President Alexander Stubb smiled during a post-inauguration press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on Friday, 1 March 2024. Stubb outlined that Finnish foreign and security policy will be founded on value-based realism. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

“FINNISH foreign and security policy will be founded on value-based realism,” President Alexander Stubb outlined in his inaugural address to parliament on Friday, 1 March, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

He added that value-based realism stems, on the one hand, from a strong alliance with both Nato and the European Union and, on the other, from confidence that reforming and strengthening the UN remains the bedrock of international peace and system.

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LEHTIKUVA

In 2023, the Finnish Customs Authority reported a collection of approximately €308 million in taxes, with €162 million remitted to the European Union as part of the EU Customs Union obligations. The remaining €146 million was collected for the Finnish state. This financial performance reflects the critical role of customs operations in national and European fiscal landscapes.

The largest portion of the tax revenue came from customs duties, totaling about €216 million last year.

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The main entrance of the Salo hospital, a part of Turku University Hospital (TYKS), in Salo, Southwest Finland, on 31 January 2024. Faced with substantial budget deficits and state-imposed adjustment requirements, Finland’s well-being services counties are widely rationalising their service networks. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

SUBSTANTIAL budget deficit and austerity measures have created tensions in many well-being services counties in Finland, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

In Central Ostrobothnia, Minna Korkiakoski-Västi stepped down last week as the managing director of the well-being services county, citing lack of confidence in the elected leadership, namely the county council. Sari Innanen (Centre), the chairperson of the county council, was forced to step aside shortly thereafter after losing the confidence of her party, according to YLE.

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The Finnish Environment Institute monitors international waste transfers in cooperation with, among others, Customs and the police. In addition to inspections carried out at ports and border crossings, the Finnish Environment Institute conducts corporate inspections in collaboration with environmental authorities that oversee companies. - Okko Saastamoinen, Finnish Environment Institute

In a significant environmental and industrial shift, Finland has witnessed a dramatic increase in the import of waste requiring waste transfer permits, reaching a record high of approximately 310,000 tonnes in 2023. This growth not only underscores the country's evolving waste management strategies but also reflects broader changes in the international waste market.

The Finnish Environment Institute (Syke), the authority responsible for international waste transfers, highlighted this unprecedented rise in its preliminary data for 2023.

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Aleksanteri Kivimäki attended a hearing in the District Court of Western Uusimaa on Tuesday, 27 February. Kivimäki faces up to eight years in prison for the obtaining and ultimately releasing sensitive information on tens of thousands of patients of Psychotherapy Centre Vastaamo. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

ALEKSANTERI KIVIMÄKI should be sentenced to the maximum penalty of eight years in prison for what prosecutors describe as an exceptional crime, the hacking of Psychotherapy Centre Vastaamo.

“A crime such as this had never even been thought of when the penalties were decreed. It’s hard for us to think of a more serious collection of acts,” prosecutor Bo-Niklas Lundqvist was quoted saying in his closing argument at the District Court of Western Uusimaa on Wednesday by YLE.

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The logo of VR at Helsinki Central Station on 12 February 2024. VR has submitted its report of the widespread long-distance service cancellations it made in response to the detection of track damage, calling for a thorough third-party probe into the incident. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

VR, the state-owned railway company of Finland, has presented its account of the disruption witnessed in long-distance rail services on 13 February to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The report may contain more questions than answers, as well as an unusual mystery concerning the fate of a report made by locomotive drivers, according to YLE.

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The publication "Streamlining Work-Based Immigration - The One-Stop-Shop Principle and Two-Week Service Promise" offers tools for decision-makers to enhance Finland's competitiveness and attract international workforce. Photo: N2 Albino, Marek Sabogal

In a bold move to enhance Finland's appeal to international talent and boost its economy, the Finnish startup community, in collaboration with Neogames Finland ry, Teknologiateollisuus ry, Suomen Ekonomit ry, and the City of Helsinki, has put forward a series of initiatives aimed at simplifying the work-based immigration process. The proposals, detailed in the newly released report "Streamlining Work-Based Immigration: The One-Stop-Shop Principle and Two-Week Service Promise," seek to make Finland a more attractive destination for skilled workers by reducing bureaucratic hurdles and accelerating the immigration process.

