A scenario in which at least 3,000 foreign citizens arrive in Estonia, in small groups of several dozen people at a time, would take on the dimensions of an emergency situation, a risk analysis of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) shows.
The Baltic News Service reported on Monday morning that Estonia will adopt a directive of the European Union that enables a member state to change the requirements concerning the apprehension of foreign citizens in times of crisis.
New law would allow PPA to scale back applicants' rights and entitlements
The arrival of an exceptionally large amount of foreign entrants to the country would put a large burden on the capacity of the centres set up to receive them, the letter of explanation of a bill currently in the works at the Ministry of the Interior states.
The bill would allow longer periods of time for authorities to check the legality of the apprehension of an entrant to the country without a legal basis. It would also make it possible to arrest people outside an apprehension centre without a legal basis, and to suspend the legal requirements to house family members together.
In addition, the new law would also allow a reduction in the amount and scope of services provided to illegal immigrants, calling such a measure "reasonable" in a state of emergency.
PPA: State of emergency would seriously drain authorities' resources
In Estonia's specific case and according to the PPA, solving such a crisis would require the police to reshuffle its internal resources, and to involve international partners if needed, and allow the involvement of officials of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) as well as the European Asylum Support Office in carrying out return and international protection proceedings.
The main aim of the bill is to implement distinctions in the relevant legal acts that in a state of emergency caused by mass immigration, the authorities would be enable to deviate from the guarantees and services provided for those applying for international protection, or foreigners in the country without a legal basis.
Estonia nowhere near 3,000 arrivals
Estonia initially pledged to accept 550 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece under the EU migrant relocation and resettlement plan agreed upon in 2015.
In accordance with the European Commission proposal from September 2017 concerning the resettlement of a further 50,000 people, Estonia agreed to accept an additional 80 refugees within the framework of the new program over the next two years.
Estonia has accepted 206 so-called quota refugees since 2015, and regards that plan as having been conclusively fulfilled. Thus, the maximum number of people that Estonia is set to accept under the two plans combined is 286. To actually reach the number set out in the working papers to the new bill, the number of applications would virtually have to explode.
Editor: Dario Cavegn
Source: BNS, ERR