‘Fifth of holidaymakers travel uninsured’

By Peter Woodman

Tuesday, 4 October 2011



‘Fifth of holidaymakers uninsured’

As many as 20% of UK holidaymakers are still going abroad without taking out travel insurance, a survey by travel organisation Abta found.

More than one in four travellers mistakenly believes the UK Government will cover their bills if something goes wrong.

The poll of 2,018 consumers also found that only 44% bought travel insurance for trips in the UK.

Abta’s financial protection chief, John de Vial, said: “It is very worrying that so many people are putting their health and finances at risk by travelling abroad without insurance.”

The survey results were released at the Abta annual convention in Palma, Majorca.

The survey also showed that safe and secure accommodation was considered the most important thing when booking a holiday.

Beach holidays and trips away with the family are the most popular type of breaks, followed by city trips and travelling with a partner;

According to respondents,Spain is the most popular destination for families, followed by the UK, USA, France, Greece and Italy;

More than half of the people who have taken a foreign holiday in the last six months booked through a travel agent or tour operator, and women were significantly more likely to book a trip through a high street travel agent than men.


Mykonos has the X-Factor as Tulisa Strikes a Chord With Viewers

CHESTER, England, October 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ —

Tulisa proves most influential judge ever with 433 per cent rise in online flight searches for Mykonos
Kelly Rowland helps drive 50 per cent rise in searches to Miami
X-Factor increasingly inspires British travellers to visit the stars’ holiday hotspots

Following this weekend’s ITV1 X-Factor episodes, which saw 32 contestants singing for survival at the ‘judges’ houses’ around the world, there has been a surge in interest to the featured destinations according to TravelSupermarket.

This year’s judges and their locations have proved much more popular than last year’s line-up. While Cheryl Cole’s destination last year, Ascot, showed no uplift in searches, Tulisa’s trip to Mykonos, Greece led to a whopping 433 per cent rise in interest for flights since the shows aired.

The new judges’ locations trumped that of mainstay Louis Walsh. Louis’s destination, Barcelona, has seen uplift in searches of just 22 per cent. However Los Angeles, as visited by Gary Barlow and the boys has seen a 43 per cent increase while Miami, which was visited by Kelly Rowland and the girls, received an increase of 48 per cent compared to the previous week.

As well as flights, online searches for package holidays for the featured locations also saw a significant increase. Searches for package holidays to Mykonos increased by 255 per cent after the show and the increase for Miami was 30 per cent.

TravelSupermarket compared the following searches on its site for this week versus last week* – before the weekend’s much anticipated episodes – to determine which destination has the X-Factor:

  1. Mykonos, Greece (Tulisa Contostavlos) – uplift of 433 per cent
  2. Miami, USA (Kelly Rowland) – uplift of 48 per cent
  3. Los Angeles, USA (Gary Barlow) – uplift of 43 per cent
  4. Barcelona, Spain (Louis Walsh) – uplift of 22 per cent

The results show a marked increase compared to last year – signaling that our desire to copy the jet-setting lifestyle of our favourite judges is well and truly on the increase. Last year Louis led the way when he took his hopefuls to Shannon with the Irish location seeing an uplift in searches of 83 per cent. Marbella, as visited by Simon Cowell, saw searches climb by 45 per cent and Sydney in Australia – as visited by Dannii – saw an increase of 42 per cent at this stage of the competition in 2010.

Overall, this year’s destinations were bolstered by flight searches totaling a whopping 546 per cent, compared to just 170 per cent in 2010.

Peter Smith, travel expert at TravelSupermarket said: “People enjoy being inspired by TV, celebrities and films for their holidays, so the concept of ‘screenspiration’ isn’t a new trend. It in fact opens up a whole new world of possibilities that people might not have considered before.

“We all have our daydreams of visiting the beautiful places we see on screen, but it seems that we are now looking to live the dream and are pricing up these destinations.

“My advice is to do some research into the destinations you are interested in before booking, particularly when looking at the best time of year to go. Greece for example is lovely and warm in September when the programme was filmed, but will be cooling down though the autumn and winter months and could leave holidaymakers disappointed.

“Once you have an idea of when to go, holidaymakers should shop around to make sure they get the best price on their flight and hotel, or their package deal.”

