Ministry of the Interior to prepare introduction of border procedure
The Ministry of the Interior has set up a project to examine and prepare legislative amendments to enable the introduction of the border procedure in Finland. The border procedure would allow the processing of potentially unfounded asylum applications immediately at the border or in its vicinity. This would prevent asylum applicants from travelling within Finland or from Finland to other EU countries.
The border procedure would mean that each application is investigated individually, thoroughly and fairly, as is the case with all asylum applications. The project will assess different alternative solutions and their impacts on fundamental and human rights in relation to the Finnish Constitution, other national legislation, EU legislation and Finland's international human rights obligations. It will also examine how the new regulations would affect the status and rights of individuals.
The project will run from 15 March 2022 to 31 March 2023. The Ministry of the Interior is preparing the project in close cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, the Finnish Immigration Service and the National Police Board. The government proposal is due to be submitted to Parliament during the autumn session 2022.
Border procedure would strengthen preparedness for hybrid influence activities
A working group led by the Ministry of the Interior recently evaluated the legislation of the Ministry’s branch of government and the need to amend it to prepare for hybrid influence activities that exploit migration. The context for the working group’s report, published in February, was the influence measures of Belarus, which were targeted against Poland, Latvia and Lithuania in autumn 2021.
The Finnish asylum legislation is largely based on EU legislation, and Finland has implemented the EU legislation fairly comprehensively in areas left to the Member States’ discretion. However, the working group discussed in its report certain means available in the EU legislation that, if implemented in Finland, would likely bring additional tools for managing situations created by hybrid influence activities. One of these tools is border procedure.
As a response to Belarus’ activities, the European Commission presented a set of proposals where border procedure is given as one means of responding to instrumentalisation of migrants and of managing migrants who have already entered the country.
The working group led by the Ministry of the Interior focused in its report on legislation governing normal conditions, in which powers related to disruption of normal conditions should be enacted as a matter of priority. It is important to examine the means proposed in the report for developing legislation in more detail without delay.
Many ways to respond to instrumentalisation of migrants
There is a variety of different types of operative, legal, diplomatic and economic means for responding to the instrumentalisation of migrants. Diplomacy is the primary means of responding when a foreign state exerts political pressure by exploiting migrants. However, legislation must be clear and the authorities must have sufficient powers to act pre-emptively and respond effectively to such influence activities.
Finland has already taken versatile ways of precaution to prepare for hybrid influence activities that exploit migrants. International and human rights obligations do not prevent Finland from adopting effective measures to manage the situation at its external border. These measures could help prevent people from accessing Finland uncontrollably by exploiting large numbers or force, among other means. One such measure could be the closing of border crossing points for a fixed period or until further notice should this be necessary for reasons of security or public health.