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Tuesday's papers: Lapland border, emergency EU funding, animal cruelty

Finland’s press looks at arguments for more fully opening the border with Sweden and Norway.

Kuvassa on Haaparannan ja Tornion välinen silta.
Municipalities and businesses in Finnish Lapland depend heavily on cross-border trade. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva
Yle News

Lapland daily Lapin Kansa reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that municipalities and entrepreneurs in Finnish Lapland are calling on the government to fully reopen the border with Sweden and Norway as the coronavirus situation in the area eases.

The paper writes that the sudden closure of borders paralysed cross-border trade, which is "one of the most important livelihoods" in many northern municipalities.

Lapland Entrepreneurs CEO Pirkka Salo told the paper that as much as two-thirds of a local municipality's tax revenue comes from cross-border trade.

"In other words, it is not just about entrepreneurs, but about jobs and the livelihood of the whole municipality. There are not many jobs other than in the trade sector," Salo said, adding that Finnish Lapland’s proximity to, and dependencies on, its Swedish and Norwegian neighbours make it different from the rest of Finland.

"Even if not all border traffic is opened in Finland, restrictions in the north, which is a natural area of employment and trade, should be relaxed on regional grounds," Salo added.

The lifting of current restrictions on cross-border traffic, which are due to remain in place until June 14, had been on the government’s agenda for discussion last week, but was postponed until Thursday of this week.

"The Swedish, Norwegian and Estonian border traffic situations will be discussed, at least," said Jeri Aalto, Special Advisor to Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

Rehn calls for EU unity

Helsingin Sanomat carries (siirryt toiseen palveluun) an extensive interview with current Governor of the Bank of Finland Olli Rehn, and writes that the former EU commissioner’s view is clear on what needs to be done to repair the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic: member states of the EU must work together .

"The key lesson of the euro crisis is that joint action can prevent the economic crisis and high unemployment from escalating if we act quickly and wisely," Rehn told HS. "On the other hand, delaying and relying solely on national solutions will exacerbate the crisis, exacerbate the wave of corporate bankruptcies and risk a long-term recession."

HS writes that Rehn supports the EU’s 750-billion-euro emergency funding proposal, of which 500 billion euro would be provided to member states in the form of grants and 250 billion euro in loans.

Finland has previously rejected the idea of joint EU debt to tackle the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

"The proposal will enable a more balanced recovery throughout Europe, which is also in the interests of export-dependent Finland," Rehn told HS.

Animal cruelty "on the rise"

Tabloid Iltalehti reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on a disturbing increase in animal welfare reports in the western coastal city of Vaasa, and writes that "animal cruelty is on the rise" in Finland.

"It's going to get worse," Maija Raatikainen, chair of the Vaasa Regional Animal Welfare Association tells IL, and cites a number of recent examples, including a video which appeared on the video-sharing social network TikTok showing a cat being pushed into a microwave and then a freezer.

Raatikainen added that while some acts of animal cruelty are committed by children on their own, other incidents have reportedly involved adults, who may have even encouraged the child to abuse an animal.

In order to prevent cruelty to animals, Raatikainen told IL that it is essential adults monitor the activities of children and young people, and that even the smallest incidents of animal cruelty are reported to authorities.

"It is easier to deal with cases when they are reported as soon as they are noticed," Raatikainen said. "The police must also sometimes be reminded that they too are an animal welfare authority whose duties include animal welfare. This may not be remembered by every police officer."

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