Category Archives: Finland

China and Finland Promote Cultural and Tourism to Improve Trade and Tourism Industry

 By Xuefei Chen Axelsson

 Zhai Yuhu, Vice Director of Hebei Tourism Development Commission said Hebei province has great advantages and rich cultural and tourism resources. The Great Wall is in Hebei  which embraces both the beach and the mountains as well as skiing site in Zhangjiakou where the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held.
He said the purpose of this visit was to implement the strategic decision between the two countries’ governments.
“In 2017, the governments of Finland and China made the decision to promote cultural exchange with an emphasis on Winter Olympic, energy and tourism,” said Hebei Tourism Development Committee representative Zhai Yu Hu.

The Tourism Development Committee of Hebei Province in association with the Chinese embassy in Helsinki and Visit Finland organised the tourism promotion conference.

The conference was held marking the year 2018 as the EU-China tourism year aimed at promoting the less-known tourist destinations in a proactive way.

Similar to  Finland, Hebei Province also enjoys great sightseeing and snow sport activities in winter. The province is an internationally renowned ice and snow sports and tourism resort in China. It has more than 80 skiing resorts, of which the largest one covers about 156 kilometres. In the 2017-2018 snow season the area received as many as 2.741 million visitors.

In an interview with Greenpost, Zhai Yuhu said that Finland has  long been known as an experienced country in ice and snow activities and sports, Hebei Tourism Development Committee likes to learn from Finland. Besides, the province also aims at knowing more about winter sports equipment from Finnish companies to elevate itself to the international level in terms of manufacturing them.

Zhai Yu Hu said that Hebei  has similar geographical features as Finland, having great forests and a large number of lakes. Embracing the capital city of Beijing and other neighbouring municipalities and facing the Bohai Sea with a 487km coastal line, Hebei Province enjoys great advantages in attracting tourists.

The province  has a variety of top tourism attractions, from the famous Great Wall, world-recognised geological parks and national reserves to the thousand-year historical complex of imperial gardens, ancient palaces and graveyards and temples, it is really worthwhile to visit,  said Zhai Yu Hu.

Apart from a tourism promotion framework, Hebei also has a trade facilitation policy that allows 144-hour visa-free transit for visitors from 53 countries and tax rebate on shopping departures for overseas tourists. A new international airport near Hebei province will open to operation next year to facilitate travel.

Guo Xiaoguang, Cultural Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Helsinki also spoke at the conference. He said China and Finland are really not far away from each other because there is only one country between the two countries, that is Russia.

Guo said that tourism is the best means to increase mutual understanding between the two countries. Therefore, the Chinese embassy to Finland also acts as a bridge between the agencies and companies of Finland and China in accelerating tourism cooperation.

To date, the Finnish national flag carrier Finnair has launched five direct flights from Helsinki to five different cities in China, thereby considerably increasing the number of Finnish tourists to China in recent years, while also adding a large number of Chinese visitors to Finland. Guo again and again introduced Hebei’s famous tourist destinations and warmly welcome Finnish tourists to visit Hebei.

The official tourism promotion board, Visit Finland representative Teemu Ahola, said currently Finnish officials are in China discussing further cooperation between China and Finland in snow sports in 2019 based on Xi jinping’s last year’s visit result.  In December this year,   Finland will go to Zhangjiakou to organise an opening event of the Winter Olympics 2022, which might become a good opportunity for promoting cooperation in sports and tourism between the two countries.

In an interview with Greenpost, Teemu Ahola said China is the fifth largest tourism market for Finnish tourism industry. They really like to tap the great potential of it and will organize promotion activities in China too.

During the promotion conference, the two sides also signed further agreements in deeper cooperation in the future.

About 100 people attended the event.

Finland is trying to improve referral of radicalised persons to services

STOCKHOLM, Aug. 20(Greenpost)–Finland is trying to deal with radicalisation of youths and others and refer them to various services, according to senior specialist Milla Perukangas who leads the project.
Radicalisation is not a crime, but when it leads to violence, a radicalised person may be a threat to other people and society. The challenge is how to deal with radicalised persons who cannot be subjected to measures under the Criminal Code. The effective prevention of violent radicalisation requires not only that the police can take the necessary measures but also that the person can be referred to other relevant services, if necessary.

