Finns celebrate Independence Day today 6.12.2021 with great sincerity and seriousness because the country remained independent from two countries that in the past treated it as a colony – Sweden and Russia.
Well over a century has passed, with a number of bad wars in between and Finland still remains a strong and independent small nation that has one of the highest standards of living in the world, in a secure and clean environment.
Relationships with both neighbours are as good as it gets.
Relationships with Sweden are extremely strong because we both share common values, business is deeply developed and actively pursued. Ordinary folk, students, businessmen and politicians on both sides cross the boundaries. It is easy because most Finns speak and understand Swedish.
On the other hand Finns understand the Russian spirit of ordinary Russians for whom most Finns have great respect. Even though Russian politics and their leaders challenge our understanding of what is acceptable, trade flows in both directions and a courteous dialogue is actively maintained at the highest levels.
Finland’s relationship with the EU is interesting. The EU is seen as a central feature of business and culture. Most of the EU’s laws and regulations are accepted and followed scrupulously by governments here. Criticism is often made domestically that Finnish politicians want to be seen as being “best in the class” when on occasions it is felt by many voters that Finland’s interests would be better served by being more demanding, à la France, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands.
However, Finland, along with Sweden, has openly rejected part of the EU’s Taxonomy that deals with biomass. Finland intends to vote against the EU’s draft “Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act”, saying the proposed classification of biomass under the EU’s green finance rules goes against the country’s national interest. Forestry activities account for a massive part of the economy, and Finland does not want the EU to interfere in forest management policies, especially when many countries in the EU have allowed their forests to be reduced by mismanagement. It is unlikely that this action will result in the legislation being struck down because a larger number of other nations must vote against it, and that is unlikely. However, this is one of those rare occasions when Finland has put its foot down.
Many eminent scientists in Finland support the EU’s Taxonomy and disagree with what appears to be a political decision pushed forward rather aggressively by the Centre Party and supported by the three big forestry companies – UPM, Metsä and Stora Enso. The scientists have long claimed that the forestry sector is cutting too many trees too quickly to produce low-value pulp and packaging. In their opinion, forests should be allowed to grow and develop greater bio-diversity rather than be “farmed” for the benefit of the big three. The same scientists demand that wood should be used in a more sustainable manner for construction and its use limited to higher value-added products.