Category Archives: Finlandnews

In future, only charges provided by law could be collected from clients of health and social services

By Xuefei Chen Axelsson

STOCKHOLM, Dec. 14(Greenpost)–The Government is proposing a new Act on Client Charges in Health and Social Services that would apply to health and social services organised by counties. In future, only service charges provided by the Act on Client Charges in Health and Social Services could be collected from clients.

The aim is that the service charges would be reasonable and not prevent people from using the health and social services they need.

The client’s own county would charge the client. Counties could also charge less than the maximum fee, or let their residents use services free of charge. The client would always pay the same sum for the same service organised by the county, irrespective of who provided the service. The county would use the same client charges for services provided by the county itself and for services bought from other service providers against the client’s health and social services voucher or personal budget. The service provider would be allowed to charge for unattended appointments that had not been cancelled.

As before, there would fixed client charges and client charges based on the client’s ability to pay (income-related charges). When determining income-related charges, only the clients’ continuous, regular income would be taken into account, not their property. Regulations concerning forest income would remain unchanged.

Scope of application of payment ceiling becomes broader

The aim is not to change the level of the current annual payment ceiling (EUR 683). In future, the following costs would be included when calculating whether the client’s total costs reach the payment ceiling: appointment and processing charges for oral health services, charges for temporary home nursing and hospital at home, charges for prehospital emergency medical services, and charges paid from the person’s income support.

Providers would be allowed to charge the same sums for distance services as for services received during traditional appointments. Charges for distance services would be included in the client’s costs for the payment ceiling. Payment practices in primary services and specialised services would be harmonised. In future, each appointment to a doctor, nurse or therapist would be charged separately, as well as each appointment for serial treatment.

The obligation to monitor when the client reaches the payment ceiling would be transferred from the client to the county.

The provision obliging to reduce or waive a charge would be made more effective and the provision would be extended to cover even the charges for short-term institutional healthcare. Clients should be informed about the possibility to apply for payment reduction. Payment reduction would be preferred rather than granting income support.

Free-of-charge health services to minors and for preventive purposes

In future, health services to minors would always be free of charge. The change would also apply to institutional healthcare and specialised medical care.

As before, preventive services would mainly be free of charge. Appointments to outpatient care services relating to mental health and substance abuse problems would be free of charge.

Charging criteria for home care, service housing and institutional care will be harmonised

The Act on Client Charges in Health and Social Services would lay down charges for long-term service housing. In the same connection, the principles for income-related charges for long-term or continuous and regular services would be harmonised.

Continuous and regular home care would be comparable to ordinary long-term service housing because both arrangements bring services to the clients’ homes and the clients do not need services 24 hours a day. The income limits for home care charges would be raised.

Long-term service housing with 24-h assistance would be considered equal to long-term institutional care as both service arrangements provide clients with intensive 24-hour care. The Act would require that a client shall have at least EUR 160 at his or her personal disposal in service housing with 24-h assistance. In institutional care, the sum is EUR 108.

The Act is scheduled to enter into force on 1 January 2021.

People found guilty of serious offences could in future lose their Finnish citizenship

In future, people found guilty of certain serious offences could lose their Finnish citizenship. Such offences would include treason, high treason and offences against the vital interests of Finland committed with terrorist intent. The Government submitted a proposal to amend the Nationality Act to Parliament on 5 December.

An individual could lose their citizenship only if they are also a citizen of another country and have sufficient de facto ties to their other country of citizenship. Finnish citizens by birth could also lose their citizenship.

“Individuals convicted of treason and terrorist crimes have lost their loyalty to Finland and the Finnish people. In such cases, even the loss of citizenship would, under certain conditions, be justified,” says Minister of the Interior Kai Mykkänen.

According to the proposal, an individual could lose their Finnish citizenship if found guilty of an offence against the vital interests of the state for which the most severe punishment provided is at least eight years of imprisonment. Such offences include compromising Finland’s right to self-determination, incitement to war, treason and espionage. The loss of citizenship would also require the individual to have been sentenced to at least five years of unconditional imprisonment.

A person could also lose their citizenship if they are convicted of an offence with terrorist intent, such as a breach of the prohibition on chemical weapons, aggravated trafficking in human beings, hostage taking, a nuclear explosive offence, kidnapping or killing. A further condition is that the crime in question was committed against the vital interests of Finland.

