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Finnish report
by Euro Reporter
2013-06-18 10:51:31
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Finland says Russia invaded its airspace

The Finnish Defence Ministry said in a statement released Wednesday two Russian military aircraft crossed into Finland's airspace. The ministry said the incident took place early Tuesday over the Gulf of Finland. The Finnish Air Force dispatched Hornet fighter jets to identify the intruders, the statement reads. The Russian Defence Ministry admitted their aircraft were in the vicinity of Finland but denied they entered Finnish airspace, RIA Novosti said.

This is the second incident of its kind in a month, RIA Novosti said, and the Russian government denied Finland's last accusation, as well. In 2008, Finland announced plans to purchase 12 new radar systems due to alleged, repeated invasions of its airspace by Russian jets.


Finland Parliament not likely to ban fur farming

The Finland Parliament’s Agriculture and Forestry Committee is not backing a citizen’s initiative to ban fur farming. The committee stance will most likely be approved by parliament before midsummer. The draft bill is the first citizens’ initiative that has made it to the Parliament. The Agriculture and Forestry Committee concluded that fur farming continues to be a lawful occupation of considerable significance in terms of the economy and employment, especially in provinces of Ostrobothnia. Fur farming directly employs some 4,000 people, while 13,000 are employed indirectly. The trade brings annual export profits of 700-800 million Euros. Two MPs made objections to the position endorsed by the majority of the committee.

The Green League still supports a total ban on fur farming, in accordance with the citizens’ initiative. Greens MP Satu Haapanen says that the trade should be banned on ethical grounds, due to concerns for animal welfare as well as because of environmental problems arising from the business. Haapanen believes that discussion about banning fur farming will go on, even if the Parliament does not pass the initiative. Left Alliance MP Jari Myllykoski said that a full ban is not merited, but added that the committee should have been more critical about the problems and unethical aspects of fur farming.

The majority of the parliamentary committee thought that banning the business in Finland would lead to the same trade moving to other countries. The chair of the committee, Jari Leppä of the Centre Party, asserted that demand for furs was growing. National Coalition Party MP Janne Sonkelo was happy with the committee’s decision. In his view it is important that fur farmers not be subjected to new legal obligations following the citizens’ initiative, as introducing more strict regulations could lead to a decline of the business.

The Agriculture and Forestry Committee expressed concern for the welfare of the animals in the trade. Among its suggestions is the introduction of a special permit for taking breeders outside EU borders. Animals used for breeding live in cages for the longest, and as such, their welfare warrants special attention. The fur animals’ health should also be better looked after than now, and research in the area should be increased, according to the committee.


Finland Enters Recession

Finland slipped into a recession in the three months to March, the latest member of the euro zone to succumb to the currency area's longest post-war contraction that appears set to continue. Finland is regarded by economists as a member of the euro zone's stronger "core," comprising those economies that have relatively manageable debts and high credit ratings. But according to figures released Wednesday by the European Union's statistics agency, Finland joined France and the Netherlands as other core nations mired in recession, and became the ninth euro-zone member to experience at least two straight quarters of economic contraction. Germany and Belgium, two other members of that core group, each grew by just 0.1% over the first quarter, while Austria's economy was flat.

With demand for its exports weakening as other euro-zone nations struggle in the face of rising unemployment and government spending cuts, Finland's gross domestic product shrank 0.1% from the previous quarter and 2.1% compared with the first quarter of 2012, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data by Statistics Finland. Finland's GDP has now contracted for two quarters in a row. An economic recession is typically defined as a decline in GDP for two or more consecutive quarters. Meanwhile, the decline in output across the euro zone appears set to enter a seventh straight quarter in the three months to June, with figures released Wednesday showing retail sales fell for a third straight month in April, while surveys of purchasing managers confirmed private-sector activity fell again in May.

Data company Markit said Wednesday its gauge of activity across the manufacturing and services sectors in the 17-nation euro zone rose to 47.7 in May from 46.9 in April, confirming an earlier estimate. The below-50 reading means activity shrank, but at the least severe rate in the last three months, Markit said. Figures released by Eurostat on Wednesday showed retail sales—a big component of household spending—fell by 0.5% in April from May, the third straight month of decline and the largest since December 2012. With demand for the euro zone's exports weak as a result of anaemic global growth, some revival in domestic demand—or spending by households and businesses—is likely essential if the currency area is to return to growth. "The reality is that the region lacks any growth drivers," said Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist. "Anything better than a mere stabilization of economic activity remains unlikely for the foreseeable future." Eurostat confirmed that the combined GDP of the 17 nations using the euro was 0.2% lower in the first quarter than in the fourth quarter of 2012, equivalent to an annualized decline of 0.9%.


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