Morning headlines: Wednesday 20th February 2019

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Government to unveil sex crime plans today 

The government is set to reveal its proposals to combat sex crimes, especially where immigrants are concerned. The urgent review of legislation came after a series of accusations that asylum seekers had groomed and then abused a number of young girls in Oulu and Helsinki. The new proposals have been put together by the Ministerial Working Group on Internal Security and Justice, and will be announced this afternoon by Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen (NCP), Minister of Labour Jari Lindström (Blue) and MP Antti Kurvinen (Centre).

Transport Minister to quit politics at election

Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner (Centre) says she is leaving politics at the upcoming general election. Instead, the businesswoman – one of the wealthiest members of cabinet – will join the SEB banking group’s board of directors. Berner has been one of the most high profile government ministers during the last four years, and her decision not to seek a place in parliament at the election will see her return full time to the world of business.

EU Prime Ministers continue Helsinki visit

A number of EU Prime Ministers are continuing a visit to Helsinki today. Prime Ministers from Slovenia, Netherlands, Estonia, Denmark and Belgium are in the capital for a meeting of the EU Parliament ALDE group. ALDE is the ‘Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe’, and its two Finnish members are Prime Minister Juha Sipilä‘s Centre Party, as well as the Swedish People’s Party. Prime Minister Sipilä will continue bilateral meetings today. On Tuesday night he managed to persuade the Prime Ministers of Estonia, Belgium and Denmark to go ice swimming in the sea at his Kesäranta official residence.

Defence Minister attacks parliament advisers

Finland’s Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö (Blue) has launched an extraordinary attack on outside experts who are advising Members of Parliament on constitutional matters. Writing in blog post, Niinistö questioned the impartiality of Professors Juha Lavapuro and Martin Scheinin, who are giving their expert opinions about whether proposed legislation on intelligence and security reform is in line with the Finnish constitution. Niinistö called the professors “constitutional Taleban” (sic) and accused Scheinin of having a Marxist-Lenninist ideology due to his membership of a Communist group in the 1980s. Read more at our story here.

Christmas ham fuel record

A record number of Finnish households took part in a scheme to turn left over Christmas ham fat into biofuel. According to Neste, the company which organises the scheme, around 185,000 households took part last Christmas, and 13% of ham fat was recycled – an amount that could produce enough biofuel to drive around the planet almost 18 times. Read more about the innovative scheme at our story here.

Wednesday morning weather

There’s some strong winds during the day coming from the west coast, rising to storm force in places. Meanwhile, there’s some ‘warmer’ weather with temperatures above freezing in the capital region this morning and in the south east, and along the eastern border. But there’s also quite a lot of snow in the forecast, stretching in a band from Turku through Tampere and up to Jyväskylä in Central Finland. It’s chilly again along the Ostrobothnia coast with temperatures of -3C in Pori and -6C in Vaasa first thing this morning. In Laplan d, the best of the sun can be seen in Rovaniemi, but there’s also snow forecast in the region, with a low of -17C in the north west.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 20th February 2019 / Credit: FMI