Interior Minister Petteri Orpo says Finland is currently negotiating a second transfer of asylum seekers to Finland from southern Europe as part of the EU relocation programme agreed upon earlier this year. He says this second transfer may be Finland’s last, however, unless the EU can show some progress with its planned ‘hotspot’ processing centres.
Finland will suspend its participation in the EU internal transfer programme until the other EU Member States step up their efforts to mitigate the refugee crisis. Interior Minister Petteri Orpo said Monday in Brussels that no new transfers to Finland will be scheduled until they can be made to work on a broader EU level.
As part of his participation an EU meeting of the interior ministers today to address the refugee crisis, Orpo made plans to facilitate the second transfer of asylum seekers to Finland. The first transfer of 50 Eritreans to Finland took place on October 21st. Finland agreed to take up to 3,000 asylum seekers and lighten the load in southern Europe in the initial agreement.
“After this second transfer, we’ll take a time out and see if they make any progress on the hotspot processing centres, and if any other EU countries will join the internal transfer effort,” said Orpo.
The hotspot processing centres the minister refers to are located in Italy and Greece and are meant to serve as asylum seeker registration centres. Until now, only a handful of the 28 EU Member States have agreed to do their part via the internal transfer programme.
“There are several countries absent that haven’t even been affected much by the refugee crisis,” Orpo said.
The EU countries decided in September to distribute 120,000 asylum seekers among the Member States in an attempt to share the burden. In the first phase of the programme, the transfers were supposed to be made from the hotspot countries of Italy and Greece, but Greece has not yet been able to found even one processing centre to handle the asylum seeker registration.
Even before this, the EU had decided to transfer 40,000 asylum seekers to more northern climes, but Minister Orpo says only 198 successful transfers have been made to in all of Europe under the programme to date.