Finnish ruling coalition survives for now as economic recovery talks continue

FILE PHOTO: Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin arrives for the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium July 19, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Talks between the five parties in Finland's centre left ruling coalition on how to restart the economy will move into a second week on Wednesday, avoiding for now the risk that the government would face imminent collapse.

Fears that the Centre Party would quit the coalition had raised concerns about what would happen with the Nordic country's vote to ratify the European Union's pandemic recovery fund, due by the end of the week.

The Centre Party had said it would back the government, giving the coalition the numbers it needed to pass the package, but it is unclear what would happen if the coalition collapses, with fresh elections one possibility. The rescue package must be ratified by all of the EU's 27 members.

According to media reports, the ruling coalition came close to breaking after Centre Party leader, Science and Culture Minister Annika Saarikko, told Prime Minister Sanna Marin that her party would leave the government.

The Centre Party has clashed with other coalition members on issues including job creation, unemployment benefits and compensation for peat producers as production is wound down, reports said.

"The negotiations have ended for today," Marin tweeted late on Tuesday. She did not say when the party leaders would return to discussions.

The Finnish government has now taken seven days, instead of the two planned, to negotiate how it will use public money to return Finland back to growth after the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centre Party has rejected several proposals the prime minister has brought into the negotiations.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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