Archive for May, 2009

It is not only a generation gap, but a gap in the Internet use

May 26, 2009

The Europeans are fond of the Internet. One study showed that the most active Internet users were about 30-year-old women and men who come “outside middle class income”. What can the last characteristics mean? Maybe they are rich or poor, but they surely hang on the net constantly. That is not anymore a generation gap but a different life-style. Microsoft (who else) predicts that the use of the Internet is overthrowing tv watching in Europe in the coming year. (more…)


Eastern neighbour talks big

May 26, 2009

080507-Medvedev-hmed-145a.hmediumEU and Russia had a summit in Khabarovsk, Russia last week. The summit became a fiasko. First of all, it took place in Khabarovsk, a city which no one knows, somewhere near the border of China and Russia, in Siberia. You rememeber, the same place where Stalin used to send people. THAT PLACE. The president of Russia, Dmitri Medvedev argued that they chose this particular place in order to show the europeans how enormous great Russia is.

Well, they really saw it. The flight took over 12 hours from Brussels. Talk about a climate policy, too.

Secondly, it looks like Medvedev asked the europeans to pay a visit only for that he could tell how much they have power over the EU. The leverage of that power is called natural gas. That leverage was in use in January, when Russia stopped delivering gas to Europe because Ukraine had problems with paying their bills. And just about all of the natural gas comes to Europe via Ukraine.

Now Medvedev wanted to remind that they could do it again. How nice that you gathered a summit meeting to tell just that, Dmitri! It was nice to be as your guest!

In addition Medvedev told that the EU should give some money to Ukraine to ensure that EU gets its gas. Thank you for the advise, Dmitri.

I am disappointed. I was so happy when Medvedev became a president after the autocratic Vladimir Putin. Medvedev promised to fight against corruption in Russia and to contribute to democracy. But now it looks rather bad: Medvedev is starting to remind us about the good old days of the cold war: ”we got the power and you don’t”-play. Because the old playmate USA has strengthen too much turns Russia to European Union. I hope both stop before it hurts.

Reetta Nurmo

Surviving combat in the world market

May 26, 2009

The Finland’s former minister of finance Iiro Viinanen has come to a conclusion, that after Nokia the next big thing for Finland will be tourism. When I heard this I almost laughed as would Silvio Berlusconi, the Friend of Finland. Who wants to come to Finland? If you want to shop why would you choose Helsinki if you could go to Paris? If you want to experience nature why would you choose Lapland instead of the Rocky Mountains? If you want to ski, go straight to the Alps, not Finnish Lapland!

Ok, Viinanen’s idea probably isn’t exactly the best option. But the question remains: what is the next big thing to our economy in Finland? And what’s the next big thing to the European Union? How will we survive in the worldwide trade in the future?

The question is difficult because our rivals are very good. The USA is the richest country in the world and the whole society based on working. In Europe we enjoy culture and the company of our friends; in the US they work around the clock six days a week.

When we look to the other direction to the East things seem even worse for us. The employee costs are far way lower than in Europe and even European companies are moving their factories to Asia. Resources are nearby and gradually they will also have the technical know-how. Take a look at India!

What do we have that they don’t? History? China has a colourful and long history too! Experience in the art of war? That’s not it.. Long life? Which in other words means just that we have an aging population and huge pension costs. Looks bad.

Actually our real strenght always comes to light during bad times. We have each other. We won’t stop buying and selling between European countries. We have even a common currency, the euro and open borders. Trading goods is easy and neat. At the same time the US is struggling and Russia sinks fast as the oligarks are depositing their fortune abroad and the oil price is down to 50–60 dollars per barrel.

Reetta Nurmo

How much do you pay for the EU membership?

May 26, 2009
The EU membership has been quite profitable for Finland. (Stock Photo)

The EU membership has been quite profitable for Finland. (Stock Photo)

Sometimes you can hear people complain that the Finns have paid too much money to EU and are getting nothing back.

However, in a new research made by a major Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat it is revealed that Finland has not paid much compared to other EU countries.

Since it is accession to the European Union, Finland has paid only 750 million Euro to the EU. This sum has been calculated simply by reducing paid charges from all given economical aid.

Comparison on how much each EU member gives money (blue balloons) and how much they received money (red balloons) in 2007.

Comparison on how much each EU member gives money (blue balloons) or how much they received money (red balloons) in 2007.

This means that Finland is among those EU countries which haven’t paid considerable charges to other members. For example, Italy, Holland, France and the United Kingdom each contributed 2–4 billion Euro – just in 2007.

