Boats in the port of Svedjehamn, Finland
Boats in the port of Svedjehamn, Finland. Photo (C) Benjamin Suomela /
Monday 10 July 2017 -
11:45 to 13:00

Join us in the city of Pori, Finland on MTV3 and online as we debate what is arguably the biggest question at the heart of European politics today.

In partnership with the British Embassy and as part of the SuomiAreena public debate forum, the British Council will be participating on a panel of political, diplomatic and cultural experts from the UK and Finland which asks what the future holds for their countries, organisations and the rest of Europe following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

The debate will be held in English.

About the panellists 

Pekka Isosomppi - Press Counsellor, Embassy of Finland, London

Pekka is responsible for the Finnish Embassy’s public diplomacy activities in the UK. He took up the post of Press Counsellor in 2012, having previously worked for several years at Nokia in various global communications management posts. He studied International Politics and Sociology at the University of Helsinki and has extensive experience of the UK media environment and of the role the British press plays in shaping public opinion.

Elina Lepomäki MP – Finland-UK Friendship Group, Finnish Parliament

Elina Lepomäki is a member of Finland’s National Coalition Party and has represented the constituency of Uusimaa since July 2014. As well as her role in the cross-border Finland-UK friendship group, she is chairman of the board of the Libera Foundation, an independent and pro-free market think tank. In the Finnish parliament, she has sat on a number of public affairs committees including the Grand Committee, the Constitutional Law Committee and the Finance Committee. She holds two Masters of Science – in computer science from Helsinki University and in financial economics from Helsinki School of Economics – and a doctorate in systems analysis from Aalto University. She is also the founder and co-owner of a number of start-ups, including NOMO Jeans Ltd, Transfluent Ltd, Enevo Ltd, Xemet Ltd and PopUpCompany.

Baroness Meta Ramsay – UK House of Lords, UK-Finland Friendship Group

Baroness Ramsay is a Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland. A fluent Russian speaker who studied at the University of Glasgow and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, she served in the British diplomatic service from 1969 to 1991 and for Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6) in Stockholm and Helsinki. From 1992-4 she was foreign policy adviser to the leader of the UK Labour party John Smith and special adviser to Jack Cunningham, the UK’s Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, from 1994-5. In 2005 she was appointed a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, which provides parliamentary oversight of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), GCHQ and the Security Service (MI5). She is also an advisory council member of the foreign-policy think-tank, the Foreign Policy Centre.

Richard Shackleton – Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy Helsinki

Richard Shackleton took up his post in Helsinki in September 2016. Before this, his UK foreign office roles included work on energy, climate change and infrastructure development in a wide range of European, Asian and South American countries – most recently India and Mexico. He also held posts as the Deputy Director of the British Council in Colombia, as Director of the Children’s Museum in Bogota and on the UK’s Mission to the UN in New York. He studied French and Spanish at the University of Hull.

Moderator: Sam Kingsley, British Embassy Helsinki

Sam Kingsley works on EU and economic affairs in the political team at the British Embassy Helsinki. Before joining the embassy in 2016 he spent ten years as a current affairs journalist and TV producer, first in the UK for the BBC and Channel 4, and then from 2013 for the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE.

About SuomiAreena 

SuomiAreena is a public debate forum held every year in July in the city of Pori. This year some 60,000 visitors are expected to take part in more than 150 events between the 10th and 12th July as Finland celebrates one hundred years of independence. 

The forum is held alongside the oldest jazz festival in Europe, Pori Jazz, meaning that visitors can enjoy lively discussion during the day and musical highlights in the evening. British artists this year include the remarkable Cinematic Orchestra, Jethro Tull, Jamiroquai and Michael Kiwanuka. 

SuomiAreena is organised by the biggest Finnish commercial Broadcasting Company MTV3 and the city of Pori and involves many national and international partners from the fields of politics, society, culture and sports. Notable international guests in recent years have included the then President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

How to join

All events are free. The debate takes place on Antinkatu 5, one of six main stages.