Morning headlines: Thursday 21st March 2019

News Now Finland morning news headlines and weather first, every weekday at 09:00.

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PM to Brussels for Brexit summit 

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) is joining other European Union leaders in Brussels today, to discuss the ongoing chaos around Britain’s departure from the EU. Brexit is supposed to happen just eight days from now but there’s no clear path of how, or even whether it will take place. British Prime Minister Theresa May has asked for an extension to the Brexit date but has been told that EU leaders will only give a short extension – until 23rd May or 30th June – if she can get the withdrawal agreement approved by parliament in London. That agreement had previously been voted on twice by British MPs and heavily defeated both times. So if it fails to get through parliament next week, Britain could still face a so-called ‘hard brexit’ where it leaves the EU without a deal.

Trump’s ex-UN Ambassador criticises Finnish health care 

Donald Trump’s former United Nations Ambassador has been critical of Finland’s health care system. Writing on Twitter, Nikki Haley, who quit her job at the end of last year as a possible prelude to running against Trump for the Republican Party 2020 presidential nominee, said that health care costs in America are too high, but “comparing us to Finland is ridiculous. Ask them how their health care is. You won’t like the answer”. She was messaging to Bernie Sanders who highlighted the cost of having a baby in America vs Finland. In response to the comment, Finnish UN Ambassador Kai Sauer hit back with some facts about Finnish health care, including Finland’s low cancer mortality rate, low infant mortality rate, and noted that UN researchers just declared Finland the happiest country in the world for the second time.

Finland contributes to Mozambique cyclone relief efforts

Finnish aid money is contributing to relief efforts in Mozambique, where Cyclone Idai cause widespread destruction in parts of the country last Thursday. There are 300 people confirmed dead so far. The Finnish Red Cross is also sending one worker to the area as part of international relief efforts. “In Mozambique, the authorities and relief organisations continue to investigate hurricane damage and immediate rescue work. The Embassy of Finland closely follows the developments of the situation” says Finnish Ambassador Laura Torvinen in Maputo. The EU has allocated €3.5 million to alleviate the humanitarian hardship caused by storm damage; while the United Nations Central Emergency Aid Fund has allocated $20 million. Finland contributes $8 million to this aid fund which will also help Mozambique.

Forecast: Economic growth is slowing down

A slowdown in growth in the euro zone – and globally – will impact growth in Finland as well over the next few years. That’s the new forecast from Pellervo Economic Research PTT released this morning. PTT says that growth will slow this year and next, due to weaker demand for exports and lower investment. The growth prediction for this year is 1.5% and 1.8% in 2020. However, the slowdown is expected to be temporary. PTT also says that a target of 75% employment rate in the labour market will require more structural reforms, especially for older people.

Thursday morning weather

It’s a bright and sunny start to the day across northern Lapland, with the temperature dropping down to -12C in the north west. There’s snow in parts of eastern and Central Finland as well, with temperatures just a few degrees below freezing. The sunshine continues through Jyvaskyla, Tampere, Turku, and the capital city region this morning, as well as Lappeenranta and the south east, with temperatures just above freezing at the start of Thursday.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Thursday morning 21st March 2019 / Credit: FMI