Passengers and the schedule display completely red due to canceled train services at Helsinki Central Railway Station on February 13, 2024. Fintraffic's traffic controllers did not go to their shifts on Tuesday as part of a series of political strikes by trade unions opposing the government's planned changes to working life. LEHTIKUVA

Finland in the world press

Here is a selection of what the international press has published about Finland in the last week:

Strike wave in Finland—a legacy of trust in transition?

The article discussing the recent wave of strikes in Finland was published in Social Europe on February 13.

The article explores the reasons behind the strikes, triggered by government interference in workers' rights and changes in labour and social legislation.

Finland, known for its strong tradition of cooperation between social partners, has seen decentralization in recent years, leading to sectoral-based negotiations. The government aims to cap wage increases and reduce political strikes, which has sparked opposition from workers’ organizations. This shift has been accompanied by changes in legislation and the withdrawal of some industry associations from centralized agreements.

Concerns arise about the erosion of the tripartite principle and the shift towards a more regulatory approach in labour legislation. The government’s increasing reliance on legislative measures rather than negotiated agreements raises questions about the future of this collaborative approach.

The strike wave reflects broader changes in the labour market and highlights the potential erosion of Finland’s trust-based social model.

The author, Ulla Liukkunen is professor of labour law and private international law at the University of Helsinki. She has researched widely on comparative labour law, international labour law, transnational law and decent work.

Original story was published by Social Europe on 13.02.2024 and can be found here.

Life along the closed land border between Finland and Russia

The article about the closure of all eight crossing points between Finland and Russia was published in Euronews on February 13. The article provides insight into the aftermath of Finnish government’s decision to close the border, as they cite the threat posed by illegal migration facilitated by Russia. This closure is expected to last until at least mid-April and comes amid concerns about national security.

The Finnish government alleges that Russia is actively aiding illegal migrants, providing them with support such as money, food, accommodation, and transportation. This is viewed by Finnish officials as a form of “hybrid attack” against Finland, particularly following Finland’s recent NATO membership and its opposition to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The closure of the border crossings has raised concerns among NGOs, who argue that it puts the lives of asylum seekers at risk. Despite the criticism, recent polls indicate strong support among Finns for the border closures, with up to 80% of respondents in favour.

The article also sheds light on the experiences of asylum seekers affected by the border closures. Some asylum seekers, such as Nabil from Morocco, acknowledge receiving assistance from Russian authorities to cross into Finland. The closure has led to increased scrutiny of Finland’s immigration policies, with discussions about potential changes to asylum quotas and family reunification policies.

Original story was published by Euronews on 13.02.2024 and can be found here.

A temperature check on NATO’s ‘Arctic Sparta’

Finland’s evolving military landscape including its closest base to mainland Russia, now accessible to U.S. troops, was covered in an article by Foreign Policy on February 9. The article looks into Lapland Border Guard base in the town of Ivalo as an example, where American troops and equipment are authorized to be stationed, following Finland’s NATO membership and a defense cooperation agreement with the U.S.

This strategic move comes amid heightened tensions in the Arctic region, where Finland is bolstering its military capabilities to counterbalance Russia’s presence. Finland’s accession to NATO signifies a departure from its longstanding policy of military neutrality, transforming it into what some describe as an “Arctic Sparta” with highly trained forces.

The article highlights Finland’s military preparedness, including its mandatory military service, extensive infantry, and expertise in Arctic warfare. It also mentions Finland’s strong artillery capabilities and recent defense acquisitions, such as the F-35 fighter jets from the United States.

However, Finland’s enhanced military presence along its border with Russia also raises concerns about potential escalations and hybrid threats from Moscow, including weaponized migration and covert operations.

“It is premature to assess what will possibly be invested in Ivalo, and the criteria are not public, but the overall result will be good, and it will deepen the cooperation between our countries,” says Ville Ahtiainen, the deputy commander of the Lapland Border Guard.

The author, Andrea Prada Bianchi is a journalist based in New York. His work has appeared in National Geographic, the Intercept, Al Jazeera, Atlas Obscura, and several Italian publications.

Original story was published by Foreign Policy on 09.02.2024 and can be found here.

Fate Of EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Law worsens as Finland pulls support

Finland’s reservations against the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CS3D) was covered in an article by Forbes on February 7. The CS3D aims to establish a corporate due diligence standard for sustainability issues, focusing on environmental concerns, climate change, and human rights within the EU.  The article explains Finland's objections to the CS3D, which relate to the creation of civil liability for corporations and the introduction of class action lawsuits, that are relatively new aspects in Finnish law.

Finland’s stance on CS3D stem from its concerns regarding the compatibility of certain aspects of the proposed legislation with existing Finnish law. Despite efforts by Finnish Member and Vice President of the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala, to persuade the Finnish Parliament’s Grand Committee to reverse its position, the likelihood of a change seems slim.

Furthermore, the CS3D introduces the possibility of class action lawsuits, allowing groups of individuals affected by corporate activities to collectively seek damages. Finland’s legal framework may not be fully equipped to handle the complexities and implications of such lawsuits, which could pose challenges in implementation and enforcement.

The withdrawal of support from key EU member states like Germany and Finland suggests a significant setback for the CS3D. This erosion of backing raises concerns among experts that the directive may not only face delays but could also ultimately fail to come into effect.

Original story was published by Forbes on 07.02.2024 and can be found here.

Finnish flash estimate signals economy slips back into recession

Finland’s economy’s recent signs of slipping back into a recession based on a flash estimate, was covered in an article by Bloomberg on February 14. The article gives details of this downturn, attributed to a decline in industrial output and services.

The flash estimate from Statistics Finland reveals a 0.4% contraction in GDP for the fourth quarter of the previous year, following a 0.9% contraction in the preceding quarter.

The article highlights the factors contributing to the recession, including high borrowing costs, weakened consumer spending after two years of rapid growth, and subdued growth in export-oriented sectors.

The outlook for Finland's economy remains subdued, with the country’s central bank predicting another year of contraction. However, projections from other entities, such as Finland’s top mortgage lenders and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), vary. While Finland’s central bank anticipates stagnation, the IMF forecasts a modest growth of 0.5%, driven by consumption recovery and improved financial conditions.

Original story was published by Bloomberg on 14.02.2024 and can be found here.

Deep abandoned mine In Finland to be turned into a giant gravity battery

The transformation of the Pyhäsalmi Mine in Finland into a massive gravity battery was covered in an article by IFL Science on February 7. The mine is now capable of storing 2 megawatts of energy.

The article highlights the innovative approach of using abandoned mine shafts to create sustainable energy storage infrastructure, contributing to the transition towards a more renewable and environmentally friendly energy landscape.

As renewable energy sources become more prevalent, the need for effective energy storage solutions becomes crucial. The article shows the benefits of gravity batteries of storing excess energy by utilizing potential energy.

In this case, weights such as water or sand are moved upwards during periods of excess energy production and then released to power turbines when energy demand is high. Scottish company Gravitricity has developed a system to install in disused mineshafts, with the Pyhäsalmi Mine being the latest location for implementation.

This technology aims to provide a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional energy storage methods, without relying on rare earth metals.

Original story was published by IFL Science on 07.02.2024 and can be found here.