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Thursday’s papers: Brexit effects, Nobel prize winner speaks out on Sote, and Tampere tests social welfare and health care reform

Two main stories feature in much of Thursday morning's printed press: Speculation on the effects of Brexit on the EU and Finland, and the government's social welfare and health care reform, which is being trailed in the city of Tampere.

Sanomalehtiä, kännykkä.
Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Finland’s main daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat leads with an in-depth look at Britain’s departure from the EU, which started on Wednesday when Britain officially triggered Article 50. Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May said, “This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back."

Helsingin Sanomat (HS) reports that May was speaking in the House of Commons in London, after Britain's EU ambassador formally triggered the two year exit process by handing a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk.

Britain, which joined the EU in 1973, is to be out of the union by 2019. It is the first country to leave the EU.

Brexit effects?

HS’s sister tabloid Ilta-Sanomat goes a step further with a story on the seven potential effects of Brexit on Finland.

According to Ilta-Sanomat, uncertainty caused by Brexit that may slow down economic growth throughout Europe. On the other hand, EU member countries may work more closely with one another: “It may work as a wakeup call for the EU in that (further) integration demands more support from citizens in order to make sensible and relevant political decisions. The Brexit vote in Britain clearly illustrated that a significant majority of people felt that the EU was not for them,” says EU researcher and professor Tapio Raunio, in an interview with the tabloid. Raunio nevertheless tells Ilta-Sanomat that he does not think Britain’s departure will have huge effects on the European Union or on Finland.

Ilta-Sanomat lists other potential Brexit effects, which include changes to Britain’s banking sector that may impact on Finnish companies; new trade agreements between the EU and Britain; and potential difficulties for foreign students and EU citizens living in Britain.

The unfolding Sote saga

Another story that gets play in the morning’s printed press is Nobel-prize winning economist Bengt Holmström's visit to Finland. The Swedish-speaking Finn, a professor at one of America's top private universities MIT, was honoured for his co-win of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics in a ceremony at the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki.

HS reports that while Holmström commended the government on the Sote health and social care reform, he also had some advice. “Sote is a good start. It’s great that we’re moving forward with courage,” said Holmström in his address to parliament on Wednesday. But he went on to warn Finnish MPs that the health and social care reform would still need a lots of work, and that it would have been a good idea to trial the new Sote on a municipal level before putting it into effect.

Pensioners not jumping on Sote bandwagon

Tampere’s Aamulehti also focuses on Sote, with a look at how a pilot of the health and social care reform is panning out in the Tampere region. At the start of March 22,700 Tampere residents were given the option to decide whether they wanted to use public or private health care services, with the price remaining the same for either public or private sector services.

As of Wednesday, Aamulehti reports that 733 residents in the pilot had decided to change their health care service provider. According to Eeva Mäkinen, who heads the freedom to choose pilot project in Tampere, those of working age were much quicker to change health care centres and service providers than pensioners.

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