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Finn report Finn report
by Euro Reporter
2011-10-25 07:18:08
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Parliament’s speaker condemns opposition to Bulgaria, Romania's Schengen entry

Finland's parliament speaker Eero Heinäluoma has criticised his country's decision to block the admission of Romania and Bulgaria to the visa-free Schengen zone, Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reported, as quoted by Bulgarian news agency BTA. According to Heinäluoma, the course of action taken by Finland is "problematic".

The official also considers that it is difficult to see any benefits to Finland if Romania and Bulgaria stay out of Schengen, because people from these states are able to move freely within the European Union simply by showing a passport or identity card. "In this respect, I would recommend following the example of Germany and other central European countries in allowing the Schengen membership of Romania and Bulgaria", Heinäluoma said.

Finland's aim should be to make friends, not enemies, according to the speaker. Heinäluoma expects that a compromise will be made in the coming months. On September 22, Finland joined the Netherlands in vetoing the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to Schengen at a meeting of EU interior ministers. Finland's interior minister Paivi Rasanen said at that time that Romania and Bulgaria's ability to guarantee the safety of EU borders could not be fully trusted, including in the case of corruption.


Turning EFSF into a bank not a good idea

Turning the European bailout fund into a bank "isn't a good idea," Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen said Saturday. Speaking to reporters outside a meeting of European leaders, he also insisted that the European Financial Stability Facility should only be used in emergency situations.

"I hope we'll find a way to increase the lending capacity of the EFSF so that it's used only in emergency situations," he said. Katainen also said that the euro zone "cannot go to the direction where the debt is shared by all the euro-area governments." The Finnish prime minister also said that shareholders should be responsible for bank recapitalizations where possible.

The "first option is that the owners of the banks should pay the price," he said. "The second-best option is that individual governments support the banks." Using the EFSF is only a "final option," he said. "It means the country in trouble is the only one that can get some money if it's not possible (for them) to raise money on the markets."


Finnish metals, engineering workers strike

About 30,000 Finnish metals and engineering industry workers began a strike Friday, expected to hit the country's vital export trade, with fears it could spread in two weeks' time. The industrial action came after unions and management rejected National Conciliator Esa Lonka's mediation proposal on wages and working conditions, following days of negotiations.

The two-week strike will affect about 40 companies, including some of Finland's largest metals industry exporters. The union of professional workers has warned it would expand the strike to include 78 companies on Nov. 7, unless talks are resumed and agreement is reached. The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries has estimated that a two-week strike would cost export companies $16 billion (euro11.5 billion) in lost earnings. The sector accounts for 60 percent of Finland's exports and 80 percent of all investments in the country's research and development.

Last week, central trade unions and main employers’ organizations agreed on the outlines of a centralized labour contract that would have hiked wages by 4.3 percent over two years for about 2 million workers. But local union chiefs in technological industries, including the metals and engineering sectors, rejected the deal against the recommendations of central trade union leaders. Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen urged the parties to reopen talks, saying the strike could be disastrous for Finland's export-driven economy and scupper last week's outline for a centralized labour contract.

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