The Finnish Immigration Service would decide on the annulment of citizenship based on the criminal conviction

The decision on the annulment of citizenship would be made by the Finnish Immigration Service. The decision could be made based on a legally valid criminal conviction issued in Finland. The individual could appeal against the decision of the Finnish Immigration Service to an administrative court.

The proposed amendment is part of the Government’s action plan on asylum policy, according to which measures will be taken to criminalise participation in the activities of any organisation classified by the UN and the EU as a terrorist organisation, travelling abroad with intent to commit a terrorist offence and the funding of such travel. After this, measures will be taken to lay down provisions on the possibility of annulling the Finnish citizenship of people with dual citizenship who have participated in terrorist activities.


Government proposes new powers for police to intervene in use of drones in certain cases

By Xuefei Chen Axelsson

STOCKHOLM, Nov. 8(Greenpost)–The police need greater powers to intervene in the use of unmanned aircraft, or drones. At the moment, the police have a limited capability to respond to security threats caused by drones. On 8 November, the Government submitted to Parliament a proposal for amending the Police Act, according to a statement from the government reaching here.

“Unmanned aircraft systems have become very popular, and this has created new kinds of security threats for which we aim to prepare with this proposal. Drones can be used for preparing or committing offences, such as covert filming or photography or industrial espionage. In addition, inexperienced or reckless drone users may pose a risk to their environment,” says Minister of the Interior Kai Mykkänen.

In future, the police could intervene in the use of drones when this is necessary to maintain public order and security, for example. Greater powers are also necessary for preventing offences and safeguarding significant state events.

The aim of the proposal is improve safety and security in society. The police could, if necessary, intervene in the use of drones by using force or such technical equipment that helps to disturb the connection between the drone and its remote control system or to take over control of the drone remotely. The police could forbid the use of drones, for example at the scene of an accident to prevent drones equipped with cameras being used to take photos or videos of victims of the accident and/or to prevent the disturbance of the work of the authorities.

Prime Minister Sipilä says to engage China and US while meeting EU president Jean-Claude Juncker

 By Xuefei Chen Axelsson

STOCKHOLM, Nov. 8 (Greenpost)–Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker met today, on 8 November, in Helsinki, according to a statement from government office reaching here.

In their meeting, Sipilä and Juncker had a wide-ranging discussion on the development of the EU and the challenges it will face in the future. The leaders also discussed Finland’s upcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union, as well as the country’s priorities for the Commission’s new five-year work programme.

Sipilä and Juncker’s discussions focused on topics including the EU’s measures to respond to migration, questions concerning international trade and the development of the EU’s internal markets.

“When it comes to migration, we must focus above all dealing with the root causes and engaging in cooperation with the countries of origin. We also need more effective control of the EU’s external borders, including reform of the Common European Asylum System. During its Presidency term, Finland is committed to continue seeking a way forward in migration issues in a pragmatic and result-oriented manner,” commented Prime Minister Sipilä.

Sipilä and Juncker agreed that strengthening the rules-based international system of trade must continue to be a top priority of the EU’s trading policy.

“The EU has to maintain its leading role in modernising the World Trade Organization (WTO).  At the same time, we must work to engage the United States and China in this process,” Prime Minister Sipilä said.

Prime Minister Sipilä and European Commission President Juncker also discussed the development of the EU’s defence cooperation and preparedness for hybrid threats, the status of the Brexit negotiations, cooperation between the EU and Africa, climate issues and the EU’s new multiannual financial framework.

In addition to European Commission President Juncker, Sipilä met today, on 8 November, with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Today’s discussions were part of a series of meetings leading up to Finland’s term as President of the Council of the European Union. Prime Minister Sipilä will meet with the heads of all EU Member States before the start of Finland’s Presidency term.


Arctic Council meeting of environment ministers ends with talks about future cooperation

By Xuefei Chen Axelsson
STOCKHOLM, Oct. 13(Greenpost)– The Arctic Environment Ministers’ meeting held in Rovaniemi 11-12 October ended with discussions about cooperation in addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity and preventing pollution in the Arctic region.
The two-day meeting brought together ministers and high-level representatives from the eight Arctic Council States and from six Permanent Participants representing the indigenous peoples of the Arctic. The Observer countries and organisations of the Arctic Council had also been invited.

