Parliament starts EU coronavirus recovery package debate
Politicians will begin debating the European Union’s €750 billion coronavirus recovery package today. The deal was negotiated by EU leaders in July and involves a mixture of grants and loans for Member States which have to be paid back over several decades. The money is being raised in part on the open markets and it means taking on collective debt – something that Finnish politicians from all sides of the political spectrum have been historically unwilling to do. However Finland stands to gain around €3.2 billion in extra funding from the recovery package and all the government parties will vote to approve it – even if there are a few individual MPs, likely from the Centre Party, who will be against it. The Finns Party and Christian Democrats are also staunchly against the package, and the pro-EU National Coalition Party will ultimately vote to approve it, although there will be some probable no-voters among their MPs.
THL: Finland’s overweight young people
New research from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL finds that more than 1-in-4 boys and almost 1-in-5 girls in the country are overweight – while 8% of boys and 4% of girls aged between 2-16 are clinically obese. The research finds there are several factors behind childhood obesity in Finland, both individual and societal. “Obesity has been affected above all by the fact that our living environment has become more conducive to being overweight: there are plenty of foods and drinks with too much sugar on offer and active mobility has decreased” says THL Development Manager Päivi Mäki. Researchers say a range of tools is needed to tackle the obesity epidemic include more promotion of healthy lifestyle choices for children.
Government meets on hybrid travel solution
Government ministers will meet later today to discuss the possible introduction of ‘hybrid’ measures on travel. It could be a way to allow more tourists into the country at a time when the highly-seasonal tourism industry, in Lapland in particular, is facing a huge financial and jobs crisis. One of the options the government is considering is a ‘test-to-travel’ plan where tourists who want to come to Finland would have to show a negative Covid-19 test before they get on a plane, bus or ferry. This wouldn’t apply to any Finnish citizens, or residents. Other options up for discussion include a plan from authorities in Lapland to introduce charter holiday corridors where groups of holidaymakers wouldn’t need to get tested before the arrive in the north, but they would have their trip managed so that in the event of a coronavirus outbreak the virus chain can easily be tracked. Learn more about some of these options at our original story here.
Municipal election voting intentions
More than three out of four people say they plan to vote in next spring’s municipal elections. That’s according to a new survey from the Association of Finnish Municipalities. However almost 1-in-5 people said they hadn’t made up their minds yet whether to vote or not, and 5% said they definitely wouldn’t vote. The main reason people want to vote is issues happening in their own municipality. “This is not a new phenomenon, but similar results have been obtained from previous studies” says research manager Marianne Pekola-Sjöblom. “Even if municipal policy is not perceived as interesting, people who live there still follow their local issues through various communications channels, especially the local media” she explains. The survey also revealed a low level of interest from young people in particular to running for elected municipal office – although 60% of respondents considered voting to be the most important way of influencing local affairs.
Wednesday morning weather
It’s a bright and mostly sunny start for the western half of the country – with more cloud cover on the eastern side. Temperatures range from +6°C in the northwest of Lapland to +10°C in Oulu, +11°C down the west coast, the southwest, and into central areas, +12°C along the eastern border and up to +15°C in Uusimaa this morning.