What's up, Europe? The Helsinki chapter

In Finland, worries about Greece abound. But it's the struggles of cell-phone maker -- and homegrown company -- Nokia that really have people talking.

Kai Ryssdal: Three days after its most recent elections, there's a new government in Greece today. A coalition of three parties that support the European Union's bailout plan. It brings at least little hope for stability after some pretty unstable times. And let's us ask this: "What's up, Europe?" Today the northern reaches of the EU -- Helsinki, Finland and journalist Esa Makinen. He's with Finland's largest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. Welcome to the program.

Esa Makinen: Good to talk to you, Kai.

Ryssdal: So when you turn to the business pages of your newspaper today, what are the big stories in the business pages?

Makinen: Well, Greece was one and of course the even bigger thing is the decline of Nokia.

Ryssdal: Oh yeah, of course, the cell phone company.

Makinen: Yeah, cell phone company that's gone down as the Apple and iPhones have taken over the world from our precious Nokia. They laid off some 10,000 people and 3,700 in Finland. That's a major crisis here because Nokia has given us about 3 percent of our gross national product at some years.

Ryssdal: Do you feel threatened at all by the Greek problem? I mean, is it something that you're worried about on a day-to-day basis over there?

Makinen: Yeah, sure. Personally I've been thinking of buying an apartment, but I thought that I won't do it before the Greek elections. And now when the Greek elections are over, I'm not still sure whether or not I should buy an apartment because if it blows off we'll be all in big trouble.

Ryssdal: Is there a sense -- just on the politics of this whole European thing -- that Europe needs to draw closer, that you have to keep the Greeks in to keep the European experimen alive?

Makinen: No. I think that we have been doing that for a long time. I think that now we have reached the limit. If Greece don't do something with their economy they may go then. That feeling has been very strong in Finland for the last year and I think in Germany, who really calls the shots on these issues, it's even more that way.

Ryssdal: Yeah, good riddance a little bit. Right?

Makinen: Yeah, yeah. We've had it, I think.

Ryssdal: Esa Makinen, he's at the biggest newspaper in Finland. It's called Helsingin Sanomat. We got him in Helsinki. Esa, thank you so much.

Makinen: Thank you for having me.


Ryssdal: Bad as Greece is, the pain Spain could bring would be much, much worse. We have a video on our website that explains why.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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