Aland. The Åland shipping company Birka Line, which made big losses in the previous year, sold in February the cruise ship Birka Princess to traffic outside the Baltic Sea. As a result, 250 employees were laid off.
After a long battle against the EU ban on the sale of snuff on Åland-registered vessels, Finland and Aland lost in the European Court of Justice in May. Finland had not implemented the snuff ban on the Aland. However, according to the EU Commission, the snuff ban must apply throughout Finland. As a result, Åland shipping companies fear losing passengers to Swedish-registered vessels that are authorized to sell snuff. Later in the year, the Åland Lagting passed a new tobacco law, which allowed Åland vessels to sell snuff when they are in Swedish waters.
During the year, Aland ended up in a fierce and prolonged conflict with Finland over the Åland Cash Machine Association’s (PAF) gaming business on the Internet. According to the Helsinki government, it is illegal for PAF to market itself in the “kingdom”, that is, the real Finland, which has a gaming monopoly. Negotiations in the case broke down and PAF was notified by the Ministry of the Interior. In October, President Tarja Halonen commissioned the Åland governor to mediate the conflict.