Climate change calls for new solutions in the Arctic

French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly to visit Finland–French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly will make an official visit to Finland on 23 August 2018. The visit will be hosted by Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö.

The ministers will discuss bilateral relations between the two countries, the security situation in the Baltic Sea region, materiel cooperation and current matters related to international cooperation. The agenda will also include the Finnish conscription system and crisis management cooperation, in particular the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

An inspection of the guard of honour and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hietaniemi cemetery are also included in minister Parly’s programme. The FDrench minister is also to visit the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (HybridCoE).

During her visit, minister Parly is also scheduled to meet the President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö.

Finland continues to help Sweden fight forest fires

Nordic ministers discussed infrastructure financing

STOCKHOLM, June 26(Greenpost) — Infrastructure financing is undergoing a fundamental change, where relying on public budgetary resources alone is not a sustainable option. It is important to find new financial instruments and practices to enable efficient infrastructure development on a long-term basis, according to a statement from Finland.

Such new instruments were explored in the seminar “Rethinking Infrastructure Financing in the Nordics”.

The participants included the Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner, Norwegian Minister of Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen, Icelandic Minister of Transport and Local Government and Nordic Cooperation Sigurdur Ingi Jóhannsson, and Director-General Ola Nordlander from the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation.

“A well-functioning and up-to-date infrastructure is a prerequisite for competitiveness. Any delays or failures in the projects may cause substantial economic and social costs. It is most natural for us to work together to find the best practices,” says Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland Anne Berner.

“Infrastructures in the Nordic countries have a lot in common. Being able to share our ideas and solutions is important to maximize the possibilities and utility from future projects. Getting the most out of the funds we invest in infrastructure is the key to building a transport system that fits future needs,” says Ketil Solvik-Olsen, Minister of Transport and Communications of Norway.

“It is very important not only to discuss the investment itself but also how to finance operation and maintenance. I am looking forward to learn about the views and experiences of the other Nordic Countries. Communications and transport are merging and the future is interesting,” says Sigurdur Ingi Jóhannsson, Minister of Transport and Local Government and Nordic Cooperation, Iceland.

What next?Discussion about the financial instruments continues among the Nordic countries. There are significant benefits to be gained in infrastructure financing especially from transboundary investments and coordinated transport policies.

Editor  Xuefei Chen Axelsson

Minister Antti Häkkänen: International community must work harder to stop financial flows to terrorism

By Xuefei Chen Axelsson
Stockholm, April 27(Greenpost)–In order to fight terrorism we need to intervene in its financing, and international cooperation is required to achieve this, Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen said when speaking at a high-level conference in Paris today.
The conference dealt with measures to be taken by the international community to combat the financing of terrorism.

Around 80 states from all over the world and several international organisations attended the conference, which was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Criminalisation of financing of terrorism, firmly anchored in human rights, is an important and necessary means to prevent terrorist offences. However, this alone is not enough. The 80 countries from all over the world and the international organisations represented in this conference can together change the world by blocking the flow of money to terrorism. One of the most important ways to fight terrorism is to find the sources and channels of funding and then close them down as effectively as possible,” Häkkänen said.

Terrorism cannot be stopped without intensifying the international cooperation. According to Häkkänen, more effective international exchange of information is required to be able to trace financial flows all the way to their final destination.

“For instance, information requests on suspected terrorist financing should be processed by all states much faster than at the moment. In addition, we need to keep up with the constantly changing operating environment. Various unofficial, often anonymous and digital money transfer services make detecting and preventing terrorist financing very challenging,” Häkkänen said.

“Furthermore, we need more efficient and more extensive legal cooperation in criminal matters. Competent authorities in all states should respond to international requests for legal assistance without delay and cooperate as widely as possible. It is crucial that all countries present here today are committed to stepping up our collective efforts to fight the financing of terrorism.”

“An enormous amount of work is being carried out within the European Union to create a safe living environment for ordinary citizens. I also consider it important that the EU continues to be an active global actor that strives to deepen the international cooperation to fight terrorism,” Häkkänen said.

PM SipiläFinland and India have good opportunities for cooperation

STOCKHOLM, April 18(Greenpost) — Prime minister Juha Sipilä and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting in Stockholm.

