Finland’s Brain Drain: When Talent Leaves a Small Country

Helsinki Finland
Sundown in Helsinki, Finland, August 9, 2008 (WomEOS)

Young Finnish professionals are attracted to major European capitals. They move to Stockholm, Berlin and Amsterdam, as well as farther away. The sun shines in Dubai; the world’s top organizations and institutes are in New York and Washington. The occupations of these migrants are manifold: bankers, graphic designers, computer engineers, photographers and researchers, to name only a few.

They leave Finland because of poor employment opportunities and future prospects. This has been happening for a long time. Finns were moving to North America 100 years ago and to Sweden after World War II — in both cases because growing economies needed factory workers.

The difference with today’s migrants is they are better educated (PDF) and leaving a welfare state that ranks as one of the best places to live in the world according to most indices. The likelihood of them returning has nevertheless fallen sharply. Why? Read more “Finland’s Brain Drain: When Talent Leaves a Small Country”

Nordics Back Britain’s European Reform Efforts

David Cameron
British prime minister David Cameron in Riga, Latvia, February 28, 2013 (UK in Latvia)

Britain won support from Finland and Sweden on Monday for its efforts to reform its relationship with the European Union. But there is also misgiving in the region that the United Kingdom’s push for a looser affiliation with the continent could lead to a two-speed Europe that sees non-euro countries relegated to second-class status.

Alexander Stubb, Finland’s finance minister, said Britain was justified in demanding further liberalization, especially in services, as well as restrictions on welfare benefits for migrant workers.

“Our take is very simple: without the United Kingdom there is no European Union,” he said after consulting with his British counterpart, George Osborne, in Helsinki. Read more “Nordics Back Britain’s European Reform Efforts”

Eurozone Parliaments Back Greek Bailout

German parliament Berlin
The Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany (Pixabay)

Parliaments in the eurozone voted in favor of another support program for Greece this week but there were signs of rebellion on the left and the right.

In Germany, sixty of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own Christian Democrats voted against the planned €86 billion bailout — which would come on top of the €240 billion European countries and the International Monetary Fund have lent the Balkan nation since 2010.

Despite Merkel’s insistence that the country would be watched carefully — this time — by its creditors to ensure that what she described as “unprecedented European solidarity” was matched by the implementation of economic reforms, rightwingers are skeptical. Not only has Greece repeatedly reneged on its reform commitments in the past; it now has a far-left government that was elected on promises to end austerity. Read more “Eurozone Parliaments Back Greek Bailout”

Third Bailout Tough Sell in Northern Creditor States

European Council president Donald Tusk listens to German chancellor Angela Merkel during a meeting of conservative party leaders in Brussels, July 12
European Council president Donald Tusk listens to German chancellor Angela Merkel during a meeting of conservative party leaders in Brussels, July 12 (EPP)

The €82 to €86 billion bailout European leaders agreed to give Greece on Sunday — provided it enacts far-reaching economic reforms — could be a tough sell in those creditor states that have taken the hardest line in recent negotiations.

Two of the three right-wing parties in Finland’s ruling coalition voted against Greece’s second bailout in 2012 when they were in opposition. Neither is particular sympathetic now that Greece has canceled some of the reforms it was committed to undertake and has a far-left government that was elected on a promise to end austerity. Read more “Third Bailout Tough Sell in Northern Creditor States”

Finnish Right-Wing Coalition Could Take Hard Line in Europe

Finnish party leaders Timo Soini, Juha Sipilä and Alexander Stubb deliver a news conference in Helsinki, May 8
Finnish party leaders Timo Soini, Juha Sipilä and Alexander Stubb deliver a news conference in Helsinki, May 8 (Finnish Government/Sakari Piippo)

Finland’s next coalition government could take a hard line in Europe as the nationalist Finns Party is expected to come to power for the first time.

In an interview with MTV television last week, Finns Party leader Timo Soini suggested that eurozone members who are unable to keep up with deeper integration may have to leave the single-currency union. Asked if he would like to see Greece leave the euro, Soini said, “That would perhaps be the clearest option, for everybody, also for the Greeks.” Read more “Finnish Right-Wing Coalition Could Take Hard Line in Europe”

Finland Deploys Navy as Russian Submarine Suspected

Helsinki Finland
Sundown in Helsinki, Finland, August 9, 2008 (WomEOS)

Finland’s navy said on Tuesday it had dropped three warning charges over an unidentified object in the Nordic country’s territorial waters near the capital, Helsinki.

