Climate change and migration create discussion in Finland

The Climate and Energy Package stirs emotions

The cli­mate and ener­gy pack­age got a lot of atten­tion in Fin­land. Accord­ing to a sur­vey con­duct­ed ear­li­er this year, 77 per­cent of the Finnish cit­i­zens said that they were wor­ried about cli­mate change and envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems. 72 per­cent of Finns see them as issues which the EU can have a pos­i­tive impact on.[1] Pro­fes­sor Esko Anto­la warned that it should be realised that there is a gap between Finns’ expec­ta­tions and what the EU can actu­al­ly do.[2]

The cli­mate and ener­gy pack­age has also a lot of atten­tion amongst the offi­cials in Fin­land. Min­is­ter of Migra­tion and Euro­pean Affairs, Astrid Thors, was of the opin­ion that with­out the EU, Fin­land would hard­ly be pro­gress­ing with the use of renew­able nat­ur­al resources as it is now.[3] Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Satu Has­si (Greens), has expressed her dis­ap­point­ment about the cli­mate and ener­gy pack­age. Has­si stat­ed that the EU copped out and gave too many con­ces­sions to the indus­tries’ lob­by­ing. The Finnish Prime Min­is­ter Mat­ti Van­hanen con­sid­ered the pack­age a good thing from Finland’s point of view. Indus­try has also had main­ly pos­i­tive views on the pack­age, for exam­ple, the for­est indus­try got about 80 per­cent of their emis­sions for free. Fin­land also got through its goal about the ref­er­ence year: the emis­sion rights to be auc­tioned off are now based on more than one ref­er­ence year.[4] Fin­land is espe­cial­ly keen on the for­est indus­try being among the indus­tries get­ting free emis­sion rights.[5]

The envi­ron­men­tal organ­i­sa­tions have stat­ed their dis­ap­point­ment about the cli­mate and ener­gy pack­age. “Friends of the Earth Fin­land”, the “Finnish Asso­ci­a­tion for Nature Con­ser­va­tion” (“Suomen Luon­non­suo­jeluli­it­to”), and “WWF Fin­land”, all con­sid­ered the pack­age as “a dis­grace­ful fail­ure”. Accord­ing to Leo Stra­nius from the “Finnish Asso­ci­a­tion for Nature Con­ser­va­tion”, the lead­ers of the Euro­pean government’s went back on their words and turned their backs on the glob­al fight against cli­mate change.[6]

The “Con­fed­er­a­tion of Finnish Indus­tries” (EK) con­sid­ers the pack­age as a very heavy bur­den to Fin­land and is afraid that the demands of the Com­mis­sion mean dimin­ished chances for the Finnish com­pa­nies in the inter­na­tion­al markets.[7] The “Con­fed­er­a­tion of Unions for Pro­fes­sion­al and Man­age­r­i­al Staff” (AKAVA) con­sid­ers the pack­age as chal­leng­ing but obtain­able. AKAVA stat­ed that the Com­mis­sion has act­ed com­mend­ably in this dif­fi­cult mat­ter, since with­out its ini­tia­tive not much would have happened.[8] The “Cen­tral Union of Agri­cul­tur­al Pro­duc­ers and For­est Own­ers” (MTK) thinks the pack­age is a pos­i­tive and chal­leng­ing issue for the Finnish agriculture.[9]

Fin­land agreed with the UK on the fact that con­trol­ling cli­mate change is a part of solv­ing the finan­cial cri­sis. Prime Min­is­ter Mat­ti Van­hanen remind­ed that dur­ing the last reces­sion, Fin­land invest­ed in devel­op­ing new tech­nol­o­gy which in time led to a huge rise in the econ­o­my. Van­hanen thinks this is a good time for the EU mem­bers to invest into devel­op­ing renew­able ener­gy sources and ener­gy efficiency.[10] The leader of the Green Par­ty, Tar­ja Cron­berg, agrees with Van­hanen that this is the right moment to invest into cli­mate and ener­gy. How­ev­er, she con­sid­ered that there should be more empha­sis on ser­vices and that from the cli­mate point of view, Vanhanen’s vision is short-lived.[11]