The development of economic relations between the Nordic countries and India was the main theme in the India-Nordic Summit in Stockholm on Tuesday 17 April. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä also held a bilateral meeting with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including negotiations on trade relations between Finland and India and on promoting investment and other cooperation.

“Finland’s exports to India have grown over the past few years. Prime Minister Modi and I noted that opportunities for cooperation between our two countries exist especially in sectors such as energy, satellites and education. We have agreed to deepen cooperation in these fields and will hold further negotiations on concrete projects at the level of public officials, Prime Minister Sipilä said.

“I first met Prime Minister Modi in 2016 in India in conjunction with the Team Finland trade mission to India. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and it is important for Finland to continue fostering good economic relations with India. There are many opportunities for cooperation,” observed Sipilä.

In the meeting, Prime Minister Sipilä also raised the importance of free trade; indeed, negotiations on free trade and investment protection agreements are on-going between the EU and India. Sipilä also stressed the importance of international cooperation in regard to climate change and counter-terrorism.

India interested in Nordic solutions

The initiative for the India-Nordic Summit of the prime ministers of the Nordic countries and India was made by India. The premiers of all five Nordic countries attended in the summit.

In the summit, Prime Minister Sipilä held an introductory presentation on the impact of innovations, digitalisation and artificial intelligence on trade and commerce, jobs and economic growth worldwide.

During Prime Minister Modi‘s premiership, India’s infrastructure, economy and society have been modernised. Economic growth in India is forecast to continue to at a rate of over 7% both this and next year. Last year, the value of goods exports from Finland to India amounted to EUR 532 million and the value of imports was EUR 340 million. Finland’s main export products are machinery and equipment as well as paper and cardboard. In 2017, our services exports totalled EUR 747 million and services imports amounted to EUR 534 million.

Sweden holds presidency of Nordic Council of Ministers this year

By Xuefei Chen Axelsson

Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini will attend the Nordic foreign ministers’ meeting in Stockholm from 17 to 18 April 2018, according to a statement from Finland’s government. 

The Nordic foreign ministers will discuss, among other things, topical UN affairs and international questions, such as North Korea and Syria, the development of transatlantic relations and Russia, Ukraine, and security in the North Atlantic. Topical EU issues will also be on the meeting agenda, including Brexit and the Western Balkans.

The Nordic foreign ministers meet approximately three times a year on the invitation of the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. This year, the Nordic Presidency is held by Sweden.

Authorities and researchers to seek solutions to Arctic navigation

By Xuefei Chen Axelsson

STOCKHOLM, April 13(Stockholm)–Satellite navigation is part of our everyday life. In addition to navigation, satellite positioning is required in electric and communications networks and transport services, for example. However, these systems and services do not function optimally in high latitudes, especially in the Arctic areas.

On 16-18 April 2018, authorities, researchers and business representatives of European and Arctic countries will convene in Muonio, Finland, to seek solutions to these problems in a workshop called Challenges in Arctic Navigation. The event is part of Finland’s Chairmanship Programme for the Arctic Council. It is arranged by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI) that operates under the National Land Survey of Finland. The Arctic countries have not previously met to work specifically on the feasibility of positioning systems in northern latitudes.

“I am pleased that the event will bring together, for the first time, all Arctic countries to address the challenges of positioning in northern areas,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner.

A concrete example of an Arctic problem in satellite navigation is related to landing of airplanes. It is possible with satellite navigation in Central Europe but not in the Arctic region. This is because the network of base stations needed to focus the satellite signals is not dense enough in the northern areas. Another reason for the poorer accuracy of a navigation system are satellite flight paths.

“As accurate and reliable positioning is needed in the north as in Central Europe. Currently the systems are unable to completely serve the Arctic areas. Now we are trying to find answers to this,” says Minister Berner.

Satellite positioning is tightly related to the development of intelligent transport systems and services. The challenge in the Nordic areas is the uneven coverage of positioning. It unnecessarily slows down the development of autonomous transport in particular.

“In the next generation Galileo satellites, the northern dimension will be better taken into account and they will provide more accurate information in high latitudes,” says Heidi Kuusniemi, Director at the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute.

