Finland could request support from the EU Agency for Asylum in the event of mass influx of migrants
New provisions to be added to the Aliens Act and the act on migration authorities’ processing of personal data will enable Finland to make use of the support from the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) as smoothly as possible in the event of a mass influx of migrants. The Government submitted the bills for approval on Thursday 8 September. The President of the Republic is to approve the bills for the acts on Friday. The acts will enter into force on 15 September.
If necessary, the EU Agency for Asylum can be asked to send support teams consisting of EUAA staff members and officials from other EU countries to Finland. The possible submission of the request will be decided at the government plenary session. The Finnish Immigration Service will prepare an action plan with the Executive Director of the EUAA and act as the national contact point for the support teams.
The EUAA replaced the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in January 2022, when the relevant EU Regulation entered into force. The Regulation is directly applicable in Finland. In order for its application to be as effective as possible, provisions on the parties responsible for submitting and coordinating the request for support are laid down nationally.
Similarly, the members of the support teams must have the power and possibilities to provide assistance in Finland. The Aliens Act and the act on migration authorities’ processing of personal data will be amended so that the support team members can participate in asylum investigations and have access to the necessary information.
A mass influx of migrants is a situation in which reception centres for asylum seekers, including additional accommodation, are reaching maximum capacity and the capacity needs to be further expanded, as there is a constant influx of new migrants. Such a situation may arise gradually or abruptly, because of the massive displacement of people from a country towards Finland, for example.
Preparedness will be strengthened through a number of legislative amendments
A mass influx of migrants may also be arranged by a foreign state, which is known as instrumentalisation of migrants. Diplomacy is the primary means of responding to such political pressure. However, legislation must be clear and the authorities must have sufficient powers to act pre-emptively and respond effectively to such influence activities.
Amendments to the Border Guard Act that will improve preparedness for incidents entered into force in July. For example, the reception of asylum applications can be centralised at separately designated border crossing points if it is necessary to prevent a serious threat to public order, national security or public health.
At the same time, an update of the Emergency Powers Act, prepared by the Ministry of Justice, entered into force. In the amendment, hybrid influence activities were added to the list of grounds for declaring emergency conditions.
The Ministry of the Interior has also prepared a proposal for the introduction of a border procedure, which is currently being discussed by Parliament 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.
Sanna Montin, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 314, [email protected]