Centre seeking compromise on alcohol law reform

The ruling parties’ efforts to iron out the final few details of a draft bill to introduce changes to the alcohol legislation of Finland hit a serious deadlock on Wednesday.

Annika Saarikko (Centre), the chairperson of the working group appointed to draw up the reform bill, announced that the preconditions for continuing the negotiations do not exist and that the meeting scheduled for yesterday had consequently been cancelled.

I regret to announce that the working group didn’t convene today,” she said.

Saarikko revealed that she and Timo Kalli, the Centre’s second representative in the working group, have been granted a mandate to determine if the working group is willing to revisit sections of the draft bill agreed upon last year.

The working group consists of two representatives from each of the three ruling parties – the Centre, the Finns Party and the National Coalition. The National Coalition’s representatives, Outi Mäkelä and Sinuhe Wallinheimo, said they were surprised by the decision to cancel the meeting and voiced their unwillingness to seek a compromise on what was already a compromise.

“The chairperson single-handedly called off the meeting. You’d have to ask her about the preconditions,” commented Mäkelä.

“We’re of the opinion that the baseline agreement is good and that it should the basis for the negotiations.”

Wallinheimo, in turn, revealed that the meeting was called off abruptly no more than an hour before it was scheduled to begin. “We’ll have to see where this is going. The Centre is obviously wary, but I’m sure that we can find some kind of an agreement,” he said.

The six-member working group agreed upon the outlines of the reform bill over a year ago. The bill would, for example, allow grocery shops to retail beverages with a maximum alcohol content of 5.5 per cent regardless of their production method. Grocery shops are currently allowed to retail fermented beverages with an alcohol content not exceeding 4.7 per cent.

The original objective was to enact the amendments before mid-2017.

The draft bill, however, came under crushing criticism from a number of stakeholders, stirring up concerns especially among members of the Centre Party.

“It’s a well-known fact that some members of our parliamentary group are concerned about the effects of having strong beers and canned cocktails [in grocery shops],” confirmed Antti Kaikkonen, the chairperson of the Centre Parliamentary Group.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) was reluctant to comment on the developments on Wednesday. He emphasised that the fate of the reform bill now lies with the parliamentary groups and reminded that the government will discuss the draft bill only after the working group has reached a settlement.

Sipilä also stated that the reform is not among the top priorities of his government. “This certainly isn’t one of the biggest reform on our agenda,” he said.

No timetable for continuing the negotiations has yet been provided.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Photo: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva

helsinkitimes
alcohollegislation Finland.
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
The coach of a sports club in Hyvinkää, southern Finland has been remanded into police custody on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors he was coaching, the Itä-Uusimaa police department said on Thursday. Officials said that they are investigating the case as suspected child abuse but did not disclose the ages of the alleged victims. The suspect in the case, a 50-year-old man, was remanded into custody on Wednesday. The suspected sexual abuse is believed to...
Society
Finns increasingly forego do-it-yourself construction of prefab elements in favour of completely completed homes. Turnkey homes (where homes are fully finished and owners can immediately occupy them) have become more popular than traditional house packages, says the Finnish Association for Manufacturers of Prefabricated Houses. “About 7,500 detached homes are built in Finland every year, and about 70 percent of them are prefabricated houses of some kind,”...
Society
THE FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE in the Helsinki neighbourhood of Arabianranta was visibly subdued on Tuesday, as residents mourned the death of a local child who is believed to have been murdered. While little information has been released to the public, it is known that the victim was murdered near their home on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24). The police apprehended a suspect at the scene of the crime, who has been confirmed as a 36-year old male. Whethe...
Society
One of Finland’s most famous seafaring vessels, the titanic icebreaker Otso, was deployed on its first mission of the winter season last night, keeping sea routes open for the 22nd year in a row. Late in the evening of Christmas Day, Otso, the crowning glory of Arctia Oy’s extensive fleet, departed from Helsinki’s Katajanokka Harbour, heading north to the Bay of Bothnia. The 7000-ton Polar icebreaker has been tasked with keeping waterways open between Oulu...
Society
Eight Finnish political parties have published their a statement on future climate policy goals in Finland. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) in November invited all nine parliamentary parties to join a task force established to find an agreement on new, more ambitious climate goals for Finland. The one-month project was led by Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing. The Finns Party abandoned the task force last w...
Society
A 25-year-old man suspected of the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 15 in Oulu, northwestern Finland, who was arrested in Germany last Tuesday is now reported to be at large. According to law enforcement officials in Oulu, the suspect was released by German police before he could be transferred to Finnish custody due to "a breakdown in communication between authorities". Oulu District Court ordered the suspect to be reprimanded into custody in absen...
Society
Finland’s high earners saw their real income grow more in 2017 than their peers in middle and low income groups, according to new data released by Statistics Finland on Tuesday. Incomes among the country’s highest income decile rose by 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while the year-on-year increase was 1.3 percent for middle income earners. Incomes for the four lowest income deciles meanwhile grew by 1.2 percent over the one-year period. However amon...
Society
A man wanted in connection with a suspected arson attempt on a home in Helsinki’s Käpylä district was remanded into police custody on Sunday. The Helsinki district court has remanded a man suspected of attempted arson and attempted murder into police custody, ending a short-lived manhunt, police said on Sunday. The 25 year-old is suspected of using a Molotov cocktail to cause a fire at a flat in Käpylä, Helsinki last Monday. The apartment was completely de...
Society
Helsinki Central Library Oodi will opened its doors to the public on 5 December at 8am, a day before Finland’s 101st birthday. Designed by ALA Architects, this library of a new era is an ode to Finnish culture, equality and freedom of expression. Oodi offers everyone an open, public urban space at Kansalaistori Square, right opposite Parliament House. Central Library Oodi is an active and functional meeting point with 2.5 million expected annual visitors....