Last night, we finally kissed 2013 goodbye. It was a terrible year for Finland. Unfortunately, news that shaped Finland in 2013 included much of sadness and a little happiness. No matter what, we reported them.
It is time to look back on the news stories that made impact locally and nationally in Finland in 2013.
Finland’s national hero, Nokia, started from humble beginnings in 1865 as a riverside paper mill in rural south-western Finland, and grew to become a global brand then sold to an American company, Microsoft in 2013.
On 3 September, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Corporation and Nokia have decided to enter into a transaction whereby Microsoft will purchase substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, license Nokia’s patents, and license and use Nokia’s mapping services.
Finland experienced its worst economic downturn in its history since 1990s. From Helsinki students’ boycott demanding a change in the new reformed student financial aid to Finnish state’s help to recover Aker Arctic by purchasing a share of it, Finland had a tough economic year in 2013. According to the Minister of Finance and the chairman of SDP, Jutta Urpilainen, Finland is facing a severe triple challenge: a structural reform in the manufacturing industry, difficulties to recover the economy, as well as a challenging sustainability gap. She says, that the situation is worse than in the 1990s.
On 27 September, the ministry of employment and the economy warned stakeholders that upcoming couple years will be a struggle for the Finnish economy. The ministries’ prediction is based on its area survey results which has been conducted twice a year since 1991.
While there were tax increases in other areas such as corporate tax, soft drinks, real estate and so on, increase of alcohol tax received the highest attention from the public.
Finnish people consume a total of 440 ML of beer annually and the trend is increasing by 11.7 633 mL bottles year-on-year per capita. Alcohol imports have increased by 11,5 percent between September 2012 and August 2013, in comparison to the corresponding period in previous year.
On 29 November, in result of a discussion in Finnish Parliament, the board passed a bill to increase prices of alcoholic beverages in Finland. The amendment raises the prices of alcoholic beverages varied between 5.3 percent and 12.5 percent.
Economic downturn led many Finnish companies to reduce their labours. Finland’s national heroes Finnair, Metso, Outotec, STX, Fortum and hundreds of other companies led thousands of employees go in news. The Finnish unemployment rate saw a new record of 7.1% in 2013.
In dealing with personnel reductions, many labours went for a strike such as Finnair’s cabin crew or STX shipyard workers.
Just few days to Christmas, Finnish Government passed a new law to jeopardize many unemployed to lose their unemployment benefits which included more than 210,000 people in Finland.
Racism has been the top issue for Finland in 2013. Nordea Bank was fined €5,000 for discriminating against a French national; True Finns Party member suggested foreigners to have ID chips so that Finns would recognize who is whom; a Finnish magazine distributed variety of stories to attack Jewish community; there was even a guy in the Finnish parliament giving a Nazi salute to the camera and later on distributing it online.
One of the most interesting news in the category reported True Finns Party member’s disgust in having a meeting in a room where some people of Somali origin were there before.
2013 saw tragic increase in crime related news in Finland. Homicide continued to be the most common crime in Finland. In 2013, there were around 275,000 homicides in Finland which was one percent higher than 2012. Drug offenses also increased approximately by five percent.
Many crimes committed in 2013 involved teenagers; a 45-year-old man who stabbed his friend 19 times with bread knife in Heinola; a group of four brutalized a 15-year-old girl in Riihimäki, Finland and teen prostitution rose dramatically in 2013.
While nation’s most shameful event was seen on Finland’s Independence Day where protesters caused serious damage to the city; the most shocking news of 2013 was where three female students (15, 16 and 19 year olds) and a male caretaker (21 year old) were stabbed by a 16 year old male student in Oulu.
Finland and the EU had a rocky relationship in 2013. In many areas, the two had opposing ideas where it all started when the European Commission released a study concluding that Immigrants in Finland Continues to Suffer Discrimination.
Later on, the European Commission decided to refer Finland to the EU’s Court of Justice for requiring workers applying for unemployment benefits to have worked in Finland for at least four weeks (or four months of self-employment) as a condition to take into account periods of unemployment insurance paid in another EU country. According to the European Commission, this requirement discriminates against workers from other EU countries and is in breach of EU law to ensure free movement of workers.
Guggenheim Foundation’s proposal to create a new arts museum in Helsinki set the headlines many times. Ari Wiseman, Deputy Director of Guggenheim Foundation stated, “The museum will be a big opportunity to exchange ideas and to work along with Guggenheim New York. Many events happened in New York will be able to represented here in Finland. This includes, classical and archaeological exhibitions as well.”
Education has been one area that Finland had been proud of in terms of being successful at it. Unfortunately, just before 2013 ended, the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) released that Finland did not have the best education system in the world anymore. The golden days were over.
Finland, an education system that encourages free expression but extremely discourages differentiation, dropped from the top of the league and ranked 12th with a score of 519 barely passing Canada (518), Poland (518) and Belgium (515).