Source: Government of Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin will attend a special meeting of the European Council in Brussels on 9 and 10 February. The meeting will focus on Ukraine, the economy and competitiveness, and migration. After the meeting, the Prime Minister will visit Luxembourg.The European Council is expected to continue the discussion on the EU’s economy and competitiveness at its March and June meetings.In Luxembourg, Prime Minister Marin and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel will discuss topical EU matters and the bilateral relations between Finland and Luxembourg. This will be Prime Minister Marin’s first visit to Luxembourg.Inquiries: Jari Luoto, Director General, EU Affairs Department, tel. +358 50 468 5949, Saara Pokki, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 50 478 6363 and Rami Kurth, Communications Specialist (EU Affairs), tel. +358 50 465 7963, Prime Minister’s Office
Source: Government of Finland Finland will be sending EUR 1 million in humanitarian assistance to Türkiye and Syria through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The support will be used to provide food, shelter, medical supplies and psychosocial support to people who lost their homes in the two countries.The rescue effort was launched quickly following the devastating earthquake that struck southern Türkiye on Monday 6 February. More than 5,000 people died and more than 20,000 were injured in Türkiye and Syria. “The scale of human distress is immense in the region, and fear of aftershocks makes it worse. Finland wants to help quickly those affected by the disaster. Turkish and Syrian teams of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society are already helping people on the ground, for example by providing meals and emergency shelters, and Finland supports their work,” says Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari. Finland’s support will be delivered to the region by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). IFRC has launched emergency appeals for EUR 70.6 million to support affected people in Türkiye and Syria. The collected funds will allow IFRC to provide food, shelter, medical supplies and psychosocial support, among other help, to people who lost their homes in the two countries. Turkish and Syrian teams of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society are already helping people on the ground, and Finland supports their work.The Ministry for Foreign Affairs also supports the Finnish Red Cross on an annual basis to ensure its capacity to quickly mobilise response to disasters and crises.The earthquake struck in a region that is politically fragmented and controlled by many different groups. Moreover, 4.1 million people in north-western Syria were already in need of humanitarian assistance. Poor communication connections, unreliable electricity supply and collapsed road networks make it difficult to monitor the situation and deliver relief.In addition to humanitarian assistance, Finland is sending experts to Türkiye to assist in rescue and relief work. The experts will be deployed through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism: https://intermin.fi/en/-/finland-sends-expert-assistance-to-turkiye-
Source: Government of Finland Last year the Finns designated about 4,700 hectares of forest for permanent protection under the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland METSO. About 90 hectares were protected for 20 years. The aim of the METSO Programme is to establish 96,000 hectares of new protected areas by 2025. This year there is a record amount of funding available for environmental forestry subsidy agreements.By the end of 2022 almost 89,000 hectares had been protected, which means that 93% of the protection target had been achieved. The area covered by environmental forestry subsidy agreements and nature management works was about 3,800 hectares. This means that 73% (59,800 hectares) of the target of 82,000 hectares had been achieved. “It has been great to see how many Finnish forest owners are willing to protect biodiversity and improve the state of forest nature by voluntarily offering their forests for protection. METSO Programme is reaching the target set for protection, and I wish to thank all forest owners who have designated areas for protection over the years”, says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo.Last year about 3,600 hectares of forest habitats were protected by ten-year environmental forestry subsidy agreements. Nature management works were carried out on about 157 hectares of private forests. “Forest owners are willing to use the means available under the METSO Programme to protect forest biodiversity. This is most valuable. Fixed-term protection agreements are flexible for the forest owners and they seem to maintain their popularity. Adequate funding for voluntary forest protection must be secured in future as well,” says Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Antti Kurvinen.Figures: Implementation of the METSO Programme in the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and the Finnish Forest Centre 2008–2022. The figures of the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment do not include 13,000 hectares of forest protected by Metsähallitus under the METSO Programme in 2014, but this is also counted towards the implementation of the METSO ProgrammHundreds of forest owners protected their forests permanentlyThe number of decisions made on permanent protection was 450. This means that hundreds of forest owners have ended up protecting their forests as permanent conservation areas under the Nature Conservation Act or sold their forests to the