In the midst of an EU Council meeting, Helsingin Sanomat publishes an interview with Prime Minister Juha Sipilä in which he declares that EU matters take up ‘at least a third’ of his time and declares he’s pretty happy with EU defence policy despite rumblings that Finland didn’t get quite what it wanted from the so-called Permanent Structured Co-operation, or Pesco, EU defence initiative.
Finland isn’t leading any projects in Pesco, and the country’s satellite project was not included in the initiative. What’s more, there’s no mention in the Pesco imitative of commitments to aid other EU members in a crisis, which are laid down in the 2007 Lisbon Treaty. As most EU countries are members of NATO, they don’t feel quite the same urgency as Finland does to spell out the responsibilities of EU states to each other.
Even so, Sipilä tells HS that he’s very happy with the broad direction of Finnish defence policy.
“NATO isn’t terribly pressing for Finland now,” said Sipilä. “We have a clear position with Sweden, that co-operation has deepened. We have deepened co-operation with NATO and the EU, but we’re staying outside the (NATO) alliance. This position suits Finland.”
Sipilä said that he has a gentleman’s agreement with Stefan Löfven, the premier of Sweden, that the western neighbour will not join NATO without telling Finland first. He also explained his view that a single Finance Minister for the Eurozone, overseeing economic policy across the bloc, is not necessary and wouldn’t add much value.
“Who would want to be a Finance Minister without a budget? ” asked Sipilä.
Tampere 91-year-old fights eviction
Finnish media has extensively covered the story of a 91-year-old widow in Tampere who faces eviction from her flat today. Ilta-Sanomat reports that Liisa Tiuka owns two flats in the same building, via the Finnish system of shareholding in the building-specific limited company.
However the company’s board blames her for a bedbug infestation, saying that cleaners have been prevented from cleaning her apartment. The case has gone to court, with a compromise agreement that Tiuka allows the professionals to do their work.
She allegedly broke that agreement by asking one cleaner to stop vacuuming, but she and her neighbour now claim they have their own weekly cleaner (who works much more quietly) and the apartment is in good condition.
The building company, however, says it can and will evict her on Monday.
Is your Christmas tree Finnish?
Rural paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus has a seasonal story on the origin of Christmas trees, just as they are being conveyed to hums from Hanko to Utsjoki. Up to one in ten Christmas trees in Finland, reports the paper, is imported.
That means some 150,000 trees come from abroad. The paper carries quotes from a Finnish forest centre spokesman who claims that Finnish tree growers don’t use fertilisers, and that the carbon footprint of a Finnish tree is lower than an imported one.
The tree expert does say that the wet spring has caused an uptick in fungal infections among Finnish trees, however–so be careful when picking yours, whether from the forest or the market square.