Notes to editors:

* Travelsupermarket compared searches from between 8pm on Saturday 1 October to 12am (midnight) on Sunday 2 October to the same period the previous week

About TravelSupermarket

TravelSupermarket is an online comparison service where customers can find the best value travel options for their needs and purchase over the internet. The website compares flights, car hire, hotels, cruise, package holidays plus dynamic packaging by searching hundreds of travel websites. The information supplied is unbiased and is designed to save the customer time and money.

The site thrives on offering its users accurate real time availability by taking information directly from suppliers such as Opodo, British Airways, Thomas Cook, First Choice, Radisson, Sol Melia, easyCar, Auto-Europe and many more, ensuring users are presented the best possible price at all times. It searches:

  • Over 650 scheduled, low cost and charter airlines from 39 individual suppliers
  • Over 200,000 individual hotels from over 42 individual hotel suppliers
  • Over 200 individual car hire providers from over 21 suppliers
  • 1,000s of individual package holidays from over 34 suppliers

Additionally, TravelSupermarket also compares prices on travel insurance and on airport car parking.

TravelSupermarket is part of the Moneysupermarket.com Group PLC.

http://www.moneysupermarket.com is a website where consumers can compare personal finance products, save money and apply online. The website has several service areas including personal loans, credit cards, mortgages, current accounts, savings accounts, motor insurance, home insurance, travel insurance, health insurance, mobile phones, broadband and shopping.

Emma Morris
TravelSupermarket
[email protected]
+44(0)1244-220-671


Michael Lewis sees messy end for Greece


NEW YORK |
Tue Oct 4, 2011 4:19pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Greece will default on its debts, Ireland could too and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be forced out as Europe’s financial crisis plays out, author Michael Lewis predicted on Tuesday.

The writer who began his career exposing the culture of excess at Salomon Brothers in “Liar’s Poker” is promoting his latest book “Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World,” published this week by W.W. Norton.

The book details three years of research and reporting on Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Germany and California, revealing aspects of the global economy’s woes and the national characteristics behind them. It follows his bestseller “The Big Short” about the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown.

“Greece is defaulting, right? They are restructuring. Whatever you want to call it, Greece is defaulting,” Lewis told Reuters in an interview. “The only question is how.”

“I don’t think Merkel is going to survive in Germany and I don’t think Papandreou is going to survive in Greece — they have so alienated their populations,” he said.

Lewis believes efforts by European leaders to bail out Greece again and stave off contagion in Ireland, Portugal, Italy and even Spain only put off the inevitable.

While Lewis cautions that no one knows exactly how matters will play out, his predictions are closely watched given his position as one of America’s best selling and most respected business journalists.

Keen to temper his forecasts, he added, “Nobody can tell you what is going to happen because it is too complicated.”

With global markets in turmoil in recent days on fears Greece may default on its debts even amid a second expected bailout, Lewis expects “it will be very messy” and “Greece will leave the euro” with “creditors taking huge losses.”

Following on, “I can’t believe the Irish are not going to join that party” and default on its debts, letting its banks fail. “These sort of things could happen and it might even be healthy for them to happen rather than have this huge overhang,” he said.

On the difference between Ireland and Greece, Lewis said: “The Irish just have a greater talent for suffering. If you imposed on the Greeks what the Irish have imposed on the Irish population, people would be getting shot.”

SCHWARZENEGGER’S WHIM

Each chapter in “Boomerang,” neatly meshing business and economic reporting with travel writing, appeared in slightly shorter form in Vanity Fair. The final chapter, on California, appears in the magazine’s latest issue.

That chapter finds Lewis on an early-morning bike ride with former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger seeking to explain why the state’s finances are in such distress.

Lewis admits staging the scene after interviewing the Austrian-American for a day in his office. “It was so static. He seemed to be a man in motion, so I put him in motion.”

“At first I thought, ‘I will go and lift weights with him. But I thought that will be so embarrassing,'” said Lewis, who next to the former body builder would look stick thin.

Lewis paints the former action movie star famed for “The Terminator” movies as a fantasy politician thrust into the impossible situation of having to grapple with California’s almost intractable problems. He describes him as a person who sees what is ahead, paying little heed to what is behind him.

In perhaps the most revealing moment, Schwarzenegger tells Lewis he made his mind up to run for governor while heading to an appearance on Jay Leno’s “The Tonight Show.”

“He thought, ‘This will freak them out if I go on TV and say I am going to do it,'” Lewis recalled Schwarzenegger telling him. “It was a whim.”

