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European Chemicals Agency's 10-year celebration Helsinki

Jaa |

Keskiviikko 7.6.2017 klo 15:19

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Esteemed staff of the European Chemicals Agency and guests

This year, we are celebrating Finland's 100-year-long history. In the same time European Chemical Agency it is celebrating its 10th anniversary here in Finland and in Helsinki. These anniversaries are strong signals of permanence, cooperation and success. It is an honour to be here today to celebrate the agency's strong and influential 10-year journey.

We as Finns can be proud that we have been able to offer a place for one of Europe's most important and largest agencies. At the same time and through the agency we have received a strong expertise in chemicals and the related legislation. We have been able to offer a home to hundreds of people, who have come to work and live in Finland because of the ECHA. This is a privilege and a benefit for Helsinki and the entire capital region. In return, we hope that Finland has been able to offer you its best over the past ten years.

To start off, I will go back in history a bit and review the talks and turns that happened before the European Chemicals Agency was finally located in Finland.

In 2003, the EU was trying to make decision on the location of ten agencies. As many of you probably remember, Finland and Italy were first competing for the European Food Safety Authority.

Matti Vanhanen, who became Finland's prime minister in 2003, began the process to prepare an official position on the agency. However, it soon became clear that Italy won’t make any compromises with regard to the European Food Safety Agency. Prime Minister Vanhanen put a stop to the process of the agency package in the Council of Europe. The whole decision of the package was postponed to the next meeting. At the same time, Finland began to consider another choice to the European Food Safety Authority. Finally the Government made the decision to apply for the European Chemicals Agency instead of the European Food Safety Authority.  Helsinki was proposed as a location.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Looking back on these ten years of shared history, I can with good reason state that the government made an excellent and right decision. We can be proud of your work and how it has been reflected on Finland and Helsinki.

The decision ensured that Finland and Italy came to a resolution. These two countries divided the two most important agencies that were in the process at that time. Italy played a key role in the negotiations, as it held the EU Presidency. Decisions concerning agencies require a consensus in the Council of Europe. That time decisions were made on a total of 10 agencies.

As I already mentioned, it has been clear that Finland's decision to change its objective was the correct one and timed wisely. The ECHA has proved to be a very important agency. As a small country, we can only be proud that we have had an opportunity to offer a location for this key actor in Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen

The work of the European Chemicals Agency is not always evident in people's everyday lives, even its influence on our living environment and health is central. The work of the European Chemicals Agency ensures that the harms of chemicals are minimised and the product safety is improved. 

The European Chemicals Agency is also very important to industry and its workers. It promotes their safety. Because of its work, better information is available on chemicals, and the harms they pose can be eliminated better. The ECHA's importance to developing countries outside of Europe is also important. Research data can be utilised globally promoting knowledge and safety. In this regard, I would like to thank you for your work with these important issues. We all know it requires a very special know-how. You are the forefront of development.

I would like to say for all of you that the conclusion of your first decade is an important milestone. Ten years is the age at which a foundation has been laid and experiences gained. The agency has become rooted in its surroundings; your home town has become a real home. However, the best is yet to come, along with future challenges and even greater victories.  The chemicals industry is developing all the time, and you are, in many ways, trendsetters.

We Finns are proud of each and every person who has worked at the European Chemicals Agency. You all are contributed its 10-year history and success. You have not only given the world and Europe a great deal, but also Finland and Helsinki. I would like to wish the European Chemicals Agency great success in the coming decades as well.

Let's create this success in the spirit of the Finland 100 celebrations — together.