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Finland Country Report

Country Risk Level

Low

Overview

Executive Summary

The five-party coalition led by the centre-left Social Democratic Party will probably table environmentally oriented policies in the two-year outlook, but a comprehensive overhaul of the taxation and regulatory regime, including general tax cuts, is unlikely. Rearrangements within the coalition and ministerial resignations are likely. The government has announced a EUR15-billion stimulus package and an additional EUR5.5 billion in budget expenditures to assist the economy in managing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus crisis. As a result, the budget deficit, currently below 1% of GDP, will significantly widen. The government’s debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to increase back above 60% of GDP. Structural challenges, such as unfavourable demographics, will present further fiscal challenges in the next three to five years. After easing (from 7.4% in 2018 to 6.7% in 2019), the unemployment rate is rising again, having averaged 8.9% in the second quarter, as the economy has entered a recession. IHS Markit expects a GDP contraction of 7.2% in 2020, as exports and domestic demand will be hit by the virus crisis. Investment growth was already moderating before the crisis as the construction boom is slowing. Industrial productivity remains structurally uncompetitive.The risk of industrial action and peaceful protests will probably decrease from high to elevated owing to the impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak and following the conclusion of collective wage negotiations in the first quarter of 2020. Centralised wage negotiations will likely remain a key feature of the Finnish consensus-seeking labour-market policy model.Finland is unlikely to join NATO in the two-year outlook. Any moves towards NATO membership would be subject to a referendum and conducted jointly with Sweden. Closer military co-operation with Sweden and NATO will probably continue, increasing the risk of Finnish involvement in the unlikely event of a direct Russia-NATO confrontation. Airspace and naval border incursions by Russian military aircraft are likely to persist.

Operational Outlook

Strike action in Gambia remains rare, with little sign that unions have stepped up activity after the repression of the Yahya Jammeh dictatorship, when any form of organised protest was usually met with brutal treatment. The private sector is relatively small, in any case, and most labour unrest is likely to continue to be characterised by short-lived stoppages carried out by public-sector professionals such as doctors, lecturers, and teachers. Corruption levels have fallen significantly from the kleptocratic Jammeh era, although influence peddling and demands for facilitation payments from senior office holders are starting to reappear. At lower levels, though, there is little evidence of an ingrained culture of graft.

Terrorism

Low-capability jihadist terrorist attacks with knives are moderately likely as are shooting or vehicle attacks, as indicated by the August 2017 knife assault in central Turku conducted by a Moroccan citizen. According to the Finnish Security Intelligence Service, there is a homegrown radical Islamists network in Finland and approximately 370 people are potentially connected to terrorist activities, whereas the country features more prominently in radical Islamist propaganda. Coincidentally, the likelihood of far-right extremist attacks targeting government or religious assets and refugee shelters has therefore increased. Animal-rights activists are likely to use aggressive tactics against fur businesses or animal-processing industries.

Crime

Crime rates in Finland are low compared to other European countries. Organised, financial, violent, or petty crime is unlikely to have a substantial impact on business operations. Around 90 organised crime groups are active, primarily motorcycle gangs and international groups engaged in drug trafficking. Gang violence is usually limited to feuds and does not typically affect the public. In the past, there were reports on the involvement of Russian gangs in setting up protection rackets. However, such activities are unlikely to spread beyond the Russian business community.

War Risks

The fallout between the EU and Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine has led to closer military co-operation with Sweden and NATO, increasing the probability of Finnish involvement in the unlikely event of a direct Russia-NATO confrontation. Airspace and naval border incursions by Russian military aircraft are likely to continue. Finland is likely to abide by its plans to increase its defence spending over the next several years. The government plans to spend up to EUR10 billion on new fighter jets. Any moves towards NATO membership will likely be subject to a referendum and conducted jointly with Sweden. Finland is unlikely to join the alliance in the three-year outlook.

Social Stability

Far-right protests have remained probable in the aftermath of the August 2017 Turku knife attack and the December 2018 investigations of sexual abuse by asylum seekers. The risk of low-level violence between demonstrators and anti-racism protesters, specifically in larger cities including Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku, is likely to be mitigated by police measures. Far-right movements are especially active during national commemoration days, such as the Independence Day on 6 December. With the majority of employees unionised, protests and labour strikes occur frequently in reaction to potential job losses or disagreements over working conditions and wages. Workers' protests and sectorial labour strikes remain likely.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis B : a vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio : a booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Practical Information

Climate

Finland has a subarctic climate. Springs and summers are short. Winters last for some five months in the south and some seven months in Lapland (north). Temperatures are pleasant beginning in June and cool weather returns mid-August. Important fluctuations in temperatures are often observed over the course of a single day, even in summer. In the north of the country, daylight is near-constant for almost three months.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +358
Police: 112
Fire Dept.: 112
Ambulance: 112

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal