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Monday's papers: Government talks into sixth day, Finnair merger, Nokia fires

The papers look at what the sticking points are as government budget talks enter their second week.

Sanna Marin keskusteluu Maria Ohisalon kanssa.
The governing parties are due to reconvene for budget negotiations on Monday. Image: Jussi Toivanen / Valtioneuvoston kanslia
Yle News

After talks on Sunday failed to end in agreement, the government's budget negotiations look set to enter a fifth day.

"It’s a good thing to be at the negotiating table and be able to take on the issue together," Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) said upon leaving the House of Estates on Sunday night, writes national daily Helsingin Sanomat.

According to HS, a major sticking point is the government budget for 2023. The Centre Party is demanding hundreds of millions of euros in budget cuts to the proposed financial framework, HS writes, putting the party in conflict with its left wing coalition partners.

Proposals to reduce unemployment and phase out the use of peat for energy are other areas where the parties are struggling to find common ground, HS reports.

Monday's Ilta-Sanomat doesn't mince its words in coverage of the unfolding crisis.

"The Centre Party doesn't know what it wants to be," think tank researcher Mikko Majander told the tabloid.

According to Majander, a crisis of identity in the second-largest governing party is part of what's behind the current deadlock.

"The Centre does not really know if it is on the right or left wing. During the last government, the Centre Party gave us the prime minister of a right-wing government. It ended in a lousy election result."

Pressure from the opposition is one possible explanation for the party's current position, the paper writes.

The Finns Party, which has topped recent polls, has been making inroads into the Centre Party's rural strongholds, piling pressure on a party already reeling from multiple changes of leadership in the space of just a few years, Ilta-Sanomat argues.

According to Helsingin Sanomat, the Centre Party's parliamentary group is due to meet on Monday to thrash out a position.

"We will work out a position together," said party leader and Science and Culture Minister Annika Saarikko (Cen).

Government negotiations are due to restart at 12:30 on Monday.

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Ex-CEO floated Finnair merger

With the travel industry bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic's economic impact, business daily Kauppalehti wonders whether change could be coming to national airline Finnair.

The paper bases its comments on reported attempts by former Finnair CEO Pekka Vauramo to explore the possibility of merging the carrier with another European airline.

According to Kauppalehti, Vauramo studied the option of combining with Nordic competitor Scandinavian Airlines, as well as mergers with British Airways owner IAG and German flag carrier Lufthansa.

In the end, security of supply concerns meant any merger of the majority state-owned airline was put on hold. In part, the decision was backed by government confidence in the airline's Asia-focused business model pre-pandemic, Kauppalehti writes.

"The pressures of the pandemic would seem to speed consolidation in the industry," the paper writes. "However, that must wait."

As the pandemic has cut travel, many airlines in Europe have received government-backed loans in order to survive. That means that mergers could be off the table.

"All of Finnair's major merger partners have received state aid, a condition of which is that the EU Commission requires them to refrain from acquisitions and management bonuses for three years," Kauppalehti explains.

Nokia fires started deliberately

Three fires in the Pirkanmaa municipality of Nokia over the weekend are thought to have been started deliberately, reports Tampere-based Aamulehti.

A fire at a former nursery school in Nokia's Koskenmäki neighbourhood required ten units of firefighters to put out, the paper writes.

"We're talking about a massive fire. The fire was special in that it had ignited in at least two or three points. The cause of the ignition is unknown, but the strong suspicion is that it was intentional," firefighter Jarkko Pietiläinen told Aamulehti.

At almost the same time, local firefighters were also called to a blaze in two storage containers at a school in Harjuniitty.

The fires on Sunday evening followed a third fire started earlier that day at a former factory site on Lintumientie, Aamulehti writes.

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