EU Commissioners, ministers in Helsinki for meetings
Two groups of EU visitors are set to cause traffic chaos in the Finnish capital over the next two days. The outgoing President of the European Commission and national Commisisoners are in Helsinki at the start of Finland’s EU Presidency for two days. During that time they’ll meet members of the government, have an official dinner hosted by PM Antti Rinne (SDP) at Kesäranta on Thursday evening, and lunch with President Sauli Niinistö at the Presidential Palace on Friday. Meanwhile Ministers Katri Kulmuni (Centre) and Timo Harakka (SDP) are hosting their EU counterparts for the first set-piece EU Presidency meeting to discuss sustainable economic growth, competitiveness and development. Helsinki Police have warned about traffic disruption and road closures in the capital area during the next 36 hours.
Royal visit burnishes Finland’s business & culture links with Japan
A four-day visit to Finland by Japan’s Crown Prince and Princess – his first since inheriting the role – has a firm focus on celebrating 100 years of diplomatic relations “exploring Finnish culture, landmarks, nature and healthcare” according to the President’s office. However it’s also an opportunity to highlight the trade opportunities between the two countries. The balance of trade is firmly in Finland’s favour at the moment, and Antti Kunnas from the Finnish Chamber of Commerce in Japan says a new EU-Japan trade deal makes the Land of the Rising Sun a potential “gold mine” for Finnish companies looking to open up new trade markets. Read more in our original story here.
Hautala beats Huhtasaari in EU Parliament election
Green MEP Heidi Hautala has been elected as a Vice President of the European Parliament. She was elected in the first round of voting with 336 votes for one of the 14 Vice President positions in Brussels and Strasbourg. Previous Finnish Vice Presidents include Olli Rehn (Centre) and Anneli Jääteenmäki (Centre). However another Finnish MEP wasn’t so successful. Finns Party politician Laura Huhtasaari has only been an MEP officially for a few days but wanted to get elected as a Vice President of the European Parliament. She got the lowest number of votes in the first round – just 135.
Savonlinna Opera Festival begins today
It’s one of the cultural highlights of summer in Finland, the Savonlinna Opera Festival begins today. Set against the stunning backdrop of the eastern city’s stone castle, the month-long festival is bringing a new production of The Barber of Seville to Finnish audiences. And, for the first time the famed La Scala opera company will be performing in Finland. The budget for the annual festival is €8.5 million, of which €2 million is earmarked for the La Scala visit.
Thursday morning weather
There’s a north-south split in the weather forecast for Thursday morning: everywhere south of Oulu can expect bright sunshine and warmer temperatures; while everywhere north of Oulu should brace for rain and cloudy skies. Temperatures range from a cool +8C in north east Lapland to +14C to +16C across much of the country south of Oulu.