Activities in 2022

Dominque Deshayes visits AIACE -Finland, Finns visit Ireland

11.10.2022 by Tapani Piha

For many, the COVID pandemic now seems to be a distant past. Thanks to vaccines and improving immunity, the life has become easier but not the same as before. AIACE-Finland did not stop its activities during the hot phase of the pandemic but they were continued differently. The social innovation of remote attendance enabled interaction of members and many social activities.

The AIACE-Finland Board which met completely remotely, now meets in a hybrid way. Despite the possibility to meet at the Commission’s representation in Helsinki, nearly half of the members continue attending remotely, for various reasons.

AIACE Int President at our annual meeting

Former Director General Tiina Astola and AIACE President Dominique Deshayes at the annual meeting of AIACE-Finland 2022.

Dominique Deshayes attended the section's annual meeting, which was the first full hybrid event since 2020. Dominique Deshayes briefed the 80-strong onsite and remote audience on topical issues of pensions, JSIS and EU recruitment.

She said that 

"AIACE International has three main tasks. AIACE must follow closely and ensure the implementation of the "method" of annual revisions of wages and pensions. For all pensioners, it is important to influence issues related to JSIS. But we need to act also on general matters of European interest, such as the Conference on the Future of Europe and the Commission's new personnel strategy."

Heikki Salmi made Honorary Chairman

At the annual meeting, Heikki Salmi was made the Honorary Chairman of AIACE-Finland. 

The current president, Tapani Piha thanked Heikki for his exceptional merits saying 

"Heikki led the section skilfully and determinedly for 11 years and 10 months. Heikki created and established the framework for its activities. The activities and achievements of the association reflect Heikki's efforts: regular information to members, highly interesting events and rewarding trips."

Short trips in Finland

Longer trips abroad have been a traditional and popular activity of AIACE-Finland but the COVID made them impossible. Therefore, wished by members, the section organised a day trip to Turku in August 2021 and to Tampere in June 2022. These trips served to connect members across the country and provide cultural experiences but they also marked the easing of the COVID situation.

A wonderful week in Ireland - twice

AIACE-Finland had planned a visit to Ireland already in 2020 but it was postponed twice. In September 2022, the trip become true. Two groups, together more than 50 people, enjoyed for a week the wonders of Ireland, from Dublin to Belfast, Galway and back to Dublin, and everything in between.

The highlight of the first group was a dinner at the Killney Golf Club. AIACE Ireland’s President Jimmy McGING welcomed the guests to the section’s annual event.

The Irish history and culture became familiar thanks to our splendid guide. Historical places, current towns and cities as well as the spectacular nature at Burren, Moher, Giants Causeway, Aran and many other places put this into the context. 

Finland’s Ambassador to Ireland, Raili Lahnalampi, met both groups and gave further framework to the links between the two smaller EU member states.

The second group at the residence of the Finnish Ambassador to Ireland Raili Lahnalampi (in the middle).

PMO speaks about health screenings

PMO has entered after long negotiations into a contract for direct billing of health screenings with a country-wide healthcare provider Terveystalo ("Heath House"). AIACE’s and PMO’s interest is now to make the best use of the contract. In mid-October, AIACE-Finland collaborated with PMO on an event for all pensioners, including non-members. 

PMO's representatives presented remotely the rationale, content and practical arrangements of health screenings. A medical doctor from Terveystalo explained how to interpret the results. Over one third of our members attended (60 people onsite and 70 online) in the interactive briefing.

Addressing the declining interest in the EU career

In 2021, the discussion on the shortage of Finnish applicants in EU competitions hit the main Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. Participating in the debate, Kaija Vanonen and Tapani Piha wrote an opinion piece highlighting AIACE-Finland’s concerns and suggestions. On the practical side, Kaija Vanonen, the Board member leading the work on EU policies with other Board members, has organised events in universities.

The good news is that the Government has started a major survey on the root causes of the decline. AIACE-Finland has already contributed to the work and will continue providing its experience-based expertise.

Need to change with the times

The new normal reflects not only new technologies but also changes in our membership. 

The members of AIACE-Finland are getting older and we need to adjust our activities accordingly. 

Equally, we need to be sensitive to the ideas and values of new pensioners and work out activities of their interest. 

Technology enables participation in events from the whole country and beyond. It is not only about geographical reach. In the PMO-AIACE event on health screenings, older pensioners preferred to participate in person (50%) whereas new pensioners preferred remote attendance (80%). 

While we implement new ideas, we need to ensure that the AIACE values of friendship among former staff, EU unity, and mutual support and information stay. 

Published in VOX 123 in December 2022