Finnish Immigration Concerns


Hopefully The Finns party hangs tough.

boat people

Gov’t split on EU refugee transfers

A request from the EU Commission for member states to accept more of the refugees currently arriving in Greece and Italy has provoked a split in the Finnish government. Finns Party ministers filed a dissenting opinion after the ministerial EU committee decided that Finland could accept some migrants from southern EU states.

Afgaanimies katselee vastaanottopistettä, joka on koristeltu jouluisin tontuin.
Refugees could soon arrive in Finland from the Mediterranean after the government agreed to internal transfers of asylum seekers. Image: Mikko Haapanen/ YLE

The Finnish government has agreed its line for the upcoming EU summit, and it is ready to accept some of the migrants currently in Greece and Italy after clandestine crossings of the Mediterranean. The government’s EU ministerial committee agreed the line at a meeting on Wednesday morning, but two Finns Party ministers filed a dissenting opinion.

Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö and Employment Minister Jari Lindström asked the meeting to record their opinion, which held that “internal transfers can only proceed on a voluntary basis. We take a negative view of internal transfers.”

The Commission has asked EU states to accept over the next two years some 40,000 people who are in need of temporary shelter. Finland’s share would be around 800 people, or 400 per year.

Finland’s new coalition government had come to a compromise position on asylum and immigration policy in the government programme, agreeing that some 750 quota refugees would be taken each year, a reduction of 300 on this year’s total and a retreat back to the number accepted before the Syrian crisis.

The 400 refugees each year set to arrive from Mediterranean countries would be in addition to those 750, giving a total of 1,150.

Gov’t agrees to maintain quota refugee cap

Meanwhile Interior Minister Petteri Orpo announced Wednesday that the government had backtracked on a decision to reduce the intake of quota refugees from 1,050 to 750.

Earlier in June the government said that it would reduce the cap on quota refugees in order to comply with possible EU demands for Finland to accommodate refugees transferred from other EU states.

Orpo said that the cabinet’s EU ministerial committee – including Finns Party ministers – had agreed unanimously to de-link the quota refugee intake from possible EU transfer refugees.

The minister explained that the previous decision had primarily been driven by financial considerations, which he said was not the most appropriate approach for the situation.

He noted however that a final decision on the quota refugee intake would be taken in the autumn. But he said that the fundamental understanding was that at minimum, it would be based on the level agreed in 2014.


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