Lewis has also enjoyed critical and commercial success at the movies — his book “The Blind Side” about football was made into an Oscar-winning movie with Sandra Bullock and his book “Moneyball” about baseball is a hit movie starring Brad Pitt.

Next up for the prolific Lewis is writing a script for “Liar’s Poker,” which he said will be directed by Glenn Ficara and John Requa, who directed “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

He has also written a pilot for HBO called “Strays,” a fictionalized account of a baseball agent who smuggled players from Cuba to America. “That is life-changing, if they make it,” he said of the prospect of having his own television drama.

(Editing by Christine Kearney and Cynthia Osterman)


Greece ready to play Gekas for Croatia cup final

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By Graham Wood

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece are treating Friday’s Euro 2012 qualifier at home to Croatia as a cup final and are poised to sharpen their attack by handing striker Fanis Gekas a first appearance since he quit the national team last year.

The top two in Group F meet in Athens with a point between them as Croatia coach Slaven Bilic’s leaders look for a win to reach the finals while the hosts must avoid defeat to stay in the hunt for first place before the last group games on Oct. 11.

“When the draw was made we said that the two games with Croatia would be the most important and so it has proved,” Greece coach Fernando Santos told reporters.

“After the 1-1 draw in Croatia we knew it was a very good result because it meant we kept our destiny in our own hands.”

Santos has sprung a few surprises with his squad selection, bringing back 31-year-old Euro 2004 hero Angelos Charisteas and Gekas, who retired from international soccer in September 2010.

Gekas publicly apologised for what he called an “error of judgment” in a statement he issued on his return to the squad.

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker is expected to spearhead the attack supported on the flanks by Giorgos Samaras and Dimitris Salpigidis in a 4-3-3 formation.

Greece, unbeaten in 14 matches since Santos took over from Otto Rehhagel after the 2010 World Cup, are aiming for nothing less than three points in their final home match.

“The match against Croatia is like a cup final for us and we all believe we will win it,” defender Socrates Papastathopoulos said. “I think we’ll be in the Euro 2012 finals automatically.”

ANOTHER CHANCE

A stubborn defensive display allowed Greece to come away from Zagreb with a point when the teams met last September.

Neither team can finish below second place in the group, which at worst would lead to a spot in the qualifying playoffs for next year’s finals in Poland and Ukraine.

“Defeat would not be the end of the world. Whoever happens to lose this game will still end up second and will get another chance,” Bilic said.

There were no major changes to Croatia’s squad from their last game against Israel on Sept. 6 with the only surprise being Bilic’s decision not to call up forward Ivica Olic who was deemed unfit following a hip injury sustained in August.

The only key player unavailable for selection is captain Darijo Srna, who is suspended.

Striker Eduardo skipped Monday’s training session due to a minor injury and Vedran Corluka had a slight ankle problem but both are expected to have recovered by Friday.

Croatia’s final qualifier is at home to Latvia next Tuesday, while Greece travel to Georgia.

(Additional reporting by David Spaic Kovacic in Zagreb; Editing by Sonia Oxley; To query or comment on this story email: [email protected])


More chaos: Flights to Greece cancelled as new strike begins

By
Ruth Doherty

Last updated at 5:01 PM on 5th October 2011

Flights to Greece have been cancelled today as a 24-hour general strike gets under way over the country’s austerity measures.

easyJet has cancelled 30 flights and British Airways another seven, while Ryanair scrapped six flights.

Trains and ferries will also be cancelled, tourist sites closed, and hospitals working with reduced staff. Greece’s main labor unions expect 16,000 people to strike and protest in the streets of Athens.

Greece protests

More chaos: New protests in Greece have led to cancelled flights

The general strike is the first since the Greek government announced an emergency property tax and the suspension of 30,000 public sector staff last month.

But it is the third time this year that UK flights have been affected by strikes in Greece. Back in June, British holidaymakers endured flight cancellations and severe delays as thousands of protestors took to the streets to express their disappointment at government budget cuts.

And in July, 2000 Greek taxi drivers caused travel chaos when they blocked the roads that led to Athens International Airport and the Port of Piraeus.

Ten cruise ships were in the harbour at the time, and 16,000 tourists were affected.

The Greek government argues that strict austerity measures cannot be avoided if the country wants to reduce its deficit of 8.5 per cent – a requirement for receiving a second bail-out fund from the EU.

But the measures have hit the public hard, and thousands of people, including air traffic controllers, teachers and transport workers, have abandoned work today in favour of marching to Syntagma Square in central Athens to stage a demonstration outside parliament.

