuses on European Union foreign and security policy, EU enlargement and differentiated integration in the EU. Her publications also cover peace-building, crisis management and peace mediation. Before joining FIIA, Karjalainen worked at the Civilian Security Sector Reform Component at the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) in Ukraine, the Research and Development Unit of the Crisis Management Centre (CMC) Finland, and the Finnish Permanent Representation to the United Nations in New York. Karjalainen is a doctoral student in political science at the University of Turku focusing on the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood policies. She holds a degree from the Master’s Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research at the University of Tampere.

Totti Sivonen

Executive Director, European Movement Finland

Totti Sivonen has been Executive Director of European Movement Finland since November 2022. Prior to his current role, Totti worked for the organisation first as a trainee and later as an EU-specialist. Sivonen graduated in 2021 from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland with a major in Politics and International Relations and is currently studying in the European and Nordic Studies Masters programme at the University of Helsinki.

Ninni Norra

Citizen ambassador from Finland on the Conference of the Future of Europe   

Ninni Norra (b.2001) represented Finland in the Conference on the Future of Europe and was a member of the committee on Values and Rights, Rule of Law, and Security. She co-leads the EU magazine Tähdistö as its editor-in-chief and has a diverse background in foreign affairs, economics, and civil society. She was recently named Ashoka Nordic’s Young Changemaker of the Year for her initiative Olea Think. Norra studies analytics, data management, and computer science at Aalto University School of Business.

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