A chronically depressed economy, rising unemployment and an aversion to free-market reforms. Sound like a familiar European tale? But not Greece, Spain or Portugal. It’s Finland.
As the indebted and ailing countries in the eurozone’s southern rim struggle out of their six-year crisis, some with more success than others, Finland is succumbing to its own.
Its economy, which has contracted every year since 2012, was the worst performer in the common-currency area in the first three quarters of 2015, according to Eurostat data.
Its deficit is relatively higher than Italy’s, despite being ranked fourth in the EU in terms of how much taxes and social charges it demands from its citizens, and its unemployment rate exceeds those of its Nordic neighbours.
The jobless rate rose to 9.2% in December, the highest level since June 2015.
Finance Minister Alexander Stubb has started referring to his country as the latest “sick man of Europe”.
“Finland has become an economy that runs on a deficit” and is “10% to 15% behind Sweden or Germany” in terms of competitiveness, Economy Minister Olli Rehn has said.
Declining orders from neighbouring Russia, a weakening of the local paper industry and the collapse of Nokia Oyj’s consumer-electronics business have combined to undermine what was once one of Western Europe’s strongest economies.
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