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Recession-hit Brits cut most luxuries except their holidays

hard-pressed Brits will give up new smartphones, laptops, meals out and home improvements – but not their annual holidays.

One in five of us regards a longer trip abroad as a necessity we can’t do without and a quarter rate a short UK break equally essential to take our minds off the misery of recession.

Consumers were asked what they would be most unwilling to ditch with 37% sticking with their holidays and 20% wanting to continue eating out.


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Electronic gadgets were a requirement for just 15% and that new kitchen or bathroom was non-negotiable for only 12%.

The results are from the 2011 Abta consumer trends survey, unveiled yesterday at the group’s travel convention in Palma, Majorca. Abta’s Victoria Bacon said: “Consumers have been telling us for years how important their holidays are.

“In tough economic times we all have to think of ways in which we can tighten our belts but it is reassuring for the industry to hear that holidays are the least popular choice for the chop and for many, something they cannot live without.”

The survey also showed a worrying 20% of travellers are still running the risk of sky-high medical bills by not taking out travel insurance when they go abroad.

This may be because 21% ­mistakenly believe the ­Government will cover their costs if something goes wrong when they are away.

Abta’s John de Vial said: “Many wrongly assume it is the Foreign Office’s responsibility to pay for their hospital bills, particularly younger travellers.”

The Foreign Office’s Lynda St Cooke added: “We remain very concerned at the numbers of people travelling without travel insurance and then ending up severely out of pocket.

“If British travellers get into difficulties overseas, there are things the British Embassy or Consulate can do. But consular staff cannot pay hospital bills for travellers, nor fly them home if they run out of holiday money.”

Price is not the most crucial factor when booking a holiday, says the survey.

Almost nine out of 10 tourists rated safe and secure accommodation as the key element in a holiday, with eight out of 10 looking for a ­financial protection scheme.

Surprisingly, just five out of 10 were influenced by the lowest prices.

In a separate Abta survey, Spain has been voted the number one destination for families in the survey with a break at home runner-up and America third. France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, Portugal and Australia make up the rest of the top 10 family-friendly holiday spots.


Rösler plans for default ahead of Greece visit

Just days before he is due to travel to Athens, Economy Minister Philipp Rösler laid out a framework for orderly state bankruptcies, calling for it to be included in a contract for the permanent euro crisis management mechanism.

  • FDP rebels force party member vote on euro rescue plans (5 Oct 11)
  • Merkel man’s apology fails to quell party unease (4 Oct 11)
  • Merkel manager attacked euro fund sceptic (2 Oct 11)

Rösler suggested that when a country within the eurozone can no longer service its debts it would have to surrender some of its sovereignty in a process which would be led by an independent committee to balance, organise and monitor negotiations between creditors and the debtor state. The country concerned would have to establish a sensible restructuring programme, he said.

A European Currency Fund could take on this role as a successor to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which is due to be introduced at the latest in 2013, Rösler said, while creditors would also have to accept some of the losses. The framework had been sent by Rösler to the Finance ministry with the demand it be included in the ESM contract, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

Rösler has been heavily criticised by other senior members of the government for openly airing the possibility of a Greek default – just as the German political body voted for an increase in the country’s contribution to the Greek bail-out.

Yet deputy head of the Christian Democratic Union’s parliamentary party, Michael Fuchs said on Tuesday he thought it made sense to plan the kind of intervention outlined in Rösler’s framework. He told SWR radio, he could not really understand why Luxembourg’s prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the group which has political control over the euro, still believed that Greece’s bankruptcy could be avoided.

Rösler is due in Athens on Thursday, taking a group of German industry managers with him, to talk about possible investments. Yet Rösler’s finance ministry is said to be warning against expectations of any kind of quick fix, drawing parallels to the long-term changes effected in East Germany and other former socialist countries.

While Europe’s future seems to depend on what happens to Greece, the pressure is showing on its prime minister Giorgos Papandreou, who has recently been close to resigning, according to a report in the Financial Times Deutschland.

The paper reported on Tuesday that he had twice spoken about stepping down in the last three weeks. He offered his resignation both times, but then continued, the paper said, quoting sources from people close to him.

He is finding it difficult to deal with the demonstrations by tens of thousands of his fellow Greeks against the savings plans he is being forced to implement – and the pressure from European Union and the International Monetary Fund to increase the cuts. A sense of powerlessness is also making him feel terrible, an insider told the paper. “Greece is deciding nothing any more,” the insider said.