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Pekka Aittakumpu (Centre) had the floor in the session hall of the Parliament House in Helsinki on Wednesday, 28 February 2024. Aittakumpu expressed his support for amending the language act in the vein of Estonia and France, two countries where he said it would be illegal to operate a café that serves only in English. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

PEKKA AITTAKUMPU (Centre) demands that the language act be amended to protect Finnish against the dominance of English.

“The act could decree that also private sector operators must provide services in Finnish. In Estonia and France, for example, the language act imposes obligations also on private service providers. In these countries, a café that provides service only in English is illegal,” he was quoted saying in the Parliament House on Wednesday by Helsingin Sanomat.

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Teuvo Hakkarainen, a Member of the European Parliament for the Finns Party, delivered a speech at the populist right-wing party’s party conference in Tampere on 13 August 2023. Hakkarainen on Monday announced he is seeking a second term in Brussels, saying he does not accept the party’s refusal to nominate him. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

TEUVO HAKKARAINEN (PS) on Monday announced he intends to seek another term in the European Parliament.

Hakkarainen, who won a seat in the European Parliament in 2019 after three terms in the Finnish Parliament, revealed that he has been asked to run in the elections by a number of his party comrades.

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Spruce logs and stump at a final felling site owned by UPM in Janakkala, Southern Finland. Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) has published an estimate indicating that recent and expected felling volumes have pushed the much-trumpeted national carbon neutrality target further out of reach. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

THE MUCH-TOUTED Finnish goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2035 is slipping well out of reach, according to Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

Luke stated in its latest assessment of the climate plan for the land use sector that the goal is becoming increasingly elusive mainly because the recent and expected levels of logging are impeding the ability of forests to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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LEHTIKUVA

Last year, Finland recorded a total of 2,260 fires originating from electrical devices and installations, according to data from the rescue services' PRONTO database. This marks a decrease from the previous year's figure of over 2,400 incidents. Among these, stoves and ovens were identified as the starting point for 860 fires, down from more than 900 in the preceding year. Notably, these stove-related fires are rarely due to appliance faults, with human carelessness frequently identified as the cause. Tragically, these electrical fires resulted in 13 fatalities across eight separate incidents.

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Minister of Education Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) reacted at a news conference in Helsinki on Tuesday, 27 February 2024. Henriksson revealed she will hand over the reins of the Swedish People’s Party. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

MINISTER of Education Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) on Tuesday announced she will relinquish the reins of the Swedish People’s Party.

“It’s also an extremely big relief to tell you that I won’t be a leadership candidate in the party’s next party conference,” she communicated to reporters in Helsinki on Tuesday, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

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A man fishing in Helsinki in April 2021. A social movement has sprouted against a proposed battery material plant in Hamina, Southern Finland, over concerns about the plant’s impact on the state of the Baltic Sea. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

THE GRANTING of an environmental permit has spawned a social movement against a battery material plant in Hamina, Southern Finland.

The Regional Administrative Agency (AVI) for Southern Finland on 12 February granted the plant an environmental permit for producing around 60,000 tonnes of chemicals a year. While the permit imposes limits on the amount of metals, nitrogen and particles that can be released into air and water, it allows the plant to discharge effectively untreated wastewater into the Baltic Sea.

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Photo: Sami Kelhä, Ilmarinen

In January, businesses within the Ilmarinen Economic Index experienced a 2.6% decrease in workforce numbers compared to the previous year, continuing a trend of employment challenges across Finland. The most significant declines were observed in the staffing services, construction, and hospitality sectors. Regionally, the largest drops in workforce numbers were seen in Eastern and Northern Finland.

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LEHTIKUVA

In a notable shift in the Finnish real estate market, prices for old condominiums across the country saw a significant decrease of 5.6% in January compared to the same month last year, with a 2.9% drop from December alone.

Statistics Finland's Senior Statistician, Anu Rämö, highlighted a slight stabilization in the rate of decline.

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Minister of Employment Arto Satonen (NCP) spoke to reporters in Helsinki on Thursday, 22 February 2024. Satonen argued that the restrictions the government intends to impose on political and sympathy strikes create a kind of certainty that could encourage companies to invest in Finland. (Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva)

THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT is intent on moving forward with its much-debated restrictions to political and sympathy strikes largely in accordance with the government programme, suggest remarks made by Minister of Employment Arto Satonen (NCP) on Thursday.

The government is expected to submit the bill to parliament at the turn of the month and enact the amendments in July, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

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