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Amendments to the Border Guard Act help prepare for hybrid influence activities that exploit migration

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 9.6.2022 13.42 | Published in English on 9.6.2022 at 16.04
Press release

Border security will be strengthened by improving the ability of the Finnish Border Guard to prepare for and respond to incidents under normal conditions. The proposed amendments will also improve the Border Guard’s preparedness for emergency conditions. The Border Guard Act will be amended to help prepare for hybrid influence activities that exploit migration, for example. The Government submitted the proposal for amending the Board Guard Act to Parliament on 9 June. The amendments are scheduled to enter into force as soon as possible.

According to the proposal, the reception of asylum applications could be centralised at separately designated border crossing points at Finland’s national border. The Government could decide to centralise the reception of applications if necessary to prevent a serious threat to public order, national security or public health arising from an exceptionally large number of people entering the country over a short period of time or from the instrumentalisation of migration.

Crossing the border from places other than through open border crossing points is already prohibited.

“The situation at the border is currently calm, but preparations have been made for possible incidents. The amendment to the Border Guard Act is one of the Government’s many measures to strengthen our border security. Earlier this spring, we allocated additional funding to the Border Guard for technical surveillance, increasing the number of border guards and purchasing new surveillance aircraft,” says Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen.

New regulation on construction of barriers and transfer of property

Supplementary provisions on building barriers in the border zone would also be added to the Border Guard Act. By building barriers, such as fences, it would be possible to better prepare for various threats endangering border security.

The regulation would also cover the construction of necessary trails and roads, removal of trees and other vegetation, and the necessary earthmoving and hydraulic works. A permit would be needed to build buildings, fences and similar structures near the barriers if they could potentially hinder patrol and other operations of the Border Guard that are necessary for maintaining border security.

“The Government will later make decisions on barriers to critical areas of the eastern border on the basis of a report by the Border Guard,” Minister Mikkonen says.

In addition, a provision on the transfer of property and the provision of services to the Border Guard in return for compensation would be added to the Border Guard Act.

Several legislative amendments to strengthen border security

Besides amending the Border Guard Act, border security will also be strengthened through other legislative amendments. The Emergency Powers Act is applied in emergency conditions. The proposal for amending the Emergency Powers Act, prepared by the Ministry of Justice, is currently being discussed by Parliament. It proposes adding hybrid influence activities to the list of grounds for declaring emergency conditions.

Border security will also be strengthened by an amendment to the Aliens Act concerning the border procedure. The border procedure would allow the processing of potentially unfounded asylum applications immediately at or near the border. This would prevent asylum applicants from travelling within Finland or from Finland to other EU countries. The government proposal for amending the Aliens Act is expected to proceed to Parliament within the next few weeks.

Finland is preparing for hybrid influence activities both in the short and long term

The Government report on changes in the security environment states that as the security environment changes, Finland is preparing for the possibility of becoming a target of exceptional, extensive and multifaceted hybrid influence activities both in the short and long term.

It can be presumed that the number of people seeking to enter Europe will continue to be high, and that migration will be used as a means of political pressure. Clear legislation and sufficient powers of the authorities to act proactively and effectively in the event of incidents enable us to prepare for hybrid influence activities that instrumentalise migration.

Sanna Palo, Chief of Legal Division, tel. +358 29 421 601, [email protected]
Anne Ihanus, Senior Adviser for Legislative Affairs, tel. +358 295 421 608, [email protected]
Mikko Jalo, Special Adviser, tel. +358 295 5488 553, [email protected] (requests for interviews with Minister Mikkonen)