The Finnish government has updated its Action Plan for the Prevention of Irregular Entry and Stay for the period 2021–2024. The purpose of the plan, consisting on 52 actions, is to comprehensively address irregular entry and stay, cross-border crime and the emergence of a parallel society on the fringe of Finnish society.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, the action plan also examines the status of those residing in the country without a right to stay, the phenomena of abuse associated with them and their vulnerability to human trafficking.
Irregular entry and stay remain low in Finland compared to all immigration. The coronavirus pandemic has reduced movement even further.
“People who stay in the country without a residence permit face the risk of becoming excluded, of committing crimes and of being exploited by criminals themselves, even to the point of becoming victims of human trafficking. For this reason, in the interests of both society and individuals, Finland should strive to comprehensively prevent the emergence of a parallel society,” says Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo.
The updated action plan includes 52 actions at both strategic and operational levels, the responsibility of which falls on a number of different authorities: actions in the countries of origin and transit, actions at the border, actions in Finland, actions to promote return, and actions concerning those without a right of stay in the country. Some of these actions require further studies and possible legislative amendments.
Actions will have a comprehensive impact on various stages of migration
In many respects, the actions concern existing official duties and the further development of these. Especially at national level, cross-administrative cooperation and the exchange of information play a key role.
The Ministry of the Interior says it is also important for Finland to be "actively involved in EU cooperation," as the results achieved are often more effective than the national measures taken by a small Member State.
“We need to make sure that the measures are both effective and humane at the same time. The cross-cutting principles of the Action Plan include safeguarding fundamental and human rights, improving the detection of trafficking in human beings and identifying vulnerable people. We also have to pay particular attention to safeguarding the best interests of the child,” says Kirsi Pimiä, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior.
Police to monitor operations
This is the fourth national action plan for the prevention of irregular entry and stay. It has taken full account of the measures set out in the previous action plans and the related points in the government programme.
The Ministry of the Interior will monitor the implementation of strategic and ministry-level measures, while a working group for the prevention of irregular entry, consisting of public officials led by the National Police Board, will monitor the implementation of operational actions.
Government emphasizes that most people enter the EU legally for family-related reasons or for work, and only a small fraction of people enter the EU illegally. Likewise, most people move legally to Finland on the basis of work, family ties and studies.
The previous action plan for 2017–2020 focused on the change in the operating environment, which resulted in a rapid increase in the number of asylum seekers in 2015–2016.