Parliamentary Assembly session : 23 – 27 September 2002 

Outi Ojala, President of the Nordic Council

Outi Ojala was born on June 28th, 1946 in Lappee in Eastern Finland. Her current hometown is Helsinki. Her professional training is that of a specialised nurse. In the 1980’s an active unionist became also a leftist political activist. Outi was elected to the City Council of Helsinki in 1989 and to the Finnish Parliament in 1991. She gave up her seat in the Parliament when she was elected to the European Parliament in October 1996. Outi Ojala has been a member of the Left Alliance party board 1995-97.

Outi Ojala as MEP

In the European Parliament Outi Ojala is a member of the Confederal Group of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE / NGL). The GUE (Gauche Unitaire Européenne) Group consists of altogether 34 members from eight different countries. The subgroup NGL (Nordic Green Left) is made up of five Nordic members who work together in especially environmental and equality issues.

In her political work Outi Ojala has concentrated, in addition to the questions concerning her professional field, social and health politics, on external policy issues. In the European Parliament she is currently working on questions related with the two committees she is a member of, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Regional Politics Committee. As the vice-president of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs Outi emphasises the raising of the level of social protection and social services in the whole of Europe.

Outi Ojala is a member of the Estonia Delegation and a substitute of the Latvia Delegation at the Parliament. The delegations observe the situation of the respective countries and keep in contact with their institutions. As in Finland, speaking for the rights of minorities is an essential part of Outi’s work. During 1995 she was elected president of the Advisory Board on Roma Issues in Finland. In 1997, she was chosen as the president of the Equal Rights for Gays and Lesbians Intergroup at the European Parliament. She is also vice-president of the Ageing Intergroup.

Outi Ojala believes that the members of the European Parliament have the power to influence decision making despite the limited powers of the Parliament. Outi is in favour of extending these powers, but remarks that the voice of the Parliament is already now heard quite well especially in the European Commission. Outi’s views on the development of Europe have become clearer during her work in Brussels. "Stronger than previously, I consider that the European peoples and states, in spite of their differences, need each other. The European Parliament is a channel for the citizens: it represents the point of view of the citizens"