Finland will chair the Arctic Council in 2017-2018. As the chair, Finland is paying particular attention to positioning and good communication connections, safety of maritime transport and development of meteorological cooperation. These are tightly connected to positioning and satellite technology.

The event in Muonio will be carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Geospatial Research Institute as part of the Arkki project financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The project’s international network includes, among others, the European Commission, the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). The cooperation partners include authorities, businesses and universities.

Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen’s speech in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences CASS in Beijing 2 February 2018

Ministry of Justice  3.2.2018 12.00

Ladies and gentlemen, dear professors,

It is a great pleasure to be here to discuss with you about a theme that I, as a lawyer, as a Minister of Justice and as a citizen, feel greatly attached to: the rule of law.

I studied law at the University of Helsinki. In 2012, the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture was established in Helsinki to promote mutual legal research between our countries. The Center has built strong connections with CASS Law Institute and several Universities as well as with many other major Chinese academic institutions.

Actually, CASS is the Finnish China Law Center’s key partner in China and has contributed significantly to deepening Sino-Finnish China legal research. A notable joint international research project has been conducted in the field of labour law. Other research collaborative projects between CASS and Finnish institutions have covered intellectual property rights, law and gender and climate change. These are important priorities also to our government. I am very happy to acknowledge that my former professors of faculty of law in Helsinki University have so actively engaged in Finnish-Chinese academic cooperation.

The rule of law is the core foundation of a modern society. It is the very backbone of Finland as well. Finland celebrated the 100th anniversary of its independence on 6 December 2017, and the festivities gave me an excellent opportunity to look back on the times when my country gained its independence: it was the respect for law and legality that paved our way to independence. Since the very beginning of the independent era, the rule of law has been enshrined in our constitution. Therefore, it is for a good reason that the rule of law was one of the key topics discussed during the year of Finland’s 100th anniversary. Several events were held where we discussed how the rule of law could be ensured in our country also in the future and how we could enhance the respect for it. Today, the rule of law still continues to be a highly topical matter in Finland.

As a matter of fact, this is true also at international level. Promoting the rule of law and ensuring equal access to justice for all is one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals that aim to transform our world.

What does the rule of law actually mean? Globally, the concept of rule of law does not have one mutually agreed meaning. Instead, states’ interpretation of the rule of law varies, which can be explained by historical, political, social and institutional differences between states. Your exact understanding of the concept probably differs from what I have come to understand. There is not a single, consistent understanding of the concept in Europe either. That does not, however, prevent us from discussing the importance of the rule of law.

Even though the exact understanding of the concept varies across the world, there is a widely accepted common agreement on the most central elements of the rule of law. Those elements are endorsed by the international organisations such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union.

As you very well know, the rule of law is a multifaceted and complex concept, but I still would like to discuss some of its core elements next.

First of all, the rule of law is about legality. This means that a state and its institutions are bound by the law – any government is not allowed to act outside the law when pursuing its goals. The rule of law is not the same as rule by law. The state and its institutions must act in accordance with the law. Legality also means that the procedure for enacting laws must be transparent and accountable.

Secondly, the rule of law requires legal certainty. In order for this requirement to be met, it is vital that citizens and businesses have easy access to laws. All laws should  be published and written in a way that enables citizens to understand the contents of the law.

The third element of the rule of law I would like to mention is the independence of judiciary and citizens’ effective access to justice. An independent judiciary is a key element of the rule of law and plays a key role in upholding the rule of law.

Let me also say a few words about the role and functions of lawyers and attorneys. I would like to emphasise that access to justice is a universal and fundamental right that is protected by international instruments and constitutional provisions. The freedom of lawyers and attorneys at their work, as well as their independence, is one of the fundamental human rights.

Respect for the rule of law should not be taken as granted. It requires monitoring and there is always room for improvement. Society is changing constantly and these changes may bring about new challenges for the rule of law as well. Strong pillars of the rule of law help deal with new, unpredictable challenges or even a crisis. However, this also means that we might have to think about new ways to ensure that the rule of law is always and in all circumstances fully respected. Let me share a few examples with you from Finland and from the European Union.

