Estonians want to work in Finland
According to a Gallup poll, some 400,000 Estonians would be eager to work in Finland when Estonia becomes a member of the EU. Of those willing to work in Finland, most are either young, unemployed or native Russian speakers. About four per cent of the respondents said that they would also move to Finland for longer employment contracts. This would mean a total of 44,000 Estonians would be willing to move to Finland. Over a quarter of those who took part in the poll said that they would accept lower pay than their Finnish counterparts. Estonians, however, wish primarily to work in their own country. It has been estimated that the level of preparation in Finland regarding the consequences of EU enlargement to the East is generally low, but concerning Estonia's possible accession, the Finns have a positive attitude. Two-thirds of Finns think Finland should support Estonia's candidacy.
Budget proposal passed to Parliament
The government passed the budget proposal to the Eduskunta, which has just returned from its summer holiday. The proposal showed a surplus of almost FIM (Finnish marks) 13 billion (USD 1.9 billion). The parliament will debate the proposal until around Christmas. The future of the Finnish economy looks bright, thus it was relatively easy for the government to finish the proposal, and it is expected to pass without major set-backs. The state is also able to reduce state debt by FIM 15 billion. The most important thing in the new budget for ordinary taxpayers will be an income tax reduction, which will reduce average taxes on wages by 1.5 per cent.
Bank of Finland
The National Bank of Finland received 39 applications for two open posts in its executive committee. The Parliamentary Supervisory Committee selected eight candidates, who will be evaluated next Monday, and the final candidates are to be named on Tuesday. The President will make the final decision for the nominations. The nominations to the Bank of Finland have been political, and currently at least half of the remaining eight candidates are from the Centre Party or possess similar views.
Many young Finns have a weak knowledge of history, according to reseach by Nuori Kansalainen (Young Citizen). For instance, the military side of the former Pact of Amity, Co-operation and Support is over-emphasized in the youths' thinking. The research shows that also particularly hazy in their thinking is the difference between the Finnish-Soviet Pact and Soviet Union's agreements with the countries of the former Warsaw Pact. When it comes to Finland's connections with Hitler's Third Reich, young Finns think that Finland kept a clear distance from the Nazis. Swedish-speaking youths in Finland had an even higher denial rate of Finnish political leaders' sympathies for Nazi Germany. Approximately 1000 Finns between the ages of 14 and 15 took part in the research.
Underage wives cause problems
Some of the wives of Polish Roma seeking refuge in Finland are girls between the ages of 14 and 15, but no official marriages certificates are available, and Finnish authorities find the situation problematic. According to Finnish law, girls that young cannot get married. The Ministry of Labour is currently preparing guidelines for refugee reception centres on how to deal with these Romany cases.
Critical Europeans in Helsinki
The Helsinki Forum gathered critical thinkers from 36 countries in Helsinki this week. The closing panel, "Whose Europe?", is set to take place on 9 September. Among those attending will be Slavenka Drakulić of Croatia, Jaan Kaplinski of Estonia and Georg Henrik von Wright of Finland.
According to a recent survey, young people, and especially young women, are taking more risks in their sex lives than before. Another survey shows that school children have more lax attitudes towards mild drugs than before.
Finland and the EU charter of fundamental rights
Finland finds the EU's new outline for the charter of fundamental rights to be more or less satisfactory. However, there are some changes which Finland would like to see made in the document, for example, the section on anti-discrimination. Finland fears that a law protecting EU citizens from discrimination might indirectly allow discrimination against the citizens of other countries. There are differences of opinion also among other EU countries regarding fundamental rights. The big issue is whether fundamental rights should be accepted just as a declaration, or whether they should be included in the new EU constitution. The EU's new document on fundamental rights is, however, expected to be accepted in the Nice European Council meeting in December.
Finland's EU payments rise
Finland will have to pay FIM 227 million (USD 33 million) marks more next year to the EU than this year. In total, the Finnish share of the payments is nearly FIM 7.2 billion (USD 1.06 billion). The major factor causing the increase in payments is the increase in the EU's expenditure.
EU survey on employment
The EU is demanding a strong means with which to fight unemployment in all member states. The European Commission notes that Finland has been able to ease the tax burden slightly, but income taxation is still too high, compared to the EU average. In addition, the Commission demands that Finland support lifelong education for older employees. In a survey of the employment situation, the Commission points out that the economy in the EU area is growing, and the future seems bright.
And in other news...
Police in the town of Porvoo had to deal with a very unusual traffic accident in a supermarket parking lot early this week. A three-year-old boy found his parents' car keys, while they were inside shopping. After a 20-metre drive, his journey ended as he crashed into a parked car. The youngster was not charged, but the police did have a word with his parents.
President Tarja Halonen chaired the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York. Halonen's joint chair was Namibian President Sam Nujoma.
A modest looking pine in the Meilahti district of Helsinki has been estimated to be over 320 years old. Considering the age of the tree, it is appropriate that it is located near the President's place of residence, Mäntyniemi.
Aleksi Vakkuri, 11 September 2000
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