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Finnish Parliament OKs Membership in European Union

November 19, 1994|Associated Press

HELSINKI, Finland — Finnish lawmakers endorsed membership in the European Union on Friday, paving the way for the country to join the political and trade bloc next year.

Despite a filibuster that delayed the vote by several weeks, the EU bill passed, 152-45.

"I'm relieved," Prime Minister Esko Aho said. "The long, arduous task, at least on Finland's part, is now over."

Anti-EU lawmakers, mainly from Aho's Center party, delayed the vote until after Sweden's referendum last Sunday, hoping a Swedish "no" would help block ratification in Finland. But Swedish voters passed the referendum with 52% in favor.

Last month, 57% of 4 million Finnish voters approved EU membership in a referendum.

Norwegians will vote Nov. 28 on whether they want to join.

With the Nordic nations and Austria, which has already approved joining, the union would grow to 16 members encompassing 375 million people.

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