For the sake of security of supply, we need Finland to have a strong defence industry that is competitive in the international market as well, says Ilkka Kanerva, Chair of the Parliamentary Defence Committee.

Text: Otavamedia Photo: Lehtikuva

Ensuring security of supply for the basic functions of society has become immensely important during the coronavirus pandemic – and military security of supply has also assumed greater importance, according to Ilkka Kanerva, Member of Parliament (National Coalition Party) and Chair of the Parliamentary Defence Committee.

“During the past few years, it has become increasingly apparent that national defence and the responsible management of defence policy are still the most essential tasks of the state.  In addition, it is important for Finland to be a proactive partner with countries that share the same values in the EU and in bilateral arrangements,” says Kanerva.

Although Finland’s security environment is stable, Kanerva says that many international political phenomena raise the level of risk in the Baltic Sea region, too. Threats are posed by factors such as the return of power politics and the erosion of treaties.

“Alongside military threats, we have seen the rise of a different kind of hybrid influence that seeks to paralyse vital societal functions.

We need our own defence industry to safeguard security of supply

Kanerva would like to remind us that Finland has long traditions of preparing for crises, also in terms of military security of supply. This has broad support in society.

“You can see this well in Parliament, too. There is strong support for maintaining the material performance of the defence system and deep understanding of the issue from the perspective of overall security.”

According to Kanerva, our current security environment emphasises the significance of the domestic defence industry.

“Without it, our security of supply would be extremely vulnerable.”

Kanerva emphasises cooperation between public administration and the business sector in ensuring overall security of supply. The security of supply organisation works closely with the business sector – this is characteristic of Finland even on the broader European scale.

In Kanerva’s view, the coronavirus pandemic has shown that Finland has a high degree of preparedness for exceptional situations. Cooperation between policymakers, the authorities and business runs effectively.

“We need this kind of broad-ranging concept to maintain military security of supply as well.

It’s important that the Finnish defence industry can fulfil its obligations with its own products and services, both during normal and exceptional circumstances.

Kanerva reminds us that a competitive and cost-effective defence industry is important to the entire national economy on a broader scale. Companies in this sector create jobs, expertise and tax revenues in Finland.

Competitiveness in export markets must be safeguarded

According to Kanerva, in order to maintain a strong domestic defence industry, companies in this sector must be able to operate competitively in the international market.

Strong domestic references are required for success in export markets. Finnish companies in this field have a great track record in the integration of high-performance technology and systems into the defence system.

Political decisions also play a role. Kanerva states that Finnish policy must make it possible to engage in defence industry exports in line with international agreements.

“We must not impose greater restrictions on exports of defence equipment and dual-use goods than other EU countries do. Stricter monitoring of exports than in other countries must not set additional barriers to Finnish industry.”

Kanerva considers the relatively small size of Finnish companies in this sector as a challenge in the international market.

“Trade processes involving defence industry products are long and difficult. Policymakers and the government need an understanding of these issues to ensure that Finnish products are as competitive as those of other EU countries.”