Committee appeals to restore labor migration between Estonia-Finland

A  child looking at the sea as a ferry approaches the Port of Tallinn.
A child looking at the sea as a ferry approaches the Port of Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee will send an appeal to the Finnish government to restore labor migration between Estonia and Finland which has been suspended since January.

On Wednesday, the committee decided to send the appeal to its first reading which will take place on April 22.

"Estonia and Finland have cooperated closely throughout the virus crisis in order to find solutions to emerging problems. We value this cooperation highly, and we thank the Finnish authorities for their assistance in bringing Estonian people home from third countries during the first wave of the virus," Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson (Reform) said.

He said due to the usual labour migration between Estonia and Finland having been closed down since January 27, the situation had become complicated for many Estonians.

"As labour migration is open only for representatives of certain narrow specialities, Estonian residents who work in Finland for example under employment contracts have found themselves in difficult circumstances. These thousands of people work in one country and live in the other, and many of them have not been able to come home to their families in several months," Mihkelson said.

He added that last month the committee had discussed a collective proposal on the same topic submitted to the Riigikogu, intended to ensure the possibility of cross-border commuting between Estonia and Finland.

Deputy Chairman of the Committee Jüri Luik emphasised that the problem was acute and concerned many people and families.

"In the appeal, we note that we are hoping to find confidence-building measures that would reduce the spread of the virus but would enable to restore the cross-border movement of workers between Estonia and Finland in cooperation between the two countries. If this should not be possible to the full extent, a temporary regime that would enable workers to visit their families and to return should be found in cooperation with Estonia," he said.

Finland closed the border to all but essential workers in January as Estonia's coronavirus infection rate rose, at one point being 10 times higher than Finland's. Thousands of Estonians move between the two countries, living and working in both.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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