As a Member State of the European Union, Finland will take responsibility for the migratory impact of the situation in Ukraine, and especially for protecting those fleeing war. Finland is also prepared to receive beneficiaries of temporary protection transferred from other countries as a part of joint EU measures. The Government expressed its position on such transfers in a Union communication to Parliament on 12 May.
The Embassy of Ukraine in Finland has asked Finland to receive children and disabled persons transferred from Ukraine. Finland has responded to the request of Ukraine indicating that it is initially prepared to receive 20 persons of reduced mobility and their immediate family members, and 30 unaccompanied minors. Discussions and practical arrangements for the transfers will continue between the Finnish Ministry of the Interior, the Embassy of Ukraine and the Finnish Immigration Service.
Finland has also held bilateral discussions with Estonia on the need for transfers. While the current priority is to facilitate the movement of individuals independently, transfers may also become necessary at a later stage.
Many individuals displaced from Ukraine are seeking to remain close to their homeland
The Temporary Protection Directive requires EU Member States to cooperate in transferring beneficiaries of protection from one Member State to another as necessary throughout the duration of protection. Transfers may nevertheless only be made with the consent of the individuals concerned. Many people who have fled Ukraine have sought to remain close to the Ukrainian border for the time being.
Particular pressure has been experienced by Moldova, where the reception capacity has already been exceeded. This country has requested bilateral support from EU Member States. Only some 1,300 people have nevertheless been relocated from Moldova so far, even though 16 European countries have issued commitments to relocating a total of approximately 20,000 people. While Finland has also expressed its willingness in principle to transfer people from Moldova, the slow pace of implementing such transfers in that country means that concrete arrangements have yet to be made.
The importance of transfers may increase as the crisis continues
Transfers have accordingly had little impact so far on the situation of countries that have received a large influx of people feeing Ukraine. It is therefore important that these individuals should be able to seek their own countries of choice within the EU with minimal friction. Reliable information on the situation in Member States, on the opportunity to secure temporary protection, and on available transport links is essential in this respect. Several public transport companies are providing free or cut-price travel for persons displaced from Ukraine.
The importance of transfers may nevertheless increase as the crisis unfolds, due to a narrowing of opportunities for voluntary movement, and also as a consequence of overloaded reception capacities in certain countries. Certain vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities or minors with limited access to independent mobility, may already be suffering substantial impacts. Coordinated transfers will also help public authorities to forecast the need for reception services and immediately refer newcomers to temporary protection arrangements.
The Temporary Protection Directive is a single European solution
The Government’s Union communication to Parliament also serves as a report on activation of the Temporary Protection Directive in March 2022. The Temporary Protection Directive provides a uniform European solution that helps to guarantee immediate protection and a uniform status in the Member States for people fleeing the war in Ukraine. Finland is committed to providing temporary protection to persons covered by the Council Implementing Decision and the complementary Government resolution.
The resolution will remain in force until 4 March 2023. A decision to grant protection in the EU may be extended for periods not exceeding 6 months at a time, up to a maximum of 3 years in total as necessary. Protection could be terminated within a shorter period by Council decision if a change in circumstances led the EU to consider that people could return to Ukraine safely and permanently.
Iikka Saunamäki, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 29 548 8267, email@example.com (transfers to Finland)
Kukka Krüger, Chief Senior Specialist, tel. +358 29 548 8270, firstname.lastname@example.org (Temporary Protection Directive)