State to be designated as nature reserves. The largest are, about 1,000 hectares, was protected in the area governed by the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Southwest Finland. The average size of the protected sites is about 10 hectares. Last year, the average compensation for permanent protection was about EUR 7,200 per hectare.Environmental forestry subsidy agreements still popularForest owners continue to submit considerable numbers of requests for surveys concerning nature sites that are valuable for biodiversity. Last year almost 1,300 ten-year environmental forestry subsidy agreements were concluded. The funding available for the subsidies last year was not adequate to meet the amount of funding applied for, and part of the payments were transferred to this year. Growing numbers of actors in the forest sector have assisted forest owners in drawing up environmental forestry subsidy applications, and in 2022 such actors prepared applications concerning more than 900 hectares.The average size of sites covered by environmental forestry subsidy agreements is just under 3 hectares and the average compensation to the forest owner for a ten-year agreement was about EUR 2,200 per hectare. The compensation varies between regions, depending on the regional average stumpage price used in the calculation.Aim to protect at least 3,700 hectares permanentlyThe total area left to meet the target for permanent protection by 2025 in the METSO Programme is just about 7,000 hectares. The aim for permanent protection this year is at least 3,700 hectares. In permanent protection the main focus will stay on sites located in southern Finland, but valuable forest sites will be protected throughout the country. The Ministry of the Environment promotes forest protection with a separate appropriation that is targeted, in particular, to areas not covered by the METSO Programme, i.e. to northern Finland. Such a separate appropriation was granted for the first time in 2020 and the funding allocated to forest protection in the 2023 Budget is EUR 9 million. With this appropriation the means of the METSO Programme will be used to carry out voluntary forest protection, but the actions and results will not be counted towards the implementation of the METSO Programme. Record funding for ten-year environmental forestry subsidy agreements this yearNow is a good time for forest owners who are interested in fixed-term protection to offer valuable nature sites to be included in the METSO Programme. The aim is to conclude environmental forestry subsidy agreements for as large an area as possible, at least 4,000 hectares, and to undertake nature management of habitats on at least 100 hectares. The Finnish Forest Centre advises forest owners on how to apply for the subsidies.For this year about EUR 13.6 million will be reserved for fixed-term environmental forestry subsidy agreements and 2.2 million for nature management projects that will also implement the measures of the METSO Programme. This is almost twice the amounts reserved for these in the previous years.Nature management projects promote water protection, improving the state of habitats and the emergence of post-fire and burned habitats. The Forest Centre offers projects that have been prepared in advance to be implemented through public calls for applications. This year there will be two calls for applications.With respect to environmental forestry subsidy agreements and nature management we are behind the targets set in the METSO Programme. Reaching the target set for 2025 requires that the funding stays on the same level in the next couple of year. Adequate resources must also be available for the planning of nature management projects, preparation of applications and processing of decisions. Voluntary forest protection under METSO Programme to continue until 2030The new Nature Conservation Act will provide the legislative framework for action programmes concerning voluntary nature conservation. The new Nature Conservation Act will enter into force 1st June 2023. Besides the METSO Programme, voluntary action to protect biodiversity is taken under the Helmi Programme focused on the restoration and management of habitats. The continuation of the METSO Programme until 2030 is included in the Government Resolution on the Helmi Programme. The content and new targets of that term of the METSO Programme will be specified in 2025 at the latest.Inquiries:Esa Pynnönen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Environment tel. +358 295 250 386 [email protected]Ville Schildt, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry tel. +358 295 162 190 [email protected]More information about METSO and voluntary forest protection: fi/en/frontpage” class=”yja-external-link”>metsonpolku.fi
Source: Government of Finland Finland is rapidly sending a team of experts to Türkiye to assist in rescue efforts following a major earthquake. The experts will be deployed through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.A major earthquake took place early on Monday morning in south-eastern Türkiye and in Syria. The earthquake was measured at magnitude 7.4–7.8. The earthquake has caused immense damage. Both countries have reported collapsed buildings and large numbers of fatalities and injuries. The clearing of wreckage is underway, and it is feared that the number of victims will rise.Türkiye has requested international assistance and experts to assist in the search for people. Finland and many other countries have pledged to send support to the region. Türkiye requested expert assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Finland is sending experts to Türkiye to assist in rescue work and support