Europe needs to go back to the real business, with citizens at the center

Is economy about numbers or about people? These days we easily get the impression that our economy thrives through numbers and money alone. Higher GDP numbers are proudly announced as ‘economic growth’ while at the same time there is no prospect for millions of jobless people, a number that still is increasing. Also at the same time poverty has risen in Europe to unprecedented post-war levels.

Of course, often job growth lags behind and follows after growth in production and investment. There is a widespread assumption that this will again be the case. Perhaps, but this is quite uncertain since the causes of the crisis seem not really to have been addressed.

In my opinion the economic crisis is a moral crisis, a crisis of trust and a crisis of ownership. The greed in the financial capital markets has been a major cause of the crisis. The dominance of capital markets has also lead to a crisis in ownership. People feel disempowered, they have the strong feeling that they have no real influence over the economy in which they are working and living. The overemphasis on the stock markets has given the message that the economy is indeed about numbers and money and that people can only follow the developments.

How to change direction? 

Our economy cannot exist independent from people and culture. We cannot put our economy in a separate box. Our economy is a whole that is based on relations and improves if these relations are just and fair. If people feel that they relate to their work, their company, their managers, their colleagues, than that creates a long-term sustainable economy.

Europe needs to go back to the real business, with citizens at the center. 

This means first and foremost that SME’s have to be front and centre in economic policy. SME’s are the main employer and the best guarantee for long-term employment. The majority of the new job opportunities that arise in Eu­rope, are created by the small and medium sized businesses, nearly 4 million jobs each year. All that can be done to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and the involvement of SME’s needs to be done. The EU ‘s “Small Business Act“ initiative needs to get much more emphasis and when preparing new initiatives and EU-regulations, an assessment of planned actions’ impacts on small enterprises should be carried out. But we also need to encourage the renewal of entrepreneurial spirit and an inclusive economy.

Investing in education

We need an approach that connects young people to experts and professionals in any field. This can range from seasoned craftsmen to expert technicians. Only if we are able to include as many young people as possible in our economy we will have an economic future. For all young people who have entrepreneurial potential there needs to be support and encouragement in that direction.

It is time for an economy in which free market is completed with important fundamentals of our economic life like ecological sustainability and inclusive economic growth. It is time for a system that allows no reward without responsibility, no investment without involvement and no profit without participation.

EU should put pressure on countries which violate freedom of religion

In the beginning of February the U.S. Congress arranged an annual prayer breakfast, which is held every year in February in Washington, DC. This year I was privileged to attend the meeting. Members of the Senate and House of Representatives were hosting the politicians and leaders from more than 140 countries. This year Prayer Breakfast gathered together more than 3000 participants.

What are the benefits of this class forum then? First of all, the event was steeped in harmony and joy. Lots of inspiring speeches were held. The good power of Christian faith linked together all the speeches. It felt encouraging, when the President if Haiti, Michel Martelly, said in his speech that the driving force in his work is the love of Jesus Christ. Rwandan president’s wife Jeanette Kagame told a touching story on the ongoing reconciliation work in her home country. And last but not least, President Obama’s speech. The speech, which focused on the individual’s right for freedom of religion and freedom of faith. He reminded that it is important to raise and defense those who are persecuted for their faith. This is relevant issue at a time when religious persecution in the world touches mostly Christian believers. The number of dark reports on suicide bombings against the churches and killings of Christians is growing. A large proportion of the world’s refugees leave their home country today only for the simple reason that they are vulnerable to persecution for their Christian faith. International human rights organizations reported that 80 percent of all religious persecution today touches Christian believers. Hence, Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. Every eleventh minute, seven days a week, 365 days a year, someone dies because of the Christian faith. Freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, is prohibited in a total of 200 million of Christians in 139 countries of the world. It’s not contradictory to fight for the freedom of religion, equality for all, and at the same time to direct attention to the fact that proves the persecution of Christians.

What are the source of values for European Union?

Where is Europe heading? This is one of the main questions in the next year EU-parliament elections.

In a time of growing distrust in the European political institutions it is time to reconnect the EU with its peoples and the values they recognise as vital for their personal life and their societies. This requires that these values will be in the core of EU policies and it also requires an explicit connection with the source of these values in order to keep them fresh and strong in our Union.

Christianity entered Europe nearly 2000 years ago and has since then had a profound influence in our continent. Even though Europe is rich in its cultural , the christian faith runs as a red thread through . European nations and cultures. In all these cultures Christianity has had a deep impact on ethics, religion, view at humanity and freedom.

The leaders who founded the European Union envisioned a union of nations that would preserve, protect and spread the values that are the foundation of our freedom and democracy. These are the Judeo-Christian values that determined the very fabric of our European societies; respect for the individual, respect for diversity and solidarity.

 

Christian Democrats in Finland appealing for broad support for the referendum in Sudan


According to the peace agreement, signed in 2005 by government in Khartoum and Southern Sudan, represented by the Sudan People´s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the referendum for Southern Sudans autonomy will take place next January.

SPLMs European spokesman, Ali Abdelatif Husseinin, met with me on Wednesday in Helsinki. Ali Abdelatif Hussein said, that right now everything seems to be unstable and that the government in Khartoum does not comply with the peace agreement. There are still several open issues as how to share the oil incomes and where to draw the border.

I am going to ask the Christian Democrats in Parliament to call on other parties to express their support for democratic and free referendum in January. In the worst case it seems that a new war could start, which may involve huge flows of refugees and cost innocent people their lives.

– SPLM is a social democratic party, but now all parties should work towards a peaceful solution to the conflict.

According to Ali Hussein M the support from Finland and the European Parliament is very important, because Khartoum is closely following how different countries attitudes will develop. A significant number of countries have already promised to recognize

South Sudan independence if the people chooses this alternative in the January referendum.
Christian Democratic Party and the SPLM will keep regular contact to follow up with developments in the autumn.

