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Tuesday's papers: EU funding disparity, NCP congress, Putin preparations and Bond bikes

Finland's press covers regional differences in employment subsidies, party meetings, market closures and superbikes.

Polkupyöräilijä pyörätiellä.
New Bond bikes (mopeds, really) will not be allowed on Helsinki's bike paths. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

The Oulu-based paper Kaleva carries a story on unequal distribution of EU unemployment subsidies in Finland.

Analysis by the Uutissuomalainen news service found that in the current 2014-2020 funding period, jobless residents in the east and north of Finland received five times more EU structural fund programme money (9,688 euros per capita) than people without work in the west and south (1,875 euros per capita). The paper points out that Finland's east and north receive 70 percent of the total 1.3 billion euros in European Union funding, despite being home to only one-quarter of the population.

Kaleva writes that municipal leaders in areas receiving less funding are lobbying for a change in the subsidy's distribution criteria.

"The criteria should in future not just be based on population, but also things like GDP, climate change and migration. Things like unemployment, youth unemployment, low education levels and social exclusion should also be factored in," Jaakko Mikkola, municipal director of Kymenlaakso, tells the paper. The municipality of Kymenlaakso has one of Finland's highest unemployment rates, at 9.1 percent.

NCP meets to plan opposition strategy

Lahti-based Etelä-Suomen Sanomat reports on the party leadership congress of Finland's conservative National Coalition Party, being held today and tomorrow in the southwest city of Turku.

Currently the second-largest party in Finland, the NCP meeting will begin this morning with an address by party chair Petteri Orpo. He has said he is willing to continue in his leadership role, and a delegate vote today will see if he receives a mandate to continue. ESS writes that a poll in late August in the paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus found that only 17 percent of respondents would vote for Orpo, while party members Elina Lepomäki and Antti Häkkänen both attracted 19 percent support. Neither Lepomäki nor Häkkänen has come forward to challenge Orpo for the position, however.

The NCP was relegated to the opposition after Finland's elections in April, after government negotiations with Social Democrat Prime Minister Antti Rinne were unable to find enough common ground. ESS reports that this is the first government term in twelve years where the NCP has not been a part of the ruling coalition.

Putin's visit to shut down Helsinki market

The tabloid Iltalehti talks about Russian President Vladimir Putin's upcoming working visit to Finland on Wednesday. Putin will meet with Finland's President Sauli Niinistö for official discussions in the Presidential Palace, where they plan to cover several bilateral and international issues. After a joint press conference, the visit will conclude with a dinner at the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.

This last item on the agenda will force the Market Square, a tourist mecca in the heart of the capital city, to close for the day. IL asked some of the stand owners how they felt about the market closure. Some were disappointed not to be able to sell their souvenirs, fresh fruit or fish during the height of the tourist season, but others were glad to have the luxury of a day off.

Traffic in and around the Market Square will be redirected starting at noon tomorrow, and maritime activity in the harbour will also be limited. No private boats will be allowed in the area, and tourist boats to the zoo and the fortress, for example, will be re-routed to depart from piers in Hakaniemi and Katajanokka.

Superbikes hit capital streets

And finally, the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat has a feature story on a new brand of "jet-propulsion" city bikes capable of speeds of up to 45 kilometres per hour that are coming to the capital city.

The Swiss company Bond Mobility will soon roll out a fleet of 100 bicycles that will have a range of up to 100 kilometres. Like with the controversial electric scooters, users simply need to download an application to use the shared battery-powered "Bond" bikes. In the same way, they can also leave them anywhere when they are done using them. The app warns its customers to use the fast-moving bikes with caution and use a helmet.

Traffic safety police superintendent Konsta Arvelin has responded to the new bike sharing scheme with apprehension about the danger they present, and with an important clarification: The fast electric bikes are categorised as mopeds, not bicycles. They might look like a bike, but closer inspection will reveal that they have small license plates, as they are registered in Finland as mopeds.

"The same traffic laws apply to them as apply to mopeds: the same blood alcohol content limitations and the same legal requirement to wear a helmet. They are banned from pavements and footpaths," he said.

Arvelin adds that Finnish traffic laws also prohibit mopeds from using regular bike paths, with the exception of certain paths that have a special mention that mopeds are allowed. He says the only place the Bond bikes can be used is in the city is in traffic, on the right side of the road.

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