tasks. “The situation in the area hit by the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria is very serious. I would like to express my deepest condolences to all the victims of the earthquake and their families and friends. It is vital that expert assistance reaches the destination as quickly as possible to help in rescue efforts. We are also preparing other forms of assistance, because the destruction and need for assistance are considerable. We are working closely with other EU countries in providing assistance,” says Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen. In addition to expert assistance, Finland is also looking into the possibility of sending other forms of assistance, such as any material assistance, to the affected area in Türkiye and Syria.Assistance provided through the EU Civil Protection MechanismAny country can request assistance via the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism if it faces a crisis that it cannot handle alone. These crises can be natural or human-induced disasters, such as major accidents, technological, chemical and environmental accidents or terrorist acts. Requests for assistance are coordinated by the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), operating under the European Commission.Assistance provided through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is based on the national resources of the EU Member States. The assistance may take the form of specialised rescue teams or expert and material assistance. The Ministry of the Interior decides on the provision of international assistance in the field of rescue services. Finland has actively provided expert assistance across the world in the event of earthquakes.Inquiries: Pekka Tiainen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 50 456 4477, [email protected] (international civil protection missions) Pauliina Eskola, Director of International Affairs, Department for Rescue Services, tel. +358 295 488 263, [email protected] Mikko Jalo, Special Adviser to the Minister of the Interior, tel. +358 50 304 8522, [email protected]
Source: Government of Finland Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka opened, on 6 February 2023, the Elements of 6G Unleashed organised by Business Finland and 6G Finland.The recent progress in the research and development of 6G at the national and European levels was discussed in the event. Finland is a leader in developing mobile technologies, including more efficient 6G networks.In his opening speech, Minister Harakka emphasised the cooperation between democratic countries in developing and utilising technology.– Our core values, individual freedom and fundamental rights, must be guaranteed in the regulation and standards of 6G technologies. Safety and climate protection must also be taken into account from the very beginning, says Minister Harakka.He met with the European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, who delivered the closing remarks. Minister Harakka and Commissioner Breton discussed cyber security, the intercontinental data cable and the EU’s competitiveness.– The EU’s cyber capabilities are emphasised in the current security situation. At the same time, the green and digital transitions go hand in hand; one doesn’t exist without the other. As to green production planning, it is worthwhile to invest where Europe has the competitive advantage. 6G enables climate industry. The Commissioner was also interested in the new Arctic data connection planned by Finland, says Minister Harakka.Inquiries:Johanna Juselius, Special Adviser to Minister Timo Harakka, requests for interviews with the Minister, tel. +358 295 342 141, [email protected]Kaisa Kopra, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 441 8005, [email protected]businessfinland.fi/en/whats-new/events/2023/6g-bridge-program-launch-elements-of-6g-unleashed” class=”yja-external-link”>Business Finland: Elements of 6G Unleashed (the event will be recorded and made available for viewing afterwards)
Source: Government of Finland The 61st session of the UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD61) will be held in New York from 6 to 15 February 2023. Finland will be represented at the session by Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Sarkkinen and Youth Delegate Hung Ly. Finland, the International Labour Organization ILO, the African Union and UN Women will organise a side event focusing on social protection and the effects of climate change. The priority theme for the 61st session of the UN Commission for Social Development will be creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The session will also address the social impacts of multifaceted crises.”Social sustainability is an essential part of the goals of the 2030 Agenda. Strengthening it is important in the current global situation marred by numerous crises,” says Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Sarkkinen. Perspectives of young people on employment, decent work and education Minister Sarkkinen and UN Youth Delegate of Finland Hung Ly will deliver Finland’s address in the general discussion. “The opportunities for the most vulnerable people to access education and find decent work must be actively improved. We need multi-level cooperation and targeted programmes now more than ever to guarantee security and opportunities for everyone. It is a human rights and security issue,” says Youth Delegate Hung Ly. The side event organised jointly by Finland, the International Labour Organization ILO, the African Union and UN Women will discuss social protection as a way of supporting those poor and vulnerable people who are losing their livelihood or income as a result of climate change.
