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Friday's papers: Finland's electric cars, legalising cannabis, travel makes a comeback

Car manufacturers attempt to go green while holidaymakers jet off abroad in pre-pandemic numbers.

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Green politician Atte Harjanne backs legalising cannabis, and would decriminalise other drugs as well. Image: Esa Syväkuru / Yle

Friday's Helsingin Sanomat reports on the change coming to the automotive industry as the European Union looks to outlaw new petrol and diesel cars.

One winner in this is Valmet Automotive, HS writes, which operates a factory in Uusikaupunki building cars on a contract basis for other manufacturers.

"We have been told between the lines by companies that the pace of change is now accelerating furiously. They are bringing forward the strategy for electrification much more than was thought even a year ago," head of Valmet Automotive's battery business Jyrki Nurmi told the paper.

On Tuesday the company announced its Uusikaupunki base would expand to include a facility for producing high voltage batteries for electric vehicles.

The move comes after Valmet reached an agreement with Dutch startup Lightyear this summer, HS writes.

The contract between the two companies will see Valmet Automotive build around 1,000 examples of Lightyear's luxury, solar-powered electric car, the Lightyear One.

The battery-electric car won't be for everyone. Each vehicle will set customers back around €150,000, HS says.

Decriminalisation of cannabis 'not enough'

The Green Party's new deputy chair Atte Harjanne has told Joensuu-based Karjalainen that he would be in favour of decriminalising all drugs, following a knife-edge vote by his party backing the legalisation of cannabis in Finland.

Harjanne told the paper's parent agency Uutissuomalainen that he believes a large number of Finland's MPs are in favour of drug decriminalisation, but are afraid to back it publicly.

"It now seems that MPs are more cautious and conservative on this issue than the Finnish people," Harjanne said, referring to a July poll by Helsingin Sanomat in which 42 percent of respondents said they would decriminalise cannabis use.

According to newspaper Karjalainen, Harjanne believes that decriminalising all drugs would be in line with health guidance from the World Health Organisation and Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

In the case of cannabis, Finland's most-used illicit substance, the Helsinki MP believes just decriminalising the drug would not go far enough.

"I have changed my mind. I used to think that decriminalisation would be enough, but I don't think it is," he said.

Holidays selling out

Summer may be over but Finland's appetite for travel continues to grow, according to a report in online business publication Taloussanomat.

The paper spoke to experts from some of Finland's largest tour operators and found that more people are planning to travel abroad as the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic ease.

"In the last few weeks, demand has increased to the level of 2019. Little by little, things are starting to look like they did before the pandemic," Finnair and Aurinkomatkat spokesperson Mari Kanerva told Taloussanomat.

Figures from Statistics Finland show the impact Covid-19 had on international travel. In 2019, the country's residents made 8.1 million leisure trips abroad. That number fell to just over two million last year, Taloussanomat writes.

Laura Aaltonen, communications manager for package tour company TUI told the paper demand for the months ahead was strong.

"For some periods, such as the autumn and Christmas holidays, trips are already pretty much sold out," she said.

Of course, the pandemic's influence hasn't waned completely. Taloussanomat reminds readers that popular destinations like Spain and Greece currently require travellers from Finland to show proof of Covid vaccinations or recovery from the virus, as well as providing contact tracing information before entering the country.

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