Many participants noted with grave concern the rapid ongoing changes in the Arctic confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Global Warming. The IPCC acknowledges that the Arctic is warming two to three times faster than the global average. Many countries presented their national actions, including plans to speed up the reductions of the greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions as well as reducing emissions through innovation. Observer states were invited to strengthen their actions to reduce black carbon emissions. The need to increase cooperation on adaptation in order to strengthen the resilience in changing climate was discussed.

Participants welcomed the Agreement to prevent unregulated commercial fishing on the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean signed on 3 October in Greenland. In order to strengthen ecosystem resilience in changing conditions, measures and mainstreaming are needed to promote ecosystem-based approaches to management, and conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; cooperation to develop a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in collaboration with indigenous peoples and reduce marine plastic litter was highlighted by many. It was noted that international cooperation is needed to address long-range pollution that ends up in the Arctic region, including new emerging contaminants. The need to strengthen and sustain Arctic monitoring and observations, and use the best available scientific and Indigenous knowledge was discussed.

“On behalf of Finland’s Chairmanship, I wish to thank the Member States, Permanent Participants and Working Groups of the Arctic Council for their valuable inputs in preparing for this meeting and what we have now achieved”, said the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Mr. Kimmo Tiilikainen. Finland also announced its support for international and regional collaboration on reducing black carbon emissions. The preparation of the summary of the meeting by the Finnish Chairmanship will continue in cooperation with the Arctic States and Permanent Participants.

This was the first meeting of the Arctic Council Environment Ministers in five years. The outcome of the meeting will be shared with the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting to be held in May 2019 and contribute to future environmental cooperation of the Arctic Council.

source: Finlands environment ministry

Prime Minister Sipilä prepares for Finland’s EU Presidency during visit to Portugal

Finland to send abroad four ambassadors of education and research

By Xuefei Chen Axelsson

STOCKHOLM, SEPT. 29(Greenpost) — The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs are working together to increase the visibility of Finnish competence at four destinations abroad. The first ambassadors of Finnish education and research, or Team Finland Knowledge experts, have been appointed to Buenos Aires, Beijing, Singapore and Washington.

The Team Finland Knowledge experts will promote Finnish educational and research cooperation and the exports of Finnish knowledge, expertise and educational innovation. The experts will be working at Finnish Embassies as part of the Team Finland country teams as of 1 October. First, they will undergo training in Finland.

“The aim is a more open and international Finland. The first four ambassadors of education, research and education export will boost internationalisation and exports and reinforce Finland’s reputation as a leading country in education, science and innovation,” says Minister of Education Sanni Grahn-Laasonen.

“Next year the Team Finland Knowledge network will expand as we will be sending our representatives to Pretoria, Moscow and New Delhi. Other postings will be discussed later on,” the Minister says.

Emilia Ahvenjärvi was appointed to Buenos Aires from the post of an expert of education export at the University of Lapland. She has also worked at EduCluster Finland and the University of Jyväskylä in Finland and as an education expert in Latin America.

Mari-Anna Suurmunne, who was selected to represent the network in Beijing, was Head of International Relations at Aalto University. She has also worked as Director of International Relations at Helsinki School of Economics and as an expert at the Embassy of Canada to Finland.

Anna Korpi, who will be heading out to Singapore, worked as a Director at EduCluster Finland. She was in charge of EduCluster’s East and Southeast Asia operations in 2014–2017. She has also worked for Jyväskylä Joint Authority for Education as Development Coordinator and for UniServices Ltd.

Ilkka Turunen was appointed to Washington from the post of Senior Ministerial Adviser to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Culture. He has also served as Secretary-General of the Research and Innovation Council and worked at the Department for Higher Education and Science Policy where he was responsible for international cooperation in higher education, among other tasks. Turunen has worked as Counsellor in Finland’s embassies in Paris and Brussels.

The Team Finland Knowledge experts are appointed for a three-year term, with the option of two additional years. They will be posted at Finnish Embassies.

The Team Finland Knowledge network will implement Finland’s policies to promote the internationalisation of higher education and research. The policy aims to build up the quality of Finnish higher education and research, reach a globally acknowledged pioneering position by 2025 and boost the exports of Finnish knowledge, expertise and educational innovation

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

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.