Morning headlines: Wednesday 16th September 2020

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

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Government agrees €10.7 billion budget deficit for 2021

A formal announcement is expected today that government parties have reached agreement on the 2021 budget. Politicians are putting final touches to the deal on Wednesday morning and have already arrived at House of the Estates in Helsinki to start what is expected to be their final session in this stage of the budget process. At the end of Tuesday’s talks, party leaders confirmed that Finland’s budget deficit would rise to €10.7 billion next year. “Solutions have been found in big cases. We have had big issues to deal with, including the financial situation of municipalities, the funding of organisations, issues related to energy taxation, to name a few, and, of course unemployment measures” Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) told reporters when talks wrapped on on Tuesday night. Left Alliance leader Li Andersson says that the “hard work” of negotiations has already paid off with a new direction “both in terms of the rights of unemployed and in terms of climate.” We will follow the government’s budget press conference later on Wednesday.

Weather warning as exceptionally strong autumn storm arrives

There’s weather warnings in place today as a low pressure front moves through Åland and the west coast with severe winds forecast for the Gulf of Bothnia this afternoon. Meteorologists say the storm is similar to winter storm Aapeli of early 2019 which caused mass power outages and damage to trees. “The storm is exceptionally strong compared to the season. Typically, such severe low-pressure storms occur later in the fall and winter” says meteorologist Ville Siiskonen from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. “On land, the trees still have leaves and the ground is frost-free, which makes this storm potentially more serious than other winter storms” he adds. The storm is also associated with heavy rainfall, which is concentrated in the central part of the country and in the southern parts of Northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu. More than 40mm of rain is expected in some areas from Wednesday to Thursday morning.

Fewer bankruptcies compared with 2019 figures

The latest figures from Statistics Finland show a drop in the number of bankruptcies in the first eight months of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. Between January and August there were 1,591 bankruptcies which is 149 less than last year. However the companies which filed for bankruptcy had a total of 8,598 employees which is up almost 400 from the previous year. The coronavirus epidemic has already had a sharp impact on Finland’s economy and unemployment this year, with the government being urged to do more to create jobs and start to raise the employment level back towards their 75% target which is not currently being met.

Poll: Support for government stalls, or falls

A new poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat finds the Social Democrats, Finns Party and National Coalition Party remain Finland’s top three choices if voters went to the polls today. But there’s further confirmation that the popularity of Prime Minister Sanna Marin‘s Social Democrats has stilled at 21% – no change from the last HS survey. The Finns Party has gained half a percentage point at 19.5% and the National Coalition Party is up slightly to 17%. Overall the five parties in the government coalition enjoy 55.5% support from voters, down from 56.3% just a month ago. The telephone survey was carried out by Kantar TNS between 17th August and 12th September, and 2,486 people participated in the interviews. There is a margin of error of 2.1% in either direction for the biggest political parties.

News Now Finland joins Council for Mass Media JSN

News Now Finland has become the first English-language news outlet to join the Finnish Council for Mass Media JSN. The application was approved on Tuesday, and although News Now Finland has been following JSN’s guidelines and practices for ethical journalism since its launch three years ago in September 2017, the membership now formalises that position. “At a time when transparency and accountability in the media is important for us as reporters and for our audiences, we’re very happy to be able to add this extra layer of quality control to our work as we continue to publish award-winning independent journalism about Finland in English” says News Now Finland Managing Editor David Mac Dougall. The Council for Mass Media i s a self-regulating committee established by publishers and journalists for the purpose of interpreting good professional practice and defending the freedom of speech and publication. The Council also addresses the methods by which journalists acquire their information, but does not exercise legal jurisdiction or public authority. JSN’s membership is exceptionally broad, regulating almost all Finnish media including news, women’s magazines, radio stations, children’s magazines and most political parties’ newspapers.

Wednesday morning weather

The severe autumn storm will intensify from later this afternoon over a 24 hour period but for Wednesday morning it’s already a mixed weather picture across the country. There’s rain and fog across north and south Lapland – but some chance of sunshine in central areas of Lapland. There’s plenty of rain in the forecast across Central Finland and down the west coast, but cloudy at first for Turku and the southwest, and in much of Uusimaa. Temperatures range from +5°C in northwest Lapland to +15°C in Hanko today – but most areas north of about Jyväskylä will start Wednesday morning with single digit temperatures.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 16th September 2020 / Credit: FMI