Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens) briefed the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee about the Nato summit in Spain via a video link on 7 July 2022. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

MINISTER for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens) says Finland intends to impose restrictions on tourist visa applications from Russia.

Haavisto on Thursday told Helsingin Sanomat that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has in the past couple of weeks explored options that would be both legal and effective at preventing a logjam of tourist visa applications from Russians.

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Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, was photographed arriving for an extraordinary meeting of the National Coalition Parliamentary Group in Helsinki on 21 June. The group convened to discuss allegations made against its now-former member, Wille Rydman. The controversy appears not to made a major dent to the popularity of the right-wing opposition party, indicates the latest opinion poll by YLE. (Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva)

THE NATIONAL COALITION may have seen a slight dip in support but remains comfortably the most popular political party in Finland.

YLE on Thursday reported that 23.4 per cent of respondents to its latest opinion poll expressed their backing to the right-wing opposition party, signalling a dip of 0.3 percentage points from the previous month.

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Nuijamaa crossing border. Photo: Tuomas Vitikainen

Customs intensified the controls of individuals travelling to Russia from 22 July to 27 July at the border crossing points of Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala. A little more than 2 500 controls were carried out and of them, around 100 cases led to consideration of further measures due to sanctions.

- When Russia lifted its Covid-19 restrictions on border crossings, we needed to increase the enforcement of sanctions in passenger traffic, says Enforcement Director Mikko Grönberg about the background to the intensified controls.

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School transport subsidy is available by application, and a separate application is required for each academic year. Students are advised to submit the application to their school well before the beginning of the autumn term to avoid delays in processing.

Kela grants school transport subsidy to students in secondary education, which includes for instance upper secondary schools and vocational education.

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Seized narcotics. Photo: Finnish Customs

Finnish Customs has investigated an organisation that brought in and distributed amphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine. The investigation covers several aggravated narcotics offences and firearms offences. The total street value of the seized narcotics is 1 634 000 euros.

In March 2022, more than 46 kilograms of amphetamine, equipment for extraction of amphetamine, more than 60 grams of cocaine, 784 grams of marijuana and various unlicensed firearms, such as a sawn-off shotgun, were seized from the organisation by Finnish Customs.

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Tank carriages at the railway station in Siilinjärvi, Northern Savonia, in June 2021. The European Commission has asked Finland to migrate to the European standard rail gauge of 1,435 millimetres on all new and most existing rail connections. (Ritva Siltalahti – Lehtikuva)

FINLAND will not subscribe to the changes in the rail gauge requested by the European Commission, states Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka (SDP).

The European Commission has proposed that the country develop all new rail connections using the European standard track gauge of 1,435 millimetres and devise a plan to transition to the gauge also on most existing rail connections.

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The sales of newly built houses fell in Finland between April and June. The number of sales plummeted by 45 per cent year-on-year, with Oulu the only locality to register an increase. (Hanna Matikainen – Lehtikuva)

A BAFFLING TURNAROUND has occurred in the real estate market in Helsinki, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

Statistics Finland on Friday published preliminary data indicating both that the prices of small houses have begun to decrease and that the price increases of houses of all sizes have slowed down in the capital region.

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People enjoyed the warm weather on a beach in Lauttasaari, Helsinki, on 21 July 2022. The mercury rose above 25°C in some parts of the country on a total of 16 days in July, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). (Anni Ågren – Lehtikuva)

TEMPERATURES in July were normal in western parts of Finland but higher than long-term averages in eastern and northern parts of Finland, reports the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).

The monthly mean temperature varied from roughly 18°C in southern and south-eastern parts of the country to roughly 13°C in Lapland. The mean temperature deviated from the long-term average especially in Utsjoki, Lapland, rising about two degrees higher than the average in 1991–2020.

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An employee made notes on a brochure in a Danske Bank in Helsinki in March 2018. Recent statistics reveal that demand for new housing loans has decreased significantly from 2021. (Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)

THE SPIKE in demand for housing loans caused by the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on working life appears to have come to an end in Finland, writes Helsingin Sanomat.

The Bank of Finland on Monday released statistics showing that the value of new drawdowns of housing loans decreased by about 380 million euros year-on-year to 2,690 million euros in May and by 380 million euros year-on-year to 2,620 million euros in June.

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Overhead power cables in Vantaa in March 2018. The Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy is set to launch an information campaign that encourages households to reduce their energy consumption as of late August. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

THE MINISTRY of Employment and the Economy is gearing up to launch a campaign urging citizens to reduce energy consumption, reports YLE.

A ministry spokesperson confirmed to the public broadcasting company last weekend that the campaign is under preparation but refrained from commenting on its content in further detail. The initiative for such a campaign, the spokesperson said, came originally from the European Commission.

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Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko (Centres) reacted during the final plenary session of the spring term in the Parliament House in Helsinki on 28 June 2022. Saarikko on Wednesday conceded that significant income tax cuts may not be possible in the present economic situation, particularly if labour market organisations fail to exercise moderation on wage increases. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

THE TAXATION of wages and pensions can be lowered only if labour market organisations settle on moderate wage increases, estimates Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko (Centre), reports Helsingin Sanomat.

“An income tax break is still on the table. It’s important, though, to tie its implementation to the risk of recession looking large and us being assured that labour market organisations reach rational wage deals,” she stated in conjunction with the budget negotiations of the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday.

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Passengers at Helsinki Airport on 5 July 2022. Finland is looking to trial the use of digital travel documents in air travel between Finland and Croatia. (Saara Peltola – Lehtikuva)

FINLAND is eager to trial the use of digital travel documents in cross-border travel as the first country in the European Union, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

The European Commission has expressed its hope that some member states carry out such pilot projects to accumulate experiences that allow it to present a proposal for implementing digital travel documents in the 27-country bloc.

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A family leave reform goes into effect on 1 August 2022. The changes introduced in the reform apply to parents expecting a child on or after 4 September 2022. The reform will apply to some 37,000 parents this year.

Three new parental benefits known individually as special pregnancy allowance, pregnancy allowance and parental allowance are introduced in the family leave reform. Applications for all the benefits introduced under the new legislation can be submitted as of 1 August 2022.

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The US Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, reacted during a news briefing at the US Capitol on 12 July 2022. McConnell on Wednesday spoke in support of Finland and Sweden’s bids to join Nato, arguing that the two countries would strengthen the defence alliance. (Alex Wong – AFP/Lehtikuva)

THE US SENATE on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of welcoming Finland and Sweden into Nato.

The Senate voted 95 for and 1 against for ratifying the accession protocols following a process that went on 90 minutes beyond its intended three-hour duration, representing an increasingly rare moment of unity between Democrats and Republicans.

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The amount of most Kela benefits will be increased in August as an additional adjustment was made to the National Pensions Index due to inflation.

Many benefits provided by Kela are tied to the National Pensions Index. The National Pensions Index is normally adjusted once a year, at the beginning of January, but now Parliament decided that an additional adjustment will be made to the index for the period 1.8-31.12.2022.

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Finland ranked first in the European Union’s digital performance comparison. The European Commission’s annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) monitors the digital performance of EU Member States and tracks their progress in digitalisation. Finland has been at the top of the list for several years, ranking number two in 2021 and number one in 2019 and 2020.

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