The FTD said the insider described as catastrophic, the effect of his potential resignation in the middle of the negotiations for new financial aid and the implementation of the widespread cuts.

“But when a weariness of holding office has planted itself in his head, he will take that step sooner or later,” he said.

The Greek government denied the report completely, with a spokesman saying, “The information that you have received is nonsense.”

The Local/hc


Greece and Merkel will fall,’ predicts author of ‘Liar’s Poker’ – Al

Greece will default on its debts, Ireland could too and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be forced out as Europe’s financial crisis plays out, author Michael Lewis is predicting.

The writer, who began his career exposing the culture of excess at Salomon Brothers in “Liar’s Poker,” is promoting his latest book, “Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World,” published this week by W.W. Norton.

The book details three years of research and reporting on Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Germany and California, revealing aspects of the global economy’s woes and the national characteristics behind them. It follows his bestseller “The Big Short” about the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown.

“Greece is defaulting, right? They are restructuring. Whatever you want to call it, Greece is defaulting,” Lewis told Reuters in an interview. “The only question is how.”

“I don’t think Merkel is going to survive in Germany and I don’t think Papandreou is going to survive in Greece – they have so alienated their populations,” he said.

Lewis believes efforts by European leaders to bail out Greece again and stave off contagion in Ireland, Portugal, Italy and even Spain only put off the inevitable.

While Lewis cautions that no one knows exactly how matters will play out, his predictions are closely watched, given his position as one of America’s best selling and most respected business journalists.

Keen to temper his forecasts, he added, “Nobody can tell you what is going to happen because it is too complicated.”

With global markets in turmoil in recent days on fears Greece may default on its debts even amid a second expected bailout, Lewis expects “it will be very messy” and “Greece will leave the euro” with “creditors taking huge losses.”

Following on, “I can’t believe the Irish are not going to join that party” and default on its debts, letting its banks fail. “These sort of things could happen and it might even be healthy for them to happen rather than have this huge overhang,” he said.

On the difference between Ireland and Greece, Lewis said: “The Irish just have a greater talent for suffering. If you imposed on the Greeks what the Irish have imposed on the Irish population, people would be getting shot.”

Each chapter in “Boomerang,” neatly meshing business and economic reporting with travel writing, appeared in slightly shorter form in Vanity Fair. The final chapter, on California, appears in the magazine’s latest issue.

That chapter finds Lewis on an early-morning bike ride with former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger seeking to explain why the state’s finances are in such distress.

Lewis admits staging the scene after interviewing the Austrian-American for a day in his office. “It was so static. He seemed to be a man in motion, so I put him in motion.”

“At first I thought, ‘I will go and lift weights with him. But I thought that will be so embarrassing,’” said Lewis, who next to the former body builder would look stick thin.

Lewis paints the former action movie star famed for “The Terminator” movies as a fantasy politician thrust into the impossible situation of having to grapple with California’s almost intractable problems. He describes him as a person who sees what is ahead, paying little heed to what is behind him.

In perhaps the most revealing moment, Schwarzenegger tells Lewis he made his mind up to run for governor while heading to an appearance on Jay Leno’s “The Tonight Show.”

“He thought, ‘This will freak them out if I go on TV and say I am going to do it,’” Lewis recalled Schwarzenegger telling him. “It was a whim.”

Lewis has also enjoyed critical and commercial success at the movies – his book “The Blind Side,” about football, was made into an Oscar-winning movie with Sandra Bullock, and his book “Moneyball,” about baseball, is a hit movie starring Brad Pitt.

Next up for the prolific Lewis is writing a script for “Liar’s Poker,” which he said would be directed by Glenn Ficara and John Requa, who directed “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

He has also written a pilot for HBO called “Strays,” a fictionalized account of a baseball agent who smuggled players from Cuba to America. “That is life-changing, if they make it,” he said of the prospect of having his own television drama.


Finland falls out of love with EU


World News –


Africa


Written by MATTI HUUHTANEN


HELSINKI (AP) — Once a timid and compliant member of the European Union, Finland has become one of its most rebellious.

The Finns have made headlines recently by threatening to pull out of a rescue plan for debt-stricken Greece and blocking Romania and Bulgaria from joining Europe’s passport-free travel zone.

The Nordic nation’s dwindling enthusiasm for European integration challenges the cohesion of the 27-nation bloc as it struggles to tackle the debt crisis.

