18:00 . To be honest I accidentally ended up here – I did not want to change the world or something. I had no intention of even going abroad since I thought life in Finland was kind of okay. But then I got an offer I became an economist at the Commission. You are right, technically I am like a messenger, since what I am doing is representing my country that is true – I get the political line from Helsinki and I interpret this to my colleagues in the EU sphere. My job entails a lot of communication : explaining to people what we want and trying to understand what they want, and communication is super difficult, especially that I need to communicate something not so easy to sell. (economics). It is also super difficult for the commission to communicate what’s going on to the outside world, or to other member states.
So far I have always refused to prepare notes before a meeting, but at the same time I find speaking in meetings quite scary. I always felt, if I’m an expert in my field then I would be able to talk about the issue that has been on my table 24/7. But what if I’m out of the situation for a minute and then I say something off topic ? It is scary to say something ‘on behalf of my country’, especially if it is the wrong thing ! I get stressed that if I raise my eyes from the paper I will basically see the other 27 member states looking at me and writing down what I say. That is scary !
So, I started preparing notes, like everyone else. I hate it but I feel I have to. I simply wish there were less interventions and more dialogues in meetings. Sometimes I attend meetings where I feel people don’t understand each other at all. I don’t know if it is a language issue , it may be an issue of people reciting words they have prepared but that no one else understands. The conversation is missing, there is no dialogue as I’d like it to be. How can we properly work together if there is no dialogue ?
Hey – maybe I simply haven’t seen where the dialogue takes place ! Or maybe my dialogue skills are so lousy that I don’t recognise when it happens. (He laughs)
I wish it was more like: there is no agenda, we just talk to each other and not just talk. I say something you say something, we move from one topic to another exactly like it is right now : you and me.
I think alcohol consumption and the excessive use of substances, is still a taboo topic in our society. I was shocked when I saw the alcohol consumption figures : when it comes to smoking, the consumption is going down but when it comes to alcohol the consumption is still super high. I make a lot of jokes about drinking alcohol but I actually reduced my consumption quite a lot, especially when I saw the official figures given by the Commission. I’m going to tell you a sad story : when I was younger, we were living in a farm, in the Finnish countryside and we had these neighbours, a couple and they were drinking pretty much all the time. I was really young back then- something like five or six years old. One evening, there was a storm and their building completely burned down. Nobody died, nothing happened to the couple but from what I heard back then – I was 5 or 6 – the guy had forgotten a candle or something and that started the fire during the stormy night. The neighbour, the man – he felt so guilty for causing the fire that he committed suicide. The widow – I know for a fact that the has been drinking a lot since then. It is getting better nowadays, especially for the younger generation, they are no longer as isolated thanks to social media and the rise of the Internet. They are drinking less and less. But the older generation is still consuming a lot of alcohol. No, I don’t think there a link between the alcohol consumption rate and the suicide rate, because the suicide rate has actually declined, whereas the alcohol consumption is still super high. This topic is unfortunately also taboo within the EU bubble – when it shouldn’t be. I had a colleague – I did not know him that well , but to me it seems that he was always absent. When his contract ended, we found out that he had drinking problems, but as a unit we had no idea how to deal with it. A lot of people suffer from such problems and they need support, because it can happen to anyone. As a society and as human beings we need to be able to deal with this.
We are the happiest people in the world in Finland ! It changes nowadays whether it is Finland or Denmark but the fact is that our quality of life is good and we enjoy a lot of freedoms that other people do not even dream of. Yet, no system is perfect.