Last autumn, I launched a reform of the administration of justice in Finland. I believe that the separation of state powers requires strong independence of the judiciary, and therefore, in my opinion, the Finnish system calls for reinforcement in this regard. Today, the Ministry of Justice is responsible for certain operative tasks of court administration. The aim of the reform is to improve the independence of the judiciary by setting up a new independent national council for the judiciary. The tasks related to the administration of courts will be transferred from the Ministry of Justice to the new independent agency. In addition, we are currently reforming the procedural law in general courts. The aim of the reform is to make legal proceedings more effective without compromising the legal safeguards. This may be achieved, for example, by making wider use of videoconferencing possible in legal proceedings.

I am convinced that this reform will enhance the rule of law in Finland.

The other example deals with access to justice. In Finland, when it comes to public legal aid, the desired state of affairs is that every person receives the aid necessary to solve his or her legal problem at the earliest possible stage, regardless of the person’s economic situation. The objective is that all citizens have easy access to legal advice services through various channels. These channels include different forms of online counselling, electronic services, distance services, a telephone service and personal consultations.  These channels include different forms of online counselling, electronic services, remote services, a telephone service and personal consultations. The more advanced online booking system and the chat service through which lawyers and other staff of public legal aid offices can provide general legal advice and guidance for citizens can be mentioned as concrete examples of the extended multi-channel service provision.

The European Union is founded on the rule of law. The Treaties which establish the Union confirm this, and the respect for the rule of law is a prerequisite for EU membership. Cooperation within the Union would not be possible if this requirement was not met. The European Union consists of independent and sovereign countries, but cooperation within the Union goes much further than in any other international organisation. The EU is based on the idea of free movement of persons, goods, services and capital. There is a huge amount of interaction between the EU Member States, state authorities, individuals and companies, covering a wide range of policy fields. The respect for the rule of law makes all this possible.

Judicial cooperation is one of the central policy fields in the EU. A number of legal issues follow from the fact that persons, goods, services and capital move freely between the EU states without any internal frontiers. Hence, there is a need for effective judicial cooperation. In the EU, judicial cooperation between the courts and other judicial authorities is based on direct contacts. A judgment given in one EU state is directly recognisable and enforceable in another EU state. This means that a judgment given by a Finnish court in civil and commercial matters or, in many cases, also in family matters will be recognised and enforced either directly without any intermediary procedures or otherwise in a quick manner in all other EU Member States. The EU cooperation in family matters covers issues such as divorce, child custody, international child abduction, maintenance, successions and wills. In addition, judicial cooperation in criminal matters between the EU states is based on direct contacts between the authorities. This enables effective procedures.

For mutual trust to exist, the rule of law needs to be fully respected in all Member States of the Union. A judge who is asked to enforce a judgement given in another Member State needs to be able to trust that the judgement was given by an impartial and independent court where fundamental rights of the parties were respected. Similarly, it is vital for the parties to be able to trust that a judgement for which they are seeking enforcement in another EU state will be executed in accordance with law.

Any threat to the respect for the rule of law within the European Union could hinder such cooperation. Therefore, the EU has developed new means to ensure the respect for the rule of law in the EU. The heads of state and governments have in recent years paid more attention to the rule of law in the EU. Thus, the rule of law is being discussed at the highest political level of the EU.

Member States can now together identify new challenges that are posed to the European states and exchange best practices to promote and ensure the rule of law. New challenges may originate from a variety of sources. In recent years, Europe has faced challenges not only with the enormous migratory flows to Europe but also with hate speech and fake news, which form the reverse side of the positive technological developments and digitalisation. New technologies improve our lives in many ways and the social media provides new opportunities for communication with people around the world, but they can also bring about negative side effects. Fake news and hate speech are easy to spread in social media. These issues have brought about new concerns, also as regards the rule of law. These concerns need to be addressed, and this must be done in cooperation with other states. The annual rule of law dialogue at ministerial level helps to ensure and enhance the rule of law in the EU.

Lastly, I would like to highlight an aspect of the rule of law’s influence which is not always recognised: its implications for the economic growth. For business, legal certainty and effectiveness of the judiciary are vital. Various international studies show that there is interrelation between justice and competitiveness. Well-functioning, stable and predictable justice systems play an important role in determining economic performance and in boosting investments. Protection of property rights and enforcement of contracts encourage savings and investments but, at the same time, they also promote the establishment of economic relationships and have positive impacts on the development of economic growth and innovation. Businesses need to know that their rights are enforced and their cases dealt with by impartial courts. Effective justice systems create confidence and business-friendly environments. The impact of the rule of law on the economic growth further underlines its great importance.