“Finland is stepping out of line. It’s very clearly a new phenomenon,” said Jan Sundberg, professor of political science at the University of Helsinki.

The country of 5 million on the EU’s northeastern border has traditionally been more pro-EU than Nordic neighbors Denmark and Sweden and is the only country in the region to have adopted the euro as its currency.

But Finland’s affection for Europe is waning, with a survey showing that satisfaction with the EU has dropped to 37 percent earlier this year from 42 percent in 2005. Finnish business and policy forum EVA interviewed 1,918 people for the poll in January and February. It had a margin of error of 1-2 percentage points.

In April elections, the euroskeptic and populist True Finns party — which has since changed its name to The Finns — made strong gains in April elections to become the country’s third largest political group.

“Finland is seen as a troublemaker now. It’s a looming, increasing lack of solidarity with the European project,” said Marlene Wind, head of European politics at Copenhagen University. “If this spreads we’ll have a huge problem getting Europe back on track.”

After the election, Europe watched Finland’s government formation talks with grave concern, fearing The Finns would be included and stop Finland’s participation in eurozone bailouts for Greece and Portugal.

Conservative Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen in the end formed a coalition government without The Finns, but with four others, including two euroskeptic parties.

In May, Parliament approved Finnish participation in the Portugal bailout on condition that Finland be granted guarantees, or collateral, for its share of any future eurozone loans.

Last month, Finland and Greece announced they had agreed on such guarantees for Finland’s share of the Greek bailout but leading eurozone members, including Germany, insisted the 17-member currency union would jointly decide the collateral issue.

They said talks would continue with all eurozone members until a joint solution was reached.

Katainen, who is staunchly pro-EU, worried the collateral issue would tarnish the country’s reputation.

“To be honest, this will leave a mark,” Katainen said in a radio interview earlier this month. “But I believe it will be temporary and small, if we find a solution to the guarantees that won’t upset the stability of the euro and damage other eurozone members.”

Nevertheless, he is adamant that Finland will not back down from its collateral demand, or it will opt out of the Greek aid package.

To some extent the shift in attitudes can be traced to Finland’s maturity and self-confidence as an independent nation. Through most of its history it’s been occupied by its neighbors — for 600 years by Sweden and between 1809 and 1917 by Russia, with which it shares an 800-mile (1,300-kilometer) border.

It walked a precarious tightrope during the Cold War as a neutral country, submitting foreign policy decisions for Kremlin’s tacit approval in exchange for its independence.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Finland jumped at the opportunity to cement ties with the West, joining the EU in 1995 after a referendum in which a clear majority — 57 percent — voted in favor of membership.

But the perceived threat from Russia gradually subsided, while Finland’s economy emerged as one of the most stable and well-off in the EU. With Greece and Portugal needing EU bailouts, Finland’s inferiority complex toward Europe has given way to a sense that it’s being forced to pay for the financial missteps of other countries, including Greece and Portugal.

This sentiment is spearheaded by The Finns party.

“It’s about time that we’re able to talk openly about issues that matter, and our Finns party has done just that,” said Toni Paussu, a 41-year-old tour operator who voted for The Finns. “At first we were labeled as swimming against the tide, but no longer. People listen to us now and others too have the courage to speak their mind.”

Last week Finland challenged the authority of Brussels once again, joining the Netherlands in blocking entry by the EU’s newest members, Romania and Bulgaria, to the borderless “Schengen” zone, saying they needed to do more to fight corruption and organized crime.

“We are not being difficult,” Katainen insisted. “Our aim is to make sure that countries that have problems … put them in order before they are accepted into the Schengen zone.”

Simon Tilford, from the London-based Center for European Reform, said he is baffled by Finland’s rebel stance on the collateral issue, but doesn’t believe that it will inspire many others to do the same.

“I think there is a risk of the smaller members, Slovakia and a couple of others maybe attempting that, but the diplomatic and political pressure not to do so will now be very, very fierce,” he said. “It’s very hard to imagine any of the key governments opting for that route. If it was the Netherlands or Germany or France it would bring the whole thing down overnight.”

Tilford said he expects Finland to be forced to a compromise because countries like Germany and the Netherlands “cannot afford for Finland to be allowed to be seen to free-ride on the back of their painfully wrought guarantees.”

Tilford says that Finland knew what it was getting into when it adopted the euro in 2002. “Finland has made its bed, it’s gotta lie in it,” he said.



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