Finland set to pass EU recovery plan as opposition party backs government

HELSINKI, May 10 (Reuters) - Finland will likely approve the European Union’s 750 billion euro COVID 19 recovery plan during a vote on Wednesday after a top official in an opposition party said his group would back the measure designed to kick-start the bloc’s economy.

EU governments approved the recovery fund last year to help member states bounce back from the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But all countries must ratify a decision to raise the upper limit for national contributions to the EU budget in order for the plan to go ahead.

“The majority of our group is ready to back the government’s proposal (on how to use Finland’s portion of the fund) and will vote in favour of it,” Kai Mykkanen, a top official of the National Coalition party, told Reuters.

The Finnish government needs to win opposition votes to meet the two-thirds majority threshold set by the parliament’s constitutional law committee in April. The support of the National Coalition lawmakers would be enough for it to pass.

The five parties in Finland’s centre-left coalition hold 117 seats out of the 200-seat parliament. With one member from the Centre Party expected to vote against the plan, the coalition needs the support of 18 opposition lawmakers for the package to pass.

Fifty parliament members, including all 38 representatives of the eurosceptic Finns Party, have said they will vote against the plan, according to media reports.

The European Commission has so far received recovery plans from 14 out of the 27 EU member states and expects the remaining plans to arrive in the coming weeks, a spokesperson for the EU executive told Reuters. (Reporting by Essi Lehto, Editing by Michael Kahn and Gareth Jones)