Finland

Implication des Syndicats dans le semestre européen
Trade Union Involvement in the EU Semester

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http://collective.etuc.org/SocialPartner/finland

European Semester Officers (ESO) in your country:

Ismo GRONROOS - SAIKKALA
Email
ismo.gronroos-saikkala@ec.europa.eu
Telephone
+ 358 9 6226 5486
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+358 400 241 656

Vesa-Pekka POUTANEN
Email
vesa-pekka.poutanen@ec.europa.eu
Telephone
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National Reports

In general, the AGS was as expected and does not contain any big surprises.

The Commission is no longer worried about the rise in unit labour costs in Finland. This is due to the modest weage agreements in centralized wage settlements after 2011. The labour market parties have taken seriously the problems in external competitiveness.

The Commission is planning to further deepen the European semester, ie. they call for better implementation of the country-specific recommendations and greater national ownership. In theory this might pose a threat to independent collective bargaining. Specailly in the case that the Commission has reccomended something in wage formation.

The Commission is paying attenention on Germany's external surplus. That is positive. The obvious conclusion is that wages should rise quicker in Germany.

The employment and social crises do not receive tha attention they should.

Implementation and effect of 2014 country specific recommendations:
1. The council recommended to respect the medium-term objective and to ensure that the debt criterion is fulfilled, while pursuing a growth-friendly fiscal policy. This recommendation is internally contradictory, as growth-friendly fiscal policy would require greater deficits. The government has attempted to follow this guideline by paying close attention to the medium-term objective and debt criterion and at the same time paying lip-service to growth friendly fiscal policy.
2. The council recommended effective implementation of the administrating reforms concerning municipal reform and social and healthcare services. The government has continued work on this, but the effectiveness of the reforms remains to be seen. In our view this recommendation had no effect, since the recommendation was basically to continue doing what the government was already doing.
3. The council recommended improving the use of the full labour force potential in the labour market, including by improving the employability of older workers, reducing early exit pathways and aligning statutory retirement age to changes in life expectancy. On this subject negotiations by the social partners regarding the pension system are on track to be completed by fall 2014 as earlier agreed. This recommendation has had no significant impact, since negotiations regarding the pension system would have been conducted regardless.
4. The council recommended to enhance competition in product and service markets. Work has continued on this, but no significant reform to report.
5. The council recommended to continuing to boost Finland’s capacity to deliver innovative products, services and high-growth companies in a rapidly changing environment and continue the diversification of industry, in particular by raising incentives to invest in Finland. The corporate tax rate was cut in 2014 from 24.5 % to 20 %. So far this has not had a noticeable impact on Finland’s innovative capacity. Besides this, the government has implemented other policies aiming to improve incentives to invest. However, in this case as well the effect of the country specific recommendation has been minimal, since even absent such recommendation governments tend to always want to boost capacity to deliver innovation and growth.

Inputs for the annual growth survey 2015:
In the annual growth survey greater emphasis should be placed on external surpluses, rather than only deficits. Countries would large surpluses should help correct excessive imbalances within the euro-area by increasing wages.

1. The council recommended to respect the medium-term objective and to ensure that the debt criterion is fulfilled, while pursuing a growth-friendly fiscal policy. This recommendation is internally contradictory, as growth-friendly fiscal policy would require greater deficits. The government has attempted to follow this guideline by paying close attention to the medium-term objective and debt criterion and at the same time paying lip-service to growth friendly fiscal policy.
2. The council recommended effective implementation of the administrating reforms concerning municipal reform and social and healthcare services. The government has continued work on this, but the effectiveness of the reforms remains to be seen. In our view this recommendation had no effect, since the recommendation was basically to continue doing what the government was already doing.
3. The council recommended improving the use of the full labour force potential in the labour market, including by improving the employability of older workers, reducing early exit pathways and aligning statutory retirement age to changes in life expectancy. On this subject negotiations by the social partners regarding the pension system are on track to be completed by fall 2014 as earlier agreed. This recommendation has had no significant impact, since negotiations regarding the pension system would have been conducted regardless.
4. The council recommended to enhance competition in product and service markets. Work has continued on this, but no significant reform to report.
5. The council recommended to continuing to boost Finland’s capacity to deliver innovative products, services and high-growth companies in a rapidly changing environment and continue the diversification of industry, in particular by raising incentives to invest in Finland. The corporate tax rate was cut in 2014 from 24.5 % to 20 %. So far this has not had a noticeable impact on Finland’s innovative capacity. Besides this, the government has implemented other policies aiming to improve incentives to invest. However, in this case as well the effect of the country specific recommendation has been minimal, since even absent such recommendation governments tend to always want to boost capacity to deliver innovation and growth.
Inputs for the annual growth survey 2015:
In the annual growth survey greater emphasis should be placed on external surpluses, rather than only deficits. Countries would large surpluses should help correct excessive imbalances within the euro-area by increasing wages.

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions wants to clarify the facts behind certain recommendations. In the third (3) recommendation it is said that the agreed pension reform should be adopted in Finland. That is the most important recommendation especially when Finland is about to have a new Government. It is also said in the same CSR that Finland should eliminate the early exit pathways. It must be clarified that there is no longer any early retirement system in Finland. Unemployed workers approaching retirement age will be eligible for an extended period of earnings-related unemployment benefit and that was a part of the pension solution. The aim of that is not to encourage employees to get out of working life earlier but to guarantee subsistence in case of unemployment. These unemployed employees are part of the labour force and are obliged to accept job offers. The problem is that the employers in Finland don´t employ the elderly workers though they are willing to work. It is very important that the reform of the pension system is adopted to legislation as a whole package. Altering one part of it will jeopardize the common approval of the solution which also contains a rising of the retirement ages.

In the CSR’s it is also recommended that Finland should ensure, in consultation with the social partners and in accordance with national practices, that wages evolve in line with productivity. The role of social partners in Finland, though, is not and should not be only consultative. It is, in the first hand, the social partners who agree on wage formation. In the text (provisions (6) and (10)) the main reasons for the compatibility problems that Finnish export industry is dealing with are quite well described. However, the wages evolving in line with the productivity, is the only recommendation concerning the matter even though the wages are not the reason for the problems.

What comes to the final recommendation (4) to “take measures to open the retail sector to effective competition” it has to be noticed that it is very wide recommendation which can contain nearly anything. Whatever the measures are their influence on employment and the employees’ position must be carefully examined. The measures should also be neutral and if possible even progress neutrality between digital and traditional trade. Thus, the digital trade should have the same obligations (for example in taxation and as an employer) as the traditional trade.