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Tuesday's papers: Cracking down on easy credit, tunnel progress, and Macron's coffee

Finland's press examines justice ministry plans to tighten consumer loan regulations, Keilaniemi roadworks, record temps in the north, and memes about bad java.

Emmanuel Macron ja Sauli Niinistö torikahveilla Kauppatorilla.
The presidential coffee break that caused a stir. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Tampere-based daily Aamulehti reports on Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen's plans for a study into Finland's consumer loan market, with an eye to tighten regulations and "support a healthier credit market". Among other things, the minister says he hopes to stop aggressive advertising of easily-available loans and limit interest rates – with the aim of overcoming Finland's increasingly prevalent problem of over-indebtedness.

The minister announced the study yesterday in Helsinki, and says he hopes to submit a proposal to the Parliament already in October that would introduce stricter interest rate regulation, applying to consumer loans that exceed 2,000 euros as well.

AL reports that the ministry will map out marketing practices in Finland's consumer credit market and identify any problems that exist. Different regulatory options to make the advertising of loans safer for the consumer will also be considered.

Putting cars underground in Espoo

The local newspaper Helsingin Uutiset has an article today on the progress of a major road-building project in the capital region city of Espoo. It says that a 440-metre cement tunnel in the Keilaniemi district of the city has now been cast, making the finished product the longest continuous road tunnel in Finnish history.

The Keilaniemi tunnel has two separate 15-metre wide openings for three lanes of traffic. In between the two throughways is a third 3.6-metre maintenance tunnel. The city of Espoo's construction manager Hannu Lehtikankare says that tunnels are usually bored into the plentiful bedrock in Finland, instead of casting them from cement, as it is cheaper. The website of the main contractor SVR Infra notes that 305,000 cubic metres of rock was excavated for the Keilaniemi project.

Once it is taken into use in the spring of 2019, the tunnel will move the tens of thousands of cars that use the western part of the Ring I road underground, and plans to build a "green deck" park over the area that was once a busy intersection will follow. Ring I is a state road, but the city of Espoo has taken the responsibility for building and paying for the 100 million euro facelift to the important exchange.

Did he think the coffee was bad or not?

The country's most widely-distributed paper Helsingin Sanomat has a story on French President Emmanuel Macron's response to the kerfuffle over a coffee break he enjoyed with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in Helsinki's Market Square during his recent visit to Finland.

A video of the two statesmen strolling in the market and then stopping for a cup of coffee in a stall proved very popular in the aftermath of the historic visit, but it took on a new dimension when several people posted memes of the visit using stills from the footage that seem to imply that the French President did not like the taste of the Finnish coffee he had been offered. The popular web service Very Finnish Problems, for example, posted a meme on August 31 with the text: "The face you pull when you try Finnish coffee for the first time."

Retired Finnish journalist Helena Petäistö, who covered France as a foreign correspondent for most of her career, also sent out a tweet after the presidential visit, criticizing the sub-par coffee Macron was offered at the stall. Finnish conductor Atso Almila replied that she didn't understand the point of the down-to-earth coffee break, adding that Finnish market coffee is in his experience quite good and often freshly brewed. President Sauli Niinistö even entered the fray, writing that "Sometimes a guest wants to know what is happening in the market. Is it an everyday event? Do people go there for coffee? If we decide to go there amongst the people, then we do as everyone else would," the president said.

HS reports that Macron's office in the Elysée Palace commented on the stir with an email: "Sharing spontaneous moments and mingling with people is very important to the French President, who seeks to understand the everyday life of European people. For this reason, it was very pleasant for him to engage in a coffee break with President Sauli Niinistö, and walk around the market a bit to get a sense of the Finnish day-to-day reality."

Utsjoki leads the pack

And the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat finishes today's review with news that yet another heat record was broken in Finland – this time in Finland's northernmost municipality of Utsjoki, where a temperature of 23.6 degrees Celsius was recorded on Monday.

What makes the September record even more extraordinary is the revelation from the Finnish Meteorological Society that Utsjoki enjoyed the highest temp recorded in the country yesterday, with the southwest city of Turku coming in close behind with 23.4 degrees.

Unfortunately IS says that Utsjoki is in for a radical change this week, as already today temperatures will fall to under 15 degrees as a cold front sets in. The rest of the country will continue to enjoy the season's abnormally warm conditions, however.

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