In the run-up to the vote expected in late May, the Finnish parliament has begun the debate on the construction of a fifth reactor. It is thought that the vote will be close, with media reports claiming a third of the lawmakers are for more nuclear power and a third against. The remainder are undecided or have declined to say how they will vote. The 200 legislators have been given permission by their parties to vote according to their conscience.

At the opening of the debate, minister of trade and industry Sinikka Mönkäre insisted that a new unit would help guarantee a secure energy supply. “For consumers, the project secures employment, well-being and a high standard of living,” she said.

During a visit by Norwegian prime minister Kjell-Magne Bondevik, Finnish prime minister Paavo Lipponen spoke out in favour of a fifth nuclear unit in the country. “If Europe begins to invest in imported natural gas, as appears to be the case, prices will eventually go up,” he said. “This is why also Finland needs a new reactor.” Lipponen also warned against imposing a form of “energy imperialism” on countries seeking to join the European Union. “How is it that some are trying to make the EU a real fossil monster, dependent on coal and natural gas? We must keep nuclear power as one of the options.” Lipponen said that Finland had opted for energy diversity because “our concern is that we are becoming too dependent on imported electricity.”