I have understood that the new Supervision law in China, which is announced in 2017, could go into effect as early as March 2018.  If it is enacted, the law will create one organization, a hierarchy of “Supervision Commissions,” to investigate and punish extra-legally, would have an authority to pass an extrajudicial investigation and punishment without formal court proceedings, not only Party members, but also many millions of non-Party-members who work as state employees across a wide range of professions and positions. Maybe you are able to elaborate this. Do you think that the adoption of the new law would mark a significant departure from the separation between the Party and the justice system?

As a matter of fact, according to the agreement between the Ministries of Justice of China and Finland, the aim of our cooperation is to strengthen the rule of law, and more specifically, to enhance access to justice, promote crime prevention and develop our judicial systems. The cooperation started as early as in 1995. Open dialogue, expert seminars and exchange of information on the crucial and central questions of the respective legal systems have been at the core of the Cooperation Programme at all times. As a result of this cooperation, a number of recommendations and proposals for development have been produced. We have agreed that the cooperation between our countries during the period from 2017 to 2020 will focus on legal aid and advice and on the development of community sanctions.

The relations between Finland and China are excellent are are being elevated to new level with the established “Future oriented new type of cooperative partnership” which was agreed during President Xi’s visit to Finland in April.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear professors,

I hope that I have managed to demonstrate to you how important I think the rule of law is for a modern society, for international relations, for cooperation between the states, for businesses, and for each and every citizen.

Thank you for your attention!

Mikko Kinnunen appointed Finland’s first Ambassador for Hybrid Affairs

Ministry for Foreign Affairs  30.3.2018 6.00

On 1 April, Counsellor for Foreign Affairs Mikko Kinnunen will become the Foreign Ministry’s first Ambassador for Hybrid Affairs.

Mikko Kinnunen transfers to the new position from the Foreign Ministry’s Unit for Security Policy and Crisis Management, where he has served as Director of Unit.

“From the perspective of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, hybrid issues can be related to foreign and security policy, legal and commercial matters, strategic communications, also international cyber security cooperation, for example. In other words, in practice they can be linked with any or all of the activities that the Ministry and its missions abroad are engaged in,” Kinnunen says.

The Ambassador for Hybrid Affairs will build up the Foreign Ministry’s expertise in hybrid issues and help raise Finland’s profile on these issues with the international arena. The Ambassador will work in close cooperation with different authorities in Finland and support their involvement in international cooperation. The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which was established in Helsinki last year, is naturally a key partner for the new Ambassador.

Hybrid warfare and the use of influence-seeking hybrid methods have attracted wide attention both in Finland and internationally. Finland, too, is a target of hybrid attacks and activities, and it has strengthened its capacity to detect and respond to hybrid threats.

“Hybrid methods are a new way of seeking to influence our security, and we must respond to these effectively,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini.

Dealing with hybrid issues is part of the work of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the network of Finnish missions abroad. This can involve detecting the use of hybrid attacks and activities targeting Finland, tackling these and taking part in international cooperation on hybrid issues.

Mikko Kinnunen has extensive experience of security policy and matters related to Russia and the former Soviet area. He has served as Finland’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and worked in the Embassies of Finland in Moscow and Washington and the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN in New York.

Government proposal for the new Radiation Act submitted to Parliament

Government proposal for the new Radiation Act submitted to Parliament

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health  28.3.2018 14.11

Government proposal for the new Radiation Act submitted to Parliament

The Government has submitted the proposal for the new Radiation Act to Parliament. The new Act would replace the current Radiation Act and would enter into force on 1 July 2018. The Act would implement the EU’s new Basic Safety Standards Directive concerning radiation safety. It would protect people’s health from the damage caused by radiation and prevent and reduce environmental damage and other detrimental effects caused by radiation.

The proposal would also amend the Health Protection Act, the Criminal Code of Finland, the Nuclear Energy Act, the Act on Healthcare Appliances and Supplies, the Act on the Market Surveillance of Certain Products and the Act on the Recognition of Physicians Monitoring the Health of Radiation Workers in Category A.

