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Thursday's papers: Katainen leaves politics, the race for AI, and cold Finns

Jyrki Katainen bows out of politics, Finland braces for the economic impact of AI, neighbourly love in the welfare state, and cheerleading gains respect.

Jyrki Katainen
EU Commission Vice-President and former Finnish PM Jyrki Katainen says goodbye to public life. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

EU Commission Vice-President and former Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen is leaving politics, reports national daily Helsingin Sanomat. The 46-year-old says he will not run for Commission presidency in conjunction with next year’s European elections Spitzenkandidaten. The father of two young daughters told the paper he was leaving high-stakes politics for family reasons, adding that he also plans to stay out of domestic politics in Finland.

Meanwhile his wife, Mervi Katainen, has said she will seek an MP seat for the National Coalition party in general elections next spring. Katainen’s departure is seen as paving the way for European Investment Bank VP Alexander Stubb, another NCP heavyweight and former Finnish PM, to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg as EU Commission president next year.

Finland braces for economic impact of AI

What will Finland look like in the next decade? Business magazine Talouselämä says Finland’s economy of the 2020s will grapple with major structural changes ushered in by artificial intelligence and automation. Finns’ share of the global population will decline as will the country's relative weight in the world economy. Economic growth outside the EU is growing more than twice as fast as Finland’s, the magazine explains.

Matti Apunen, director of the business think tank EVA, says Finland’s diminishing role on the world stage may render the country a service provider in tomorrow's ’server economy,’ in which Finland’s cool climate becomes one of its few draws. In this scenario, Finnish workers will become specialised in maintaining large-scale data storage centres.

Meanwhile global cities, such as Paris, will be the site for R&D work. Apunen says Finland may become a technology ’flyover’ country if it doesn’t build up more coding expertise. According to the magazine, megacities will become networked and their influence will compete with that of national governments.

No neighbourly love

An interview with sociologist Kaisa Kuurne in Helsingin Sanomat explores the theme of individualism in Finland through the lens of everyday relationships in other countries, such as in the United States.

Kuurne tells the paper that in Finland people have ’outsourced’ caring to the welfare state, whereas in the US, for example, people have looser boundaries for what constitutes family, giving society a more inclusive component.

Cheerleading gains respect

Cheerleading has gained more appreciation as a sport, writes Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet. Finland's national cheerleading squad won the ICU World Championships in Florida earlier this year.

This coming weekend Helsinki will host the European Cheerleading Championships at the Helsinki Ice Hall. Nearly 3,000 athletes and coaches are expected to arrive in the capital, as teams from 26 European countries compete in the event.

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