In the same year, Finland’s effort was only 0.1 percent of its whole gross domestic product. That’s only 1.8 billion Euros – which is about 33 Euros per each Finn.

So which country has been the biggest payer? The highly industrialized Germany gave almost 7.5 billion to EU in 2007. One must still keep in mind that there are over 80 million inhabitants in Germany as opposed to 5.3 million in Finland.

These numbers are still only rough statistics on the entire membership payments since no official estimates have been published. They still give some kind of impression on how much the costs of the EU membership.

But is 33 Euros that much to pay for open borders, common currency and high endurance against the global recession? That’s for you to decide.

Juho-Pekka Pekonen

EU: The nuclear test of North Korea is “threat to international peace”

May 26, 2009
North Korea has been making nuclear tests in despite of using the nuclear power in a more peaceful manner. (Stock Photo)

North Korea has been making nuclear tests in despite of using the nuclear power in a more peaceful manner. (Stock Photo)

The European Union is protesting the test of a nuclear explosive device carried out by North Korea on 25 May 2009. In a declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the EU it is stated that the nuclear test “has represented a threat to international peace and security”.

This wasn’t the first time North Korea has caused inconvenience and raised concerns in the world. The feisty East Asian country withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003. Since then there has been a number of negotiations in order to get some kind of solutions to this problem.

North Korea already conducted its first nuclear test already almost three years ago, but this time the bomb was relatively bigger than the first one.

According to the Russian Defense Department, the nuclear explosion was equivalent to 10-20 kilotons. That means it is comparable to the size of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the 2nd World War.

The EU Commission spokesman Amadeo Altafaj declared that the European Union considers the nuclear tests of North Korea as a provocation. He explained the situation on a video by an independent news channel EUX.TV:

The Secretary-General of the Council of the EU Javier Solana stated that the European Union will be in contact with its partners to discuss appropriate measures on how to deal with the situation.

Juho-Pekka Pekonen

You do not meet MEPs on the net

May 26, 2009

Only half of the members of the EU Parliament would read this or any blog this week and two thirds of them do not know Twitter. They are used to the more traditional ways of socializing. The proper way to connect with them is voting, perhaps?

Text: Anne Kosonen

Blood donators are inactive in the summertime

May 26, 2009

The Red Cross in Finland announced last week that there is a serious lack of blood in Finland. The blood service hopes that blood donors would be active in the near future, even in the summertime when the lack of blood is usual. This brought up the old argument if homosexual men are allowed to donate blood or not.

The blood service explains that there are a lot more risks of having an HIV infection among the homosexual men, compared to the heterosexual. This is an international practice and also EU has rules about blood safety. The Blood Directive sets EU-wide quality and safety standards for the collection, testing, processing, storage and distribution of human blood. The EU wants to ensure the same kind of possibilities and rights concerning blood transfusion in the member countries.

The restrictions of donating blood are being checked out every year both nationally and in the EU-level. Generally the restrictions have been reduced lately, mainly among medication policies. The homosexual men are still banned from donating blood. The authorities say that the risk of HIV infection is 20 times higher for gay men than heterosexuals. Many associations that stand up for gay rights think that the policy is discriminative.

The 14th of June is the World Blood Donor Day, this year hosted by Australia.

Miia Koskelainen

EU is checking its youth policy

May 26, 2009

The European Commission has published the first EU Youth Report in April. The report gives us interesting information and statistics about the situation of the young citizens, aged 15-29. That is almost 20 % of the whole population.

Now, when the European Elections are just around the corner, an interesting point is that less than 40 % of young people have trust in politicians and political parties. In Finland it can be seen in a research that tells that every other citizen has difficulties in choosing the right candidate who to vote. And especially difficult it is for young voters. I believe that one of the reasons actually is that young people now too little about the EU. In the last elections, the voting percent was only 40.

Another interesting figure is the unemployment figure, which has gone up since the economical situation is bad. In the EU more than one third of youngsters aged between 15 and 24 are not in education, employment or training. Around 2 million young people have mental problems. The chairman of the Finnish Central Association for Mental Health, Pekka Sauri, spoke in Pori, Finland, this weekend and his concern was unemployment especially among young people. There are half as much young people without a job in Finland now than a year ago. Sauri believes that this may be a serious threat for young people’s mental health.
It’s good that the European Commission has adopted a new EU strategy for youth policy for the next decade.

The goals of the Youth – Investing and Empowering strategy are
– to create more opportunities in education and employment
– to improve access and full participation of young people in society
– to foster solidarity between youth and society.

The EU Youth Report will be published every three years in the future.

Miia Koskelainen