Finland’s Interior Minister, Mari Rantanen, has announced that the country will begin turning away unfounded asylum applicants at its EU border. This new measure will apply not only to migrants arriving from Russia, which is the only non-EU state bordering Finland, but also to non-EU migrants arriving by airplane.
During a press conference on Monday, Minister Rantanen stated that the Finnish government is currently developing rules that will empower border guards to determine whether asylum applications are unfounded. This decision has been taken due to concerns about the lengthy processing times for asylum applications, which can take up to six months and often occur in centers located far from the border.
If an application is deemed invalid, migrants will be removed from the country either immediately or within a four-week period. At the beginning of September, the Finnish Immigration Service reported that around 1,100 Russians were awaiting decisions on their asylum applications in Finland. This means that the new measure will primarily affect applicants coming from Russia.
Finland has already implemented measures to restrict entry from Russia. For instance, it now requires all visa applications from Russians to be filed in one office in Moscow instead of the closer city of St. Petersburg. Additionally, Finland has banned Russian-registered cars from entering the country and demanded the removal of Russian-registered vehicles already in Finland within six months.
Although the change in asylum rules mainly targets Russia, the Ministry spokesperson clarified that it will also apply to non-EU migrants arriving in Finland by plane. This decision aligns with Minister Rantanen’s previous announcement in June of a complete paradigm shift on immigration. As part of this shift, Finland plans to reduce the number of refugees it accepts through UN programs from 1,050 to 500 per year and revoke visas for refugees who return to their home countries for holidays.
Minister Rantanen cited the situation in Sweden as a reason for the change in policy, stating that Finland needs to take action to ensure that immigration does not pose economic or security threats to the country.
This latest measure by Finland reflects the growing concern among EU member states regarding the management of asylum applications and the need to establish more effective and efficient processes. By turning away unfounded asylum applicants at its border, Finland aims to streamline the system and ensure that genuine refugees receive the support they need while preventing abuse of the process.
The Finnish government’s decision also highlights the country’s commitment to prioritize its economic and security interests, striking a balance between humanitarian obligations and national priorities. As immigration continues to be a complex and sensitive issue, it is crucial for countries to find comprehensive solutions that address the needs of both refugees and their own citizens.