Thursday, June 10, 2021

Estonian Representatives Urge Finland to Open Borders Urgently

Estonian authorities have once again criticised Finland, their neighbouring country, for the ongoing border closure, which according to them, is a “disproportionate and unjustified” action.

“I reaffirmed Estonia’s concern that free movement in the EU has not been restored, as some member states continue to apply restrictions to free movement that are disproportionate and unjustified, not applied horizontally, but targeting persons using specific means of transport,” Aivo Orav, Estonia’s permanent European Union representative noted.

Although Finland is a Schengen Area state, it continues imposing entry only by plane, hampering the transit of numerous Estonian citizens and residents who cross between countries regularly, reports.

“Speaking about Schengen, Estonia emphasised the importance of the free movement of people within the EU. We expect the European Commission to take further measures to ensure that the free movement within the Schengen Area will be restored urgently,” Orav added.

Estonia’s Prime Minister, Kaja Kallas, foreign minister, Eva-Marie Liimets, and two former foreign ministers, Urmas Reinsalu and Urmas Paet, as well as Estonia’s ambassador to Finland, Sven Sakkov, and his predecessor Harri Tiido, have all commented on the situation with Finland’s border regime in recent days.

In a letter directed to the European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Valean, Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Legal Affairs, Didier Reynders and Nicolas Schmidt, Commissioner for Employment, the Estonian Foreign Minister, Eva-Maria Limmets, expressed her concerns on Finland’s restriction, which allows workers to travel to the country only by air.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries have imposed various restrictions on free movement for health protection purposes. However, they must be justified and proportionate and not create practical obstacles to cross-border labour migration. Restrictions applied by the Member States which do not meet these criteria, in particular as regards labour migration, have a serious impact on the interests and rights of nationals of other Member States,” the Minister said.

Among other countries affected by the Finnish government’s decision to keep the border closed are Denmark, Germany, and Sweden, which is expected to experience a restriction relaxation due to Finland’s local elections set to occur on Sunday.

Besides Estonians being able to travel quarantine-free to Finland only by plane, for sea vessel renders, mandatory quarantine is imposed, forcing many Estonians who work in Finland to remain in their home country.

Finnair, the largest airline company in Finland, has also criticised the government’s decision to extend entry restrictions until late June by noting how much the travelling restriction has hit the tourism sector.

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