Minister Toivakka: Finland concentrates help on Syria

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lenita Toivakka says that Finland focuses its development aid on Syria, its neighbours and Africa in the next few years, while Finland withdraws from Zambia and Vietnam. Finland’s aid this year, EUR 25 million, in Syria is targeted at UN organisations maintaining refugee camps. According to Ms Toivakka, in Africa Finland supports stable countries that receive refugees. She laments the cuts made in development aid but says they are necessary in the current economic situation.

Media:  Keskisuomalainen  , Keskisuomalainen + liitteet (E-edition, PDF) 

Date: 27.11.2015

Journalist: Tarja Kovanen

Main source: Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lenita Toivakka

Soini hopes Finland receives invitations to NATO meetings

Foreign Affairs Minister Timo Soini hopes that Finland would receive invitations to all NATO summits, not just those dealing with crisis management. « It would be very important that Finland could participate in these meetings and receive and give information, » he said. For example, Finland would have a lot to offer in questions related to Baltic Sea safety. Minister Soini finds that Finland’s NATO partnership is in a good shape. However, he hopes that NATO will share more information with Finland on events in nearby areas.

Media:  Helsingin Sanomat

Date: 2.12.2015

Journalist: Virve Kähkönen

Main source: Foreign Affairs Minister Timo Soini

EK gives up on extensive salary agreements for good

The Confederation of Finnish Industries, EK, is planning to change its rules in May next year so that it can no longer sign extensive labour market agreements. EK Board Chairman Matti Alahuhta says this does not mean an end to Finnish consensus but that consensus is transferred to Finnish work places. The current labour market negotiations will, however, be finished. The unions SAK and STTK hope that tripartite agreeing would not be abandoned entirely. Akava Chair Sture Fjäder does not reject local agreeing as long as it is not dictating.

Media:  Helsingin Sanomat

Date: 26.11.2015

Journalist: Teemu Luukka

Only one percent below the goal

The Ministry of Employment and the Economy reveals in a report that Finland is close to meeting EU targets for renewable energy. Renewable energy currently makes up 37% of the final energy consumption, just one percent below the 38% that Finland must reach by 2020. Reaching the target should not be a problem, since Finland is only getting started with the production of biogas, ethanol and wood-based diesel. Professor Raimo Lovio of the Aalto University noted that the total energy consumption has decreased and this helped with meeting the targets.

Media:  Turun Sanomat + liitteet (E-edition, PDF) 

Date: 26.11.2015

Minister for Trade reveals problem in Finland

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lenita Toivakka says Finland foremost needs more export companies. Last year, the overall value of Finland’s exports was approximately EUR 10 billion smaller than in 2008. She is particularly concerned that the SME sector’s share of exports is clearly smaller than the EU average. Ms Toivakka thinks the TTIP it is crucial for small export dependent countries like Finland. She emphasises that the EU is trying to negotiate a new kind of investment protection with the US. Moreover, Ms Toivakka expresses concern over the Schengen area’s future.

Media:  Uusi Suomi

Date: 21.11.2015

Soini and Orpo: Finland making changes to immigration policy

Finland is preparing changes to its immigration policy. Interior Minister Petteri Orpo said the Ministry would publish the changes next week. According to Minister Orpo, Finland is planning to change rules on uniting families and shorten residence permits for asylum seekers. Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini said the Nordic Foreign Ministers would meet to discuss the harmonisation of immigration policy. He expects border control to increase within the EU. Minister Soini believes that the Schengen Treaty will not be cancelled but the EU will stop following it, temporarily and suddenly realise that the change has become permanent.

Media:  Ilta-Sanomat

Timo Soini and Sweden’s Margot Wallström call for common immigration policy for Nordic Countries

Helsingin Sanomat reports that Finnish and Swedish Foreign Ministers Timo Soini and Margot Wallström would like to see Nordic foreign ministers in a joint meeting discussing the situation with asylum seekers and immigration policy. Mr Soini said that the ministers could meet during an EU-meeting, for example. There is a great need for coordination. Both Ministers found the incident between Turkey and Russia very serious. After Paris, the French Ambassadors in Finland and Sweden have contacted the Foreign Ministries, Mr Soini said.

Media:  Helsingin Sanomat

Date: 24.11.2015

Journalist: Anna-Liina Kauhanen

Main source: Timo Soini, Finland’s Foreign Minister & Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Foreign Minister