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Thursday's papers: TTIP delay, Metro mess, goodbye to cash, and grinning with Emma

Among the items in Thursday papers are a "delayed" but not "dead" evaluation of US-EU free trade talks, more on the continuing saga of Helsinki's western Metro extension, predictions of the demise of cash, and a photo-op for President Niinistö with Emma Watson.

Daily newspapers.
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

Turun Sanomat, the leading daily in the southwestern coastal city of Turku, carries a Lännen Media report in which Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen says he expects the American presidential election to delay negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). However, he also expects them to take off again early next year.

The TTIP will be on the agenda at an unofficial meeting of EU trade ministers in Bratislava later today.

"The process is not dead. It will be challenging to achieve a good result and even more challenging to reach the finish line before the US presidential elections. That will hardly happen," Mykkänen told Lännen Media.

Recently, German Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the TTIP talks have failed and French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl announced that France will demand the negotiations be suspended. France is expected to make that call in Thursday's meeting. Finland's Foreign Trade Minister does not, however, believe that the talks will collapse.

According to Mykkänen, a member of Finland's conservative National Coalition Party, remarks by his German and French colleagues say more about domestic politics in those countries than about the current situation concerning discussions on the partnership agreement. His evaluation is that Europe's Social Democratic parties are under pressure to respond to the appeal of populist parties.

Metro mess

The nation's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, devotes a two-page spread to the continuing delays in bringing the western extension of Helsinki's Metro rail system into operation.

The line was scheduled to come into use this year, but the firm overseeing the project, Länsimetro Oy, now says that it might not happen until January of 2017. The timetable is supposed to firm up next month.

Helsingin Sanomat points out, though, that even once the line is in use, commuters will be faced with stations surrounded by construction sites for years to come.

The stations themselves are all but complete and the project is moving into the testing phase. Metro traffic and station operations are designed to be run by 52 different automation systems. Each of these is being tested separately, and then will be tested running all together.

Once testing has been completed, a timetable for should be available. Länsimetro Oy said in June that it hopes to be able to set a date for the start-up by the end of October.

The company's CEO Matti Kokkinen told Helsingin Sanomat that is still all that can be said about the subject right now.

Cards and cash soon obsolete

Looking at a new trend assessment from the Bank of Finland, the economic and business daily Kauppalehti reports that both cash and debit cards will soon end up on the rubbish heap of history, replaced by mobile phones and new types of electronic payment systems.

Interviewed by Kauppalehti, the country manager for the Visa Corporation, Vesa Tukonen, pointed out that the use of cash is diminishing faster in the Nordic region than anywhere else in the world.

A Bank of Finland survey last January found that only 13% of consumers in Finland use cash as their primary method of payment. Meanwhile, banks have reduced and limited cash services. The number of bank branch offices offering cash services in Finland has fallen from nearly 1,500 in 2005 to only around 850 today. Also, last year 117 cash automats were taken out of service.

With continuing technical development, it is also being forecast that debit-credit cards as we presently know them will also fall out of favour with consumers and the retail sector.

Grinning with Emma

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö Wednesday addressed the United Nations General Assembly on a range of pressing issues: racism and violent extremism, international conflicts and the global surge in refugee in need of aid.

But, he also had a time-out for a photo-op with actress Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame, who is the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador.

Today's Iltalehti published a screen capture from the Facebook feed of the Embassy of Finland in Washington, and the comment, "What a sweet smile".

And, so it is.

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