Finland's role in the development Europe is at the forefront in the panel discussions organised by the University of Turku and its partners in the Turku Europe Forum. The first day of the Forum on Wednesday, 24 August, focuses on science, and the panellists address numerous questions, such as whether Finland needs its own drug development, what kind of change are Europeans facing in energy production and consumption, where are the borders of Europe, and what is the state of the Archipelago Sea. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided to Finnish-English-Finnish in the live events at Radisson Blu Marina Palace and Turku City Theatre.
Does Finland need its own drug development and manufacturing or will Europe take care of us even in the event of a crisis? Is the security of medicine supply guaranteed? These and other topics will be discussed in the InFLAMES research flagship's panel discussion at the science day of the Turku Europe Forum on 24 August at 11.30am–12.15pm.
The members of the panel include Liisa Hurme, who was selected as the CEO of the pharmaceutical company Orion, Professor of Virology Ilkka Julkunen from the University of Turku, Member of the European Parliament Sirpa Pietikäinen, and Professor of Biochemistry Tiina Salminen from Åbo Akademi University. The moderator is Reijo Salonen, a visiting professor at the InFLAMES flagship.
Professor Salonen belives that the obligatory storing of medicine in Finland is a good basis for ensuring the security of medicine supply. Pharmaceuticals companies, importers, health care units and the National Institute for Health and Welfare are legally obligated to maintain a storage in case of crises.
“By living here in the northernmost part of Europe, we have understood that we need to store medicine in case we are isolated for some reason and cannot get the necessary materials. However, the problem remains that how can we prepare for a situation where the obligatory storages will only last for a certain amount of time?”
Salonen notes that the acquisition of raw pharmaceutical materials is highly dependent on China and that most of the generic drugs come from India. If China decided to limit the export of these raw materials, the situation could become very difficult very quickly.
The connection between Finnish drug manufacturing and the availability of medicine is obvious, but do we need our own drug development and research to support the security of supply? Reijo Salonen thinks that the answer is clear, although not straightforward.
Sirpa Pietikäinen participated in drafting a joint pharmaceutical strategy for Europe and she says that the EU has been in pains for over a decade to decide what to do with the pharmaceutical industry’s dependence on China and India. Pietikäinen also asks what would happen if the obligatory storages run out.
“We need to have some kind of a plan B and it should be based on joint crisis preparation by the European countries. No one can manage alone, we need mutual distribution of work. The coronavirus was a serious wake-up call to reality as the European countries went after their own interests in obtaining vaccinations, but we cannot act that way again.”
Pietikäinen continues that Finnish drug development should and must be continued. “We have expertise in many things, it would be foolish to let our strengths wane. However, from a European point of view and from that of the distribution of work, we have to consider if it necessary to do everything ourselves. It is a good topic for discussion.”
Universities’ Future Discussed during Science Day
The University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University also organise together the panel discussion “Surrounded by borders, Europe without borders” starting at 1pm on 24 August. The panel is moderated by Professor of Political Science Henri Vogt and the participants are Senior Researcher Saila Heinikoski from the Institute of Foreign Policy, Researcher Teemu Rantanen from the University of Turku, University Lecturer Hanna Tuominen from the University of Helsinki, and Professor Markku Suksi from Åbo Akademi University. With the lead of Henri Vogt from the JuRe project, the panellists discuss whether the idealistic concept of open European borders still works in the current situation characterised by war and the pandemic.
The universities are also organising a discussion "Local meets global in the European energy transition: Offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea" at 10am at the Marina Palace and, at the same time, students of the University of Turku are presenting a municipal report on the protection of the Archipelago Sea.
The last session on the science day is the panel discussion “European strategy for universities, European university alliances and cooperation: Impact on university development?” and it starts at 4pm. Rector Mikael Lindfelt from Åbo Akademi University moderates the discussion and the participants are Rector Jukka Kola of the University of Turku, Chair of the Finnish Union of University Professors Jukka Heikkilä, Board Member of the National Union of University Students in Finland SYL Jenna Rautionaho, Senior Specialist in higher education and science policy Birgitta Vuorinen at the Finnish Embassy in London, Rector of the University of Barcelona Joan Guárdia Olmos, and Deputy Minister for Education from the Higher Education, Science and Research Section of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Professor Radka Wildová.
Top Political Discussions
After the science day, the Europe Forum continues with high-level political debates. At 11am on Friday, 26 August, Director of the Centre for Parliamentary Studies of the University of Turku Markku Jokisipilä is moderating an EU-political prime ministers’ debate with Prime Minister, Chair of Social Democratic Party of Finland Sanna Marin, Chair of National Coalition Party Petteri Orpo, Chair of Finns Party Riikka Purra, and Minister of Finance, Chair of Centre Party Annika Saarikko.
At noon at the Turku City Theatre, Professor of Practice Anders Blom of the University of Turku moderates a discussion “Finland´s traditional Russia policy is a thing of the past: what to replace it with?” The panel includes Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, Minister of Education Li Andersson, and Ambassador René Nyberg.
Europe Forum in a Nutshell
- The Europe Forum in Turku is an event for discussion around the future of Finland and Europe. The event promotes open, science-based dialogue between citizens and policymakers. The Europe Forum consists of seminars, panel discussions, question times, and civil dialogue sessions.
- This summer, the Forum is organised again in Turku as a hybrid event on 24–26 August 2022.
- The main venues are the Radisson Blu Marina Hotel, Turku City Theatre, Hansatori and the Forum’s own virtual event platform.
- Apart from the programme organised at the Kansalaistori at Hansatori, the Europe Forum programme is streamed live and will later be available as recordings at event page: https://event.prospectumlive.com/europeforum. The page opens on 22 August.
- It is also possible to attend the live event by registering. The registration opens on the Europe Forum website www.europeforum.fi on Monday, 15 August at 12pm. Please note that there is a limited number of seats.
- Simultaneous interpretation will be provided to Finnish-English-Finnish in the live events at Radisson Blu Marina Palace and Turku City Theatre.
Photo: Jaska Poikonen, City of Turku
InFLAMES Flagship is a joint initiative of University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Finland. It aims at identifying new targets for drug development and engaging in drug development together with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. InFLAMES also develops diagnostics so that targeted therapies can be designed for individual patients.