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Agreement between Finland and Sweden to step up police cooperation in the border area

Ministry of the Interior
19.10.2021 15.59
Press release 131/2021

Finland and Sweden have signed an agreement on police cooperation in the border area in Tornionlaakso. Its purpose is to step up police cooperation between the two countries. Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo and Swedish Minister for Home Affairs Mikael Damberg signed the agreement in Tornio on Tuesday 19 October.

“Finland and Sweden have a long tradition of police cooperation. Now the aim is to further improve cooperation between the authorities and provide better access to urgent assistance in areas where cross-border interaction and cooperation are very close anyway,” says Minister of the Interior Ohisalo.

The agreement is applied in Finland in the territories of the municipalities of Enontekiö, Kolari, Muonio, Pello, Tornio and Ylitornio. In Sweden, the agreement is applied in the territories of the municipalities of Haparanda, Kiruna, Pajala and Övertorneå.

The agreement covers urgent situations related to prevention of serious crime

The agreement is applied only in urgent situations and it contains mainly two types of cooperation: measures carried out on request and without a request. A request can be made to the neighbouring country if urgent assistance is needed to prevent a serious criminal offence involving danger to the life, health or physical integrity of an individual. Such serious offences include rape, aggravated assault and homicide. However, the parties may also deny the request.

Assistance may also be provided to the neighbouring country without a separate request. In other words, police officers may cross the national border and take provisional measures in the border area to combat serious offences such as those mentioned above. This applies only if there is a risk that the danger will materialise before the host country’s police arrive.

Police officers operating in the territory of another country under the agreement must act in compliance with the host country’s legislation and within the limits of their powers under national legislation. The agreement also lays down provisions on criminal and civil liability and the liability for costs.

Nordic police cooperation at both strategic and operational level

The Nordic police authorities have been engaged in practical crime prevention cooperation for decades. Cooperation is based on international agreements, EU law and the national legislation of each country, and it is carried out at both strategic and operational level. Cooperation between the Nordic police authorities is effective and regular.

The border area between Finland and Sweden is an exceptional border area between the states, as the urban structure of the area does not respect national borders (the Tornio-Haparanda area) and cross-border interaction and cooperation in different areas of life is very close in general.

The agreement now signed is a legally binding treaty. After the signing of the agreement, a government proposal will be prepared asking Parliament to adopt the agreement and containing a bill on bringing into force the provisions of a legislative nature in the agreement. In addition, the relevant contents of the national legislation must be brought into harmony with the agreement.  

Inquiries:
Hannele Taavila, Police Director (the agreement on police cooperation in the border area), tel. +358 295 488 568, [email protected] 
Tiina Kivinen, Special Adviser (requests for interviews with Minister Ohisalo), p. +358 50 566 19 22, [email protected] 
Hanna-Leena Ainonen, developer of cross-border interaction and cooperation, Tornio-Haparanda, p. +358 40 502 11 03, [email protected]
Tuula Ajanki, executive director, Tornionlaakson Neuvosto (cross-border co-operation in Tornionlaakso), p. +358 40 614 7224, [email protected]