The Radiation Act as a whole will be reformed

The new Act would apply to the following exposure situations: radiation practices, existing exposure situations and emergency exposure situations. The EU’s Basic Safety Standards Directive lays down provisions on the responsibilities of the parties responsible for the use of radiation, on the safe use of radiation and on radiation safety in emergency exposure situations and existing exposure situations. The Act would clarify regulatory control and emphasise the risk-based principle in regulatory control.

The implementation of the Basic Safety Standards Directive requires Finland to make many structural and terminological changes to its radiation legislation. It was therefore appropriate to reform the radiation legislation as a whole in connection with the implementation of the Directive.

Exposure to radiation should be kept as low as possible

The new Act would emphasise that the overall benefit of radiation practices and protection measures would have to outweigh the detriment caused by them. Work-related exposure and the exposure of the general public should be kept at the lowest level practically possible in radiation practices and protection measures. In addition, exposure to radiation for medical purposes should be limited to the level that is necessary to achieve the results of the examination or treatment or to carry out the procedure in question.

The proposal would specify the provisions on targeting radiation not only at patients, but also at asymptomatic persons.

The Act would specify the regulation of exposure to natural radiation, such as exposure to radon in indoor air and exposure of workers to natural radiation, for example, in mines.

Responsible parties’ responsibility will be emphasised

The proposal for the Radiation Act emphasises the responsible parties’ responsibility and risk-based control. The proposed Act would impose on responsible parties a new obligation of conducting a safety assessment based on the risks involved in their activities. The safety assessment would involve assessing radiation exposures in the activities and identifying potential radiation safety incidents. Measures would also be presented to ensure radiation safety, prevent the identified potential radiation safety incidents and prepare for the occurrence of such incidents.

In all activities requiring a safety licence, responsible parties would have to consult a radiation safety expert when planning, implementing and monitoring safety protection measures concerning workers and members of the public, in accordance with the nature and extent of their activities. Responsible parties would also have to appoint a radiation safety officer to assist them. The officer would monitor in practice that staff at the place of work ensure radiation safety and follow regulations and guidelines.

The radiation safety expert and radiation safety officer would have to possess the qualifications and radiation protection expertise required by the Radiation Act. Training in radiation protection may be included in a higher education degree or completed as separate continuing education and training.

Statutes concerning exposure for non-medical purposes to be included in the Act

The new Act would include provisions on human exposure to radiation for non-medical imaging purposes, in which the main purpose of imaging is not to promote the person’s health. These include X-ray examinations to determine the age of immigrants, for example.

More efficient control of radon exposure

In the proposed Act, exposure to natural radiation, such as radon, would mainly be regulated in the same manner as exposure to radiation from other sources. This would enable improved control of radon exposure.

According to the new EU Basic Safety Standards Directive, the reference level for radon concentration is 300 Bq/m3 in dwellings, workplaces and other places with public access. If the radon concentration in the working area cannot be decreased below the reference level despite efforts, the responsible party would have to obtain a safety licence from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) for its operations. The protection of workers from radiation should then be ensured in the same way as in all other radiation practices: for example, the radiation dose sustained by the worker should be determined on a regular basis and the results should be submitted to the Dose Register of radiation workers.

The Radiation Act and other statutes issued under it would provide more clearly how responsible parties have to notify the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of practices that may cause exposure to radon. Further provisions would also be issued on the obligations to report and limit radon concentrations.

Regulations on non-ionising radiation to be reformed

The Act would also reform the provisions concerning non-ionising radiation, although the Basic Safety Standards Directive does not concern non-ionising radiation. The reason for this is the rapid technical development of the equipment using non-ionising radiation and the large variety of its different applications. The reform would ensure the safety of non-ionising radiation applications and create a framework for efficient risk-based control.

As required by the Constitution, some provisions contained in decrees and the current instructions of the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority would be moved to the Act, as applicable. The Act would specify the current authorisations to issue decrees and would authorise the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority to issue regulations on certain detailed and technical matters.

