Heureka Forum: Bold structural changes needed to improve Finland's economy
(Translation. Originally published in Finnish on 26 August 2013)
Some 50 participants representing political parties, interest groups and research institutes were invited by Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen in the Finnish Science Centre, Heureka, to discuss the challenges and future of Finland's economy on Monday 26 August.
In his opening address, Prime Minister Katainen emphasised that a cyclical upturn is not enough to overcome the structural challenges of our economy. It requires a common vision and joint responsibility.
- They say that we Finns work best when under pressure. History does not tell anything about the future, however. Does this generation have the ability to create a new Finland?, Prime Minister Katainen asked.
The Heureka Forum focused on economic policy issues in working groups whose discussions were sparked by three presentations. Tiitta Vaulos, Research Director at TNS Gallup, gave a presentation on Finnish people's values and attitudes reflecting a change towards cautiousness and a need to be safe and comfortable. Sixten Korkman, Professor at Aalto University, spoke about challenges relating to long-term economic policies and discussed the future of the Nordic welfare state. "The welfare state is too extensive in relation to the tax base", Professor Korkman said. Erkki Liikanen, Governor of the Bank of Finland, drew attention in his presentation to the challenging economic situation picture. To return to a sustainable growth track, Liikanen considered it necessary to safeguard the basic strengths of our economy, improve competitiveness and carry out determined structural changes.
The working groups worked on issues such as opportunities and shortcomings of the Nordic welfare state; measures to increase labour supply and workforce mobility; efforts to raise the employment rate; sustainability of public finances; and the operating conditions of companies.
- There was an appreciative atmosphere and participants showed curiousness and commitment. I believe the discussions will provide an excellent basis for resolving even difficult situations together. It now requires us an ability to take action and a far-reaching perspective on the structural reform ahead, Prime Minister Katainen said.
A recorded webcasting (in Finnish only) can be viewed at YLE Areena website or the government website at http://valtioneuvosto.fi/ajankohtaista/tallenteet/fi.jsp.
Inquiries: Olli-Pekka Heinonen, State Secretary, tel. +358 295 160 280; Taina Kulmala, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 160 184; Kari Mokko, Director General, Government Communications Department, tel. +358 40 751 3281; and Päivi Paasikoski, Head of Communications, tel. +358 40 547 6279, Prime Minister's Office
Website of the Heureka Forum (in Finnish only): vnk.fi/heurekafoorumi
Forum Twitter hashtag: #heurekafoorumi