The UN Commission for Social Development is the key UN body dealing with the social dimension of sustainable development. The main task of the Commission is to monitor the implementation of the outcome of the Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development (1995). It also participates in monitoring the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Finland is a member of the Commission for a fixed period.
Source: Government of Finland The Ministry of the Environment has published guidelines concerning the priority treatment of projects that promote investments in the green transition in permit procedures. The guidelines are available on the website of the Regional State Administrative Agency. They are intended both for the permit applicants and for the Regional State Administrative Agencies and Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. Subject to certain conditions, operators can apply for priority treatment in the processing of environmental permits under the Environmental Protection Act and/or permits for water resources management projects under the Water Act at the Regional State Administrative Agencies in 2023–2026. The aim of the priority treatment is to speed up the processing of permit applications so that the total processing time would be shorter than the average. In other respects an application that has received priority treatment is processed in the same way and using the same criteria as other permit applications.Projects concerning the following can be eligible for priority treatment: energy production establishments that use renewable energy to produce energy and offshore wind farms and the related water resources management projects;industrial projects based on renewable energy or electrification that replace the use of fossil fuels or raw materials;manufacture and utilisation of hydrogen, except for manufacture of hydrogen from fossil fuels; capture, utilisation and storage of carbon dioxide;battery factory and manufacture, recovery and reuse of battery materials.In addition, the project must comply with the Do No Significant Harm principle.The legislation concerning priority treatment promotes Finland’s aim to become the world’s first fossil-free welfare society. The proposal and the legislation concerned is also linked to the targets of the Government programme to promote the circular economy and halt biodiversity loss. Appeals that are important with respect to the green transition will be processed as urgent at the administrative courts in 2023–2028. Guidelines will be translated into English in February.Inquiries:Sami Rinne, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 250 361, [email protected]
Source: Government of Finland The Permanent Secretaries of the ministries have drawn up a joint outlook on key issues for Finland’s next two government terms. The report aims to shift the focus from topical themes to a longer-term perspective. The Opportunities for Finland report published on 6 February provides a knowledge base for discussions around the elections this spring and for drawing up the next government programme.According to the outlook, the governments of the next two parliamentary terms will face five key challenges: 1. The conditions for economic growth must be strengthened. 2. Rapid progress must be made on the green transition. 3. Equality and democracy must be strengthened. 4. Further measures must be taken to improve Finland’s security and resilience to crisis. 5. General government finances must be balanced considerably. The report focuses on how to address these challenges and considers what directions the solutions could take. It is difficult to balance general government finances without the support of economic growth. For the next two parliamentary terms, the Permanent Secretaries recommend launching reforms to improve the conditions for economic growth without delay, as their impacts will take time to materialise. At the same time, the next government should begin working to balance general government finances. Efforts should be made to achieve a balance in general government finances over the next two parliamentary terms. The emphasis and timing of the measures will require due political consideration.Availability of labour poses an increasing challenge – employment rate should increase to 80 per cent and work-based immigration should doubleIn the 2020s, Finland’s demographic structure will be in a situation where the availability of labour presents an even greater sociopolitical challenge and obstacle to economic growth. At the same time, the ageing of the population will increase the need for labour in health and social services. To address these challenges, the permanent secretaries recommend increasing the employment rate to 80 per cent and doubling the rate of work-based immigration. Both of these are demanding objectives, and achieving them will require consistent and also difficult decisions in a number of policy areas. The green transition is a global phenomenon that requires major investments. In this respect, Finland has many strengths. The primary duty of the public sector is to encourage and promote the channelling of private investments cost-effectively and consistently. The challenges and solutions described in the report are interconnected, both within Finland and beyond its borders. The most important thing is to work towards a balanced policy that advances different perspectives at the same time while also recognising the interdependencies between them. At the overall level, the report recognises a need to strengthen the perspectives of ecological and social sustainability alongside the economic perspective. In addition to these, the report highlights the role of security as a prerequisite for a stable and well-functioning society.Inquiries: Henrik Haapajärvi, State Secretary, tel. +358 9 1602 2006, and Jouni Varanka, Ministerial Adviser, Prime Minister’s Office, tel. +358 295 160 177
Source: Government of Finland The EU ministers responsible for competitiveness will meet at informal meetings in Stockholm in early February 2023. Thematically, the internal market and industrial policy meeting will focus on the ongoing debate on the EU economy and global competitiveness, especially as concerns the internal market and green transition. The research and innovation meeting will discuss research infrastructures and scientific publication.The informal meeting of competitiveness ministers on 6–7 February will discuss internal market and industrial issues. Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen will represent Finland at the meeting. Research and innovation issues will be on the agenda at the meeting of 7–8 February where Finland will be represented by Ann-Mari Kemell, State Secretary to Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä. No decisions will be made at the informal meetings.Internal market competition is keyAt the internal market and industry meeting, the ministers will discuss the current state of the EU’s competitiveness, particularly with regard to state aid, green transition and a strong internal market. The ministers will exchange views on short-term measures and long-term objectives. These discussions will pave the way for the extraordinary European Council meeting to be held at the end of the same week. “We must ensure Europe’s competitiveness and select measures that will contribute to its competitiveness in the long term too. An accessible internal market that is open to competition is Europe’s strength. It is important that state aid from the Member States used to promote growth and the green and digital transitions is allocated in a way that provides a level playing field for all operators in the internal market,” Minister of Employment Haatainen says.The Commission is currently in consultation with the Member States to increase the flexibility of state aid rules. Openness of research must be improvedAt the innovation and research meeting, the ministers will discuss research infrastructures and scientific publication. The discussions will serve as a basis for the Council’s future conclusions on open science and scientific publication. “For the sake of our competitiveness, Europe must be an attractive place for research and innovation for both public and private operators. The openness of research must be improved because it promotes the quality, reliability and, above all, effectiveness of research,” State Secretary Kemell says. Inquiries: Taru Löyttymäki, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 177
Source: Government of Finland The EU General Affairs Council (GAC) will meet in Brussels on Monday 6 February. The meeting will focus on preparations for the February Special European Council. The GAC will also discuss relations between the EU and the United Kingdom and receive an overview of Sweden’s priorities for its Presidency of the Council of the EU. Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering Tytti Tuppurainen will represent Finland at the meeting.The GAC will discuss the European Council’s draft conclusions concerning Ukraine and Russia, the economy and competitiveness, and migration, which the Council will adopt at its meeting on 9 February.Finland sees no need for a fundamental change in the EU’s state aid policy at this time. Any changes related to the timetable or content of state aid rules should be made following a fact-based analysis and in response to the needs identified by impact assessments. In the current situation, Member States must be able to use EU funds as flexibly as possible to promote the EU’s competitiveness, resilience and green transition. Finland does not currently see the need for additional funding or for the creation of entirely new EU-level funding instruments.“A single market based on open competition and the efficient use of existing EU resources forms the foundation for the EU’s long-term competitiveness and plays a key role in solving current and future challenges. Maintaining a level playing field for European companies and preventing competition for state aid between Member States are and must remain at the heart of the EU state aid rules,” Minister Tuppurainen says.