HELSINKI – Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen raised concerns about creating a euro zone budget separate from that of the broader European Union, saying a two-track system could hurt efforts for more integration.
EU leaders meeting on Thursday are due to discuss a separate budget for the 17 euro zone countries, an idea backed by Germany and France.
"The big policy line (of the EU) must be now decided, whether we want to proceed with a united EU or to deliberately separate the two Europes," Katainen told reporters after giving a briefing to parliamentarians.
Finland wanted to "cherish the unity of Europe and (the) EU", though it was opposed to increases in the EU budget given the pressure on national budgets.
Many Finnish voters are against bailouts for weaker euro zone states, arguing that they help profligate countries while Finland faces austerity at home. Such frustrations helped to catapult the previously little-known anti-euro Finns Party to become the No. 3 party in general elections last year.
Export-driven Finland has also been wary of changes that put it at a disadvantage to its bigger neighbor Sweden, a non-euro member.
Katainen said Finland wants Sweden to take part in a proposed banking union. It is also waiting for a Swedish decision before taking a stance on a proposed financial transaction tax.
Katainen noted Sweden appeared to be more open to participating in a banking union, adding that was "very good news".
(Reporting By Jussi Rosendahl; editing by Stephen Nisbet)