Morning headlines: Monday 19th November 2018

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Minister to Brussels for crunch Brexit talks

Europe Minister Sampo Terho (Blue) is in Brussels today attending key Brexit talks. It comes as the latest proposed deal between the UK and EU has been roundly ridiculed and criticized in Britain, with Prime Minister Theresa May uncertain if she can even get it approved by parliament – and the EU saying there’s no better deal available, and no more time to negotiate even if there was. In Brussels today, Terho will work to prepare for the special meeting of the European Council next week, where a political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom is due to be approved and the Union’s draft Brexit withdrawal agreement will be initiated on behalf of the Parliament and the Council. The Finnish government says they are “satisfied” with the current deal on the table.

Russian ambassador summoned over GPS jamming

Russia’s ambassador to Finland Pavel Kuznetsov has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry this morning, to receive an official complaint over his country’s efforts to jam GPS signals in Lapland recently. The Russians deny deliberately disrupting Finnish GPS signals but last week Finnish authorities said the jamming came from Russian territory. In a statement, the ministry says that Finnish authorities “are continuing to investigate the GPS signal disruption that occured during NATO’s ‘Trident Juncture’ military drills” which started at the end of October. The Norwegian government had already said that Russia was to blame for the GPS disruption. The Finnish Defence Forces alerted the Air Navigation Service ANS, who issued warnings to aircraft about widespread GPS problems in the area from north of Rovaniemi to the Norwegian border, and east of Kittilä to the Russian border.

Finnish satellite in SpaceX launch

A Finnish satellite, celebrating the country’s 100th anniversary of independence, will blast off into orbit later today. The launch is taking place in California, and the SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher will lift off around 21:00 this evening. The satellite, developed by a team at Aalto University, will be measuring space and atmospheric phenomena, including the Northern Lights. Read more about Finland’s space race, and Aalto University’s groundbreaking satellite development at our original story here.

Low turnout in church elections

With counting still underway after weekend parish council elections, the Lutheran Church says that turnout was just 14.4%. That’s down from 15.5% turnout just four years ago. But it’s a mixed picture across the country: in Tampere turnout was markedly down; while in Vantaa and Jyväskylä turnout increased. The elections were taking place to elect some 8300 people in 384 parishes. According to preliminary information around half the people voted to councils this year will be new to the role, while the average age of representatives is 55.5 years old.

Monday morning weather

After a relatively mild period, we’ve got a cold snap this week. Temperatures in Lapland this morning will be as low as -8°C and not much warmer down into central Finland either at -5°C. In the south west and in the capital city region temperatures are hovering around freezing at the start of the day.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Monday morning 18th November 2018 / Credit: FMI