Finns concerned about migration

Migra­tion became a much dis­cussed top­ic in Fin­land last year. This was large­ly due to the increas­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of the True Finns Par­ty, which enabled them to bring the issue up in the pub­lic debate. The True Finns Par­ty push­es for work-based migra­tion and the effec­tive assim­i­la­tion of immi­grants into Finnish culture.[12] At the same time, the migra­tion pact was dis­cussed at the Euro­pean lev­el. For Fin­land, the pact was accept­able, but Fin­land under­lined the fact that the devel­op­ment of a com­pre­hen­sive migra­tion pol­i­cy needs to be con­tin­ued. Fin­land empha­sis­es that there is a need to cre­ate a com­mon asy­lum sys­tem and coop­er­a­tion on prac­ti­cal lev­el between the mem­ber states.[13] In a sur­vey con­duct­ed dur­ing year 2008, near­ly three out of four (72 per­cent) Finnish cit­i­zens saw immi­gra­tion as an EU wide prob­lem and an issue need­ing a joint EU-lev­el pol­i­cy. Only a small minor­i­ty (15 per­cent) disagreed.[14] In a sur­vey held at the begin­ning of Jan­u­ary 2009, 44 per­cent of Finns said that immi­gra­tion-relat­ed prob­lems were a con­cern for them and 43 per­cent report­ed that they felt the EU was in a posi­tion to be able to affect these problems.[15]

The Min­is­ter of Migra­tion and Euro­pean Affairs, Astrid Thors, pre­sent­ed a new migra­tion law late last year that would have been the most lib­er­al in Europe. The pro­pos­al got imme­di­ate­ly a lot of vis­i­bil­i­ty. In three days near­ly 13,000 peo­ple signed an address against the new law. The organ­is­er of the address, Juha Mäki-Ketelä, said that he is wor­ried about Fin­land open­ing its bor­ders while its neigh­bours (Swe­den and Den­mark) are tight­en­ing their migra­tion policies.[16] The com­mit­tee lat­er reject­ed the gov­ern­ments’ pro­pos­al for the new migra­tion law.[17]

Edvard Johans­son and Six­ten Kork­man from “The Research Insti­tute of the Finnish Econ­o­my” argued that the Finnish migra­tion pol­i­cy has to be recon­sid­ered. Due to the age­ing of the pop­u­la­tion, Fin­land needs a more qual­i­fied work force and needs to be able to attract skil­ful immi­grants. This calls for bet­ter migra­tion pol­i­cy. With the sup­port of well man­aged inte­gra­tion pol­i­cy, immi­gra­tion can be ben­e­fi­cial in improv­ing both employ­ment and the financ­ing of the pub­lic sector.[18] Pent­ti Ara­järvi has just fin­ished an inves­ti­ga­tion for the Min­istry of Inte­ri­or on the employ­ment sit­u­a­tion of immi­grants in Fin­land. Accord­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tion, lan­guage train­ing should be offered faster and an inte­gra­tion plan should be draft­ed for all immi­grants. The Min­istry of Inte­ri­or will review the inte­gra­tion pol­i­cy for immi­grants this spring and Arajärvi’s sug­ges­tions will be utilised in this work. Accord­ing to Ara­järvi, the resources tar­get­ed in migra­tion are far too lim­it­ed at the moment.[19]

The “Asso­ci­a­tion of Finnish Local and Region­al Author­i­ties” (“Kun­tali­it­to”) agrees with the Euro­pean Commission’s green paper[20] that immi­grants’ train­ing and devel­op­ment of train­ing ser­vices should be con­nect­ed with inte­gra­tion of immigrants.[21] The asso­ci­a­tion states that in the long term, more sub­stan­tial migra­tion will prof­it the whole Finnish society.[22]

 

 

 

