Government trying to reach workers movement agreement with Finland

Passengers at Tallinn ferry terminal.
Passengers at Tallinn ferry terminal. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The ministries of foreign affairs and the interior are trying secure free movement of workers between Estonia and Finland, similar to the agreement already in place between Latvia and Estonia. Movement has been temporarily halted after restrictions were put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Finland suspended all people entering from abroad due to the coronavirus crisis from last Saturday. This is a problem for Estonia as thousands of workers, sometimes known as pendulum workers, travel back and forth to live and work between the two countries. The restrictions only do not apply to people who work in healthcare or transport goods. 

Veiko Kommusaar, undersecretary of internal security, law enforcement and migration policy at the Ministry of the Interior, told ERR: "The free movement of services and workers is guaranteed with Latvia. We are also trying to achieve this with Finland. At the same time, the solution largely depends on the level and prognosis of the virus,"

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said consultations are held with Finland every week at the level of working groups which discuss issues related to the crisis. "But, so specifically, the reopening of cross-border movement of workers has not yet been discussed," counsellor in the communications department Kairi Saar-Isop told ERR.

There are no in-depth meetings like this with Latvia as the movement of workers is already guaranteed there, she noted.

Kommusaar said: "The situation in Estonia and neighboring countries is constantly changing and we also react constantly according to the situation. Decisions to end restrictions of the emergency situation are made by the government and if quick decisions are needed, by the Prime Minister as the head of the emergency situation."

Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) told ERR representatives of the Nordic and Baltic countries have agreed to start exchanging information on crisis exit strategies but the movement of workers will not be raised in the next few days.

"We have exchanged general information to work with the Latvian and Finnish foreign ministers on the exit strategy. Have we agreed on anything? No, certainly not, because all countries are still in the growth phase of the virus, although this growth has slowed down. But it is definitely wise to cooperate," said Reinsalu.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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