How would we act if Hamas would be shooting rockets at our country every day?

Before Facts Known, European Politicians condemned Israel’s attempts to Stop Illegal Flotilla

Several European leaders were quick to condemn Israel’s campaign Monday to prevent an illegal flotilla from reaching Gaza – well before information and video footage showed that the self-described human rights activists aboard one of the ships were armed and violently attacked Israeli military personnel.

Despite the fact that Israel publicly offered to inspect and then transfer the flotilla’s aid to Gaza several days prior to the incident, many opponents of Israel are now making wild accusations that humanitarian supplies are being blocked from entering Gaza. The facts put these charges to rest – just take a look at how much aid Israel regularly delivers to Gaza, and what it means in real terms for Gazans:

  • Over one million tons of humanitarian supplies were delivered by Israel to the people of Gaza in the past 18 months – that’s equal to nearly one ton of aid for every man, woman and child in Gaza.
  • In the first quarter of 2010 alone (January-March), Israel delivered 94,500 tons of supplies to Gaza. It’s very easy to miss what that actually means for the people of Gaza. The breakdown includes:
    • 40,000 tons of wheat – which is equal to 53 million loaves of bread;
    • 2,760 tons of rice – which equals 69 million servings;
    • 1,987 tons of clothes and footwear – the equivalent weight of 3.6 million pairs of jeans;and
    • 553 tons of milk powder and baby food – equivalent to over 3.1 million days of formula for an average six-month-old baby.
  • This reflects a long-term effort on the part of Israel to deliver a massive and comprehensive supply of aid to Gaza’s civilians, while restricting the ability of Hamas to import missiles that have been launched at the cities of southern Israel. In 2009 alone:
    • During the Muslim holy days of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha, Israel shipped some 11,000 head of cattle into Gaza – enough to provide 8.8 million meals of beef;
    • More than 3,000 tons of hypochlorite were delivered by Israel to Gaza for water purification purposes – that’s 60 billion gallons of purified water; and
    • Israel brought some 4,883 tons of medical equipment and medicine into Gaza – a weight equivalent to over 360,000 260-piece mobile trauma first aid kits. A neccesary question to all of us is: how would we act – and what should we demand our leaders to do, if Hamas would be shooting rockets at our country every day?

Is the EU going into the old socialistic system?

EU ministers has overnight agreed to found a 750 billion euro currency fund to ensure that countries with problems, (read Greece, Portugal, Spain, England and Ireland), shall be guaranted loans to “the right marketprice” when they are in need of additional loans.
I hope that the decision is biting on “the free market forces”. I am now going to Vilnius to participate in the EPP group’s spring meeting. It will be interesting to hear how the heads of state and finance ministers from the conservative controlled nations will speak. Is the EU moving away from the only salvation “free market force theory” into the old socialistic system, where the  collective bears responsibility for the negligence of others?

Sm-sector share of GDP is 40 percent.

SMEs are important to our economy. Of the total business turnover of 395 billion SMEs account for half and most of their sales occur in industry and commerce. Sm-sector share of GDP is 40 percent.

Of the imports SMEs share is 23 percent and of the exports 10 percent. It should also be recognized that many small and medium-sized companies has a role as subcontractors to larger enterprises, whose products and services are exported.

In many cases, sole entrepreneurs could have the opportunity to expand, but companies are not necessarily prepared to deal with the risks and responsibilities that an employee entails.
In many situations a job could be easier for the entrepreneur, as this could share the liabilities. By reducing the costs of employer’s temporary for 1-2 years, it would be easier for sole entrepreneurs to employ new staff.

Actions to strengthen the business is an importnat issue for Finland. It is particularly important that we give postive signals to the investing industry and that we are prepared to ensure energy at an affordable price also in the future.

The government should ensure the presumptions for the industry. At the same time it ensures that Finland collects export revenues. The energy tax on industry must therefore be on a level, so that the economy of Finland remains competitive.

Familyparty CD wants better conditions for families

Christian Democrat family policies has now been renewed. As a real family party, CD wants to work for families and children. The program’s Christian roots goes deep into a world of values, while its branches and leaves can be found in everyday reality, in the midst of today’s different families.

Single parents, carers and new families are increasing in number. These parents also need strong support from our society in their role as carers and raising up children. A good network  of supporters is particularly important for single parents. For the lone parents’ strength and wellbeing, it is crucial that they also have an opportunity for their own time and to socialize with friends.

Family program’s overall theme is to emphasize family values, to facilitate the formation of the family, to assist and support families in difficult situations. The cornerstone of our society ‘s family. If the families are doing well – then the community is well doing, or vice versa. Even in a changing society the Christian values are a solid base for family policies.

"I’m unemployed."

In today’s Finland, there are many who, with anguish and frightened voice, is forced to respond “I am unemployed,” when they´re asked “what are you doing?”

Well-educated people, skilled at different tasks – and even with a long work experience – but what does it benefit, when there are no jobs to be searched?

The only thing that can be worse, than when the alarm clock goes on early in the morning, is if it does not need to go on.

Widespread unemployment is a waste of human resources. One reason for having a job, is of course money. However, it is also about the fact that people wants to belong to a community, to feel that you are needed, to feel satisfaction because of doing a good job.

Human dignity is not measured in how much we work, how much we earn or what we achieve. But having a job or task is a key issue in our lives. Unemployment must be combated by all means. Large industry, often public stockmarket companies, automate and reorganize to become more competitive, trying to optimize profit margins. Rather than in large industry, most new jobs in recent years occurred in SMEs. Therefore, the focus in policy decision must be on lowering the employment threshold for SMEs.