[1] Sur­vey con­duct­ed between 1–11 Jan­u­ary 2009 by TNS Gallup Oy on behalf of the Euro­pean Parliament’s Infor­ma­tion Office in Helsin­ki and MTV3, avail­able at: http://www.europarl.fi/ressource/static/files/dokumenttipankki/EU-2009-RAPORTTI_1.pdf (last access: 10 March 2009).
[2] ”Suo­ma­laiset odot­ta­vat EU:lta toimia ilmas­ton­muu­tok­sen hillit­semisek­si”, Maaseudun Tule­vaisu­us (web edi­tion), 23 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.maaseuduntulevaisuus.fi/uutiset/paauutiset/01/fi_FI/eu_barometri/ (last access: 29 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[3] Astrid Thors, Min­is­ter of Migra­tion and Euro­pean Affairs: Speech at FIIA sem­i­nar, 16 Decem­ber 2008.
[4] ”Ilmastopaket­ti iski riita­soin­nun”, Suomen Kuvale­hti, 22 Decem­ber 2008.
[5] ”EU-kok­ous taiteilee talouden ja ilmas­ton edun välil­lä”, Helsin­gin Sanomat, 10 Decem­ber 2008.
[6] ”EU:n ilmas­to- ja ener­gia­paket­ti vesit­tyi – Euroopan par­la­mentin tulee hylätä esi­tys vas­tu­un­jakodi­rek­ti­ivistä”, Suomen Luon­non­suo­jeluli­it­to, 12 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.sll.fi/tiedotus/tiedotteet/liitto/2008/eu-n-ilmasto-ja-energiapaketti-vesittyi-2014-euroopan-parlamentin-tulee-hylata-esitys-vastuunjakodirektiivista (last access: 22 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[7] Con­fed­er­a­tion of Finnish Indus­tries: ”Ilmas­to- ja ener­gia­paket­ti kova taak­ka Suomelle”, 23 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.ek.fi/www/fi/index.php?we_objectID=7072 (last access: 22 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[8] Con­fed­er­a­tion of Unions for Pro­fes­sion­al and Man­age­r­i­al Staff: ”Aka­va vaatii julk­ista tutkimus­panos­tus­ta ilmas­ton­muu­tok­seen”, 23 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.akava.fi/files/32/Tiedote_Ilmastonmuutos_23012008.doc (last access: 10 March 2009).
[9] Cen­tral Union of Agri­cul­tur­al Pro­duc­ers and For­est Own­ers: ”EU:n ener­giatavoit­teet tuo­vat työtä ja toimeen­tu­loa maaseudulle”, 23 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.mtk.fi/maaseutu/ajankohtaista_maaseutu/maaseutu_uutiset/maaseutu_uutiset_2008/fi_FI/uusiutuva_energia/ (last access: 29 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[10] ”EU-maid­en sitou­tu­mista ilmastopaket­ti­in”, Helsin­gin Sanomat, 16 Octo­ber 2008.
[11] ”Cron­berg: Van­hasen visiot ympäristölle kestämät­tömiä”, Helsin­gin Sanomat, 22 Jan­u­ary 2009.
[12] ”Ulko­maalais­ten kotout­tamis­es­ta voita­va keskustel­la”, Perus­suo­ma­laiset Naiset ry:n hal­li­tus, 29 Novem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.perussuomalaiset.fi/ajankohtaista/?issue=94 (last access: 30 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[13] ”OSA-neu­vos­to 25.9. Brys­selis­sä: Maa­han­muut­to- ja tur­va­paikka­sopimuk­ses­ta yhteisym­mär­rys”, bul­letin of the Min­istry of Inte­ri­or, avail­able at: http://www.intermin.fi/intermin/bulletin.nsf/PFBD/3D14EE2405CB5701C22574CF00412D46?opendocument (last access: 20 Jan­u­ary 2008).
[14] Ilk­ka Haavisto/Pentti Kiljunen: ”Kenen joukois­sa seisot? EVA:n Suo­mi, EU ja maail­ma-asen­netutkimus 2008“, avail­able at: http://www.eva.fi/files/2166_kenen_joukoissa_seisot.pdf (last access: 30 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[15] Sur­vey con­duct­ed between 1–11 Jan­u­ary 2009 by TNS Gallup Oy on behalf of the Euro­pean Parliament’s Infor­ma­tion Office in Helsin­ki and MTV3, avail­able at: http://www.europarl.fi/ressource/static/files/dokumenttipankki/EU-2009-RAPORTTI_1.pdf (last access: 10 March 2009).
[16] ”Thorsin ulko­maalais­lakia vas­taan 13,000 nimeä”, Aamule­hti, 12 Decem­ber 2008.
[17] ”Jär­ki päi­hit­ti pil­vilin­nat”, Aamule­hti, 13 Decem­ber 2008.
[18] Edvard Johansson/Sixten Kork­man, researchers: ”Maa­han­muut­topoli­ti­ika on pan­ta­va uusik­si”, Talouselämä, 28 Novem­ber 2008.
[19] ”Ara­järvi: Lyhtykin työ­jak­so edis­tää maa­han­muut­ta­jien kotou­tu­mista”, Helsin­gin Sanomat, 29 Jan­u­ary 2009.
[20] Euro­pean Com­mis­sion: Green Paper. Migra­tion & mobil­i­ty: chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties for EU edu­ca­tion sys­tems, COM (2008) 423 final, avail­able at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2008:0423:FIN:EN:PDF (last access: 20 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[21] ”Maa­han­muut­to- ja liikku­vu­us- EU:n koulu­tusjär­jestelmien haas­teet ja mah­dol­lisu­udet”, state­ment of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Finnish Local and Region­al Author­i­ties to the Edu­ca­tion and Cul­ture Com­mit­tee of the Finnish Par­lia­ment, 23 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.kunnat.net/k_perussivu.asp?path=1;29;63;376;135102;141553;142166 (last access: 30 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[22] ”Monikult­tuurisu­us ja maa­han­muut­to”, Asso­ci­a­tion of Finnish Local and Region­al Author­i­ties, avail­able at: http://www.kunnat.net/k_perussivu.asp?path=1;29;121;43719 (last access: 30 Jan­u­ary 2009).