All the EU countries now have the right since about March to send fines to other EU countries for collection. Cooperation, however, has been slow to start up between countries. In France, for example, about 2 million Germans are caught on camera speeding each year. Soon, France will have a reputation as a place where you can drive as fast as you want without any consequences, if they don’t start doing something. There are similar problems elsewhere. Finland is soon to have unique problems of its own.
In the case of Finland, we are on a clear collision course with this new law. With the current legislation, where day fines are liberally applied in all sorts of minor infractions, one of two things can happen:
1. Finland actually succeeds in getting the income information about some high income person from another EU country who was caught speeding here on camera. A fine for a 5 or 6 figure number is sent over. Outrage in the press follows. The fine will probably be ignored or go to court and be overturned or lowered to a normal level (a few hundred Euros). The person may be shocked have his or her income exposed in the international media, probably together with their picture in the expected, tasteless Finnish style. More court cases for privacy invasion may follow in the person’s own country and perhaps even in an international court involving Finland. (Income information is considered very private in the rest of the EU countries.) Investigations may be launched and Finland may be accused of corruption. The case may go to the European Court of Justice or to the European Commission.
Basically, it would achieve a similar result as if Finland fired a missile into that country.
2. Finland will quietly give “normal fines” (meaning fixed fines for a hundred or few hundred Euros) to foreigners caught on camera here and nationally discriminate against its own people, which will also eventually lead to outrage, a press heyday, and possible legal repercussions.
Conclusion 1: The current Day Fine system in Finland is doomed.
What should be done now? For starters, the day fine system needs to be junked ASAP. Day fines should only be used to punish serious offenses that warrant actual jail time as a monetary substitute for the jail time. Then, the holes in the legislation allowing this kind of thing to happen need to be plugged. The current Finnish day fine system is a brainchild of the tax-calendar generation. These are people who have spent a lot of time staring at lists of each others’ incomes and wealth. Someone gets a speeding ticket and wah! wah!, he has so much money, he should pay more, wah!, wah!. It’s not fair, wah!, wah!. And voilÃƒÂ , soon we have this kind of legislation that comes and bites us in the arse later. The tax calendars were stopped because of the amount of complaints and the problems it was causing from a decision in the tax authority in about 1984. So why do we have something like Veropörssi again nowadays? Its like a dog that returns to its own puddle of vomit to eat it – we are in the same place again. The holes in the legislation were not plugged.
The old Swedish custom the Swedish crown used of getting peasant farmers to police each others tax paying is sort of irrelevant nowadays, isn’t it? Or do the people in that tax office use an abacus to count peoples’ taxes? Is it really the neighbour’s business to police my income and tax records? Should our incomes be in Veropörssi, floating around in the Internet?
Conclusion 2: The tax records need to be made private. The only possible exception should be with politicians, only after signing a letter of consent before taking office.
Finnish article in Helsingin Sanomat regarding EU fines, with some interesting discussion. It is all in Finnish, unfortunately for those who don’t speak it.