The incident comes six months after neighboring Sweden scrambled its maritime forces in a hunt for what was suspected to be a Russian submarine in its waters. Read more “Finland Deploys Navy as Russian Submarine Suspected”

Right-Wing Coalition Likely in Finland After Center Party Victory

Sundown in Helsinki, Finland, August 9, 2008
Sundown in Helsinki, Finland, August 9, 2008 (WomEOS)

Finland’s Center Party won the parliamentary election on Sunday while the Euroskeptic Finns Party was projected to narrowly beat Prime Minister Alexander Stubb’s conservative National Coalition into third place.

With the Social Democrats winning only 34 seats in Finland’s 200-seat legislature — down from 42 in the last election — a center-right coalition, including the Finns, seemed most likely to take over from the broad alliance that has governed the Nordic country since 2011. Read more “Right-Wing Coalition Likely in Finland After Center Party Victory”

Finland’s Left-Right Coalition Unlikely to Survive Election

With an election less than two weeks away, Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb is turning on his left-wing coalition partners, saying governing with the Social Democrats has been a “traumatic experience.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, Stubb argued that his conservative National Coalition Party had been “bound by shackles coming from the left” and that there was no “team play” in the four-party coalition that also includes the Christian Democrats and the Swedish People’s Party.

The Greens withdrew from the government in September when the other parties approved the construction of a new nuclear power plant. Read more “Finland’s Left-Right Coalition Unlikely to Survive Election”

Finland, Sweden Announce Military Pact

A Swedish navy ship off the coast of Gourock, Scotland, June 3, 2011
A Swedish navy ship off the coast of Gourock, Scotland, June 3, 2011 (Easylocum)

Alarmed by Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, Finland and Sweden announced a new military cooperation agreement on Thursday that could see the two Scandinavian countries go to war together in the event of an attack.

Although the arrangement would seem to mimic the mutual defense charter of NATO, to which neither Finland nor Sweden belongs, Stockholm’s defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, said the cooperation was not a formal alliance.

“By planning for various crisis scenarios, we create preparations to use them in a given situation,” he told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Whether or not we end up implementing these proposals is a decision that has to be made at government level in that situation and then confirmed by the parliaments in the two countries.

Hultqvist’s Finnish counterpart, Carl Haglund, similarly told the TT news agency, “This gives us a concrete ability to work together, first and foremost in peacetime but also in times of crisis should we choose to.”

New forms of cooperation may include increased communication and shared military bases.

Late last year, Finland and Sweden agreed with other Northern European countries, including neighboring Denmark and Norway, which are both members of NATO, to improve intelligence sharing and joint air force training in the face of renewed Russian threats.

Russia has played a cat-and-mouse game with its western neighbors since it occupied and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine last year. The incident, which came after a row with the European Union over the bloc’s improving relations with the former Soviet republic and the overthrow of a relatively pro-Russian president in Kiev, alarmed especially Eastern European nations about Russian revanchism.

Fighter jets from Scandinavian and NATO countries have regularly intercepted Russian strategic bombers and planes approaching their airspace through last year as tensions over the standoff in Ukraine mounted.

In October, Sweden scrambled its naval forces in search of a suspected Russian submarine in its waters.

Support for joining NATO surged in the wake of the incident. A Novus poll conducted for TV4 showed 37 percent of the traditionally neutral Swedes in favor of NATO membership against 36 percent who opposed joining the alliance. Earlier in the year, only 28 percent had been in favor against 56 percent opposed.

A majority of Fins still opposes NATO membership. Prime Minister Alexander Stubb is not among them. “We have to aim at maximising Finland’s national security and being part of decisionmaking and that happens best as a NATO member,” he told the Reuters news agency shortly before taking over as premier from Jyrki Katainen in June.

Finland’s Stubb Rules Out Greek Debt Reduction

Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb ruled out reductions in Greece’s debt this week, setting up his small but wealthy eurozone country for a possible standoff with Greece if the far-left Syriza party wins the election there next week.

Stubb told the Financial Times, “It is clear that we would say a resounding ‘no’ to forgiving the loans” of Greece, especially given that Finland itself is “struggling at the moment.” Read more “Finland’s Stubb Rules Out Greek Debt Reduction”