Data utilisation and intelligent automation to boost the digitalisation of logistics

Ministry of Transport and Communications  28.3.2018 13.37 | Published in English on 29.3.2018 at 16.20

The Government has issued a resolution on the digitalisation of freight transport data. The aim of the resolution is to boost the digitalisation of the logistics sector and promote new business opportunities. It also paves the way for Finland as a hub for international transport and supports emission reduction targets in the transport sector. The resolution is part of the Government key project on building a growth environment for digital businesses.

“Digitalisation, urbanisation and growth of online business increase the importance of short-distance logistics. We must develop new consumer-oriented services and business models. The operating models of the sharing economy will also be adopted in freight transport,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner.

“Finland is a global leader in promoting the “mobility as a service” thinking. It is important that this expertise will be utilised in freight logistics, too,” Minister Berner states.

She says that a lot of air is being transported nationally and internationally, in other words the transportation capacity is not being used to its full potential.

“This is expensive and inefficient for all the parties involved. More efficient use of the transportation capacity is also important for achieving the climate and emission targets,” she says.

Better utilisation of data is an essential question in digitalisation. The movement of goods must be directed by data.

The resolution includes four goals: Flow of information in and between the logistics chains must be substantially improved and the efficiency of short-distance logistics increased, efforts must be focused on developing intelligent automation in logistics and the digitalisation of ports must be boosted. National and EU regulation on information security and confidentiality of commercial, industrial and personal data must be carefully observed in everything that is done.

The set of measures in the resolution includes regulation, networked cooperation, promotion of tests and pilot projects, increase in the competence levels, and advocacy work in the European Union and on international forums.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications launched an open logistics digitalisation network in the autumn. The resolution was drafted together with the network and will be implemented in close cooperation with the sector.

Report: Banning coal in 2030 would affect only a few energy companies, while a ban in 2025 would cause significant costs for many

Report: Banning coal in 2030 would affect only a few energy companies, while a ban in 2025 would cause significant costs for many

Phasing out coal in energy production by 2030 would have only minor effects on energy companies, according to a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. However, this would require that the Greater Helsinki area have access to reasonably priced biomass for replacing coal in energy production.

Enforcing a ban on coal in 2025, on the other hand, would have serious economic impacts especially in Helsinki, Vaasa, Espoo and Vantaa, and coal would be replaced by biomass and to a significant degree by natural gas.

Pöyry Management Consulting submitted its report on the effects of phasing coal in energy production to Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing Kimmo Tiilikainen on 27 March 2018. The Minister discusses the report results and the future of the coal phase-out project in press conference.

The Pöyry report focuses on the effects of phasing out coal in district heating networks and industry where coal has been a significant source of energy in recent years. Eight cities have large coal-fired units, accounting for 90 per cent of the coal used in energy production in Finland. Helsinki, Naantali, Espoo, Vantaa, Vaasa and Lahti topped the list in 2016.

Phasing out coal by 2030 would have cost implications chiefly in Vaasa and Helsinki, where measures to replace coal would have to start earlier than currently planned. The estimate is that the other coal-fired power plants could be replaced before 2030.

Banning coal in 2025 would have significant effects on district heat generation especially in Vaasa and Helsinki. It would have cost implications even in Espoo, Vantaa and Turku, but to a considerably lesser degree. The overall impact of phasing out coal by 2025 could grow to EUR 200 million in 2024–2033, based on the assumptions used in the study.

The report estimates that the price competitiveness of coal will decrease in the future. However, banning coal would cause power plants additional costs due to earlier replacement investments, potentially higher production costs, premature decommissioning of existing equipment and additional investments in existing power plans.

There will be a considerable market-driven drop in the capacity of coal-fired heat generation by 2030, while most replacement investments will take place in the mid-2020s. This will reduce the economic effects of the coal phase-out. It is estimated that the use of coal for energy will drop from 22 TWh in 2016 to around 5–7 TWh by 2025 and to 3.5 TWh by 2030, while the coal-fired district heat capacity will decrease from 2,055 MW to 1,100 MW by 2025 and to 480 MW by 2030.

Finland aims to phase out coal in energy production in the 2020s, according to the current Government Programme. The National Energy and Climate Strategy puts forth that a Government proposal on a transitional period for phasing out coal power by 2030 will be prepared during this government term. Minister Tiilikainen requested Pöyry Management Consulting to even consider a scenario where coal power is phased out by 2025.