Liimets: Finland's restrictions hinder European Union's core values

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Estonia is concerned about Finland's new entry restrictions as they hinder Estonians who work in Finland and are in conflict with the European Union's core freedom of movement values, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) told daily newspaper Eesti Päevaleht.

"The worry is great and mainly because it is blocking one of the European Union's core values. And of course, because it affects a large number of Estonians working in Finland. And it is very sad that the Estonians working in Finland need to choose between work and seeing their families at weekends. It is in Estonia's interests to solve the issue as soon as possible," Liimets told the newspaper.

"We are working with two questions in this sense. One is for the restrictions to be relaxed before February 25, which is the current date, and that they are not extended and for us to have a solution for when the [coronavirus] situation in Estonia escalates again," she said.

As a measure of trust, Liimets highlighted potentially implementing additional coronavirus testing so that Finland does not have to worry about people arriving from Estonia.

Liimets did not give a clear answer to the question of whether Estonia will seek an evaluation from the EU about when the movement of labor is mostly suspended.

"Taking into account the good relations we have with Finland, our first goal is to speak to them and try to find a solution. I am definitely going to try to talk to the minister of foreign affairs in Finland, the issue can also be discussed between the prime ministers," Liimets said.

At the end of January, Finland introduced new border restrictions that only allowed essential workers to enter the country. As thousands of Estonians work in Finland but live in Estonia, this is a big problem for the Estonian government.

Currently, Estonia has a much higher 14-day infection rate than Finland which has worried the Finnish government. While Estonia's rate is 529.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, Finland's is under 100 and is one of the lowest in Europe.  

Both the foreign minister and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) have held discussions with Finnish politicians to try and resolve the matter and the Riigikogu's Estonia-Finland working group is also trying to find a solution.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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