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Parliament Debates Finland's Immigration Policy

Parliament is debating whether Finland has put enough – or too much - emphasis on attracting foreigners to work in Finland. According to the opposition National Coalition Party, Finland should be more active in recruiting immigrants to work in fields suffering from labour shortages.

Arto Satonen of the conservative NCP, said those who have a job upon arrival adapt to life in Finland more easily.

The Left Alliance, on the other hand, warned that the parliament and government could have too much control in selecting who can move to Finland. Minna Sirnö of the Left Alliance said that too much focus could be placed on allowing only productive individuals into the country.

For their part, Christian Democrats questioned why immigrants are spoken of as labour and not as people.

According to the chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Liisa Jaakonsaari, officials have not succeeded in helping immigrants adapt to life in Finland. Nor have they helped increase tolerance and prevent racism. She pointed out that the unemployment rate of immigrants in EU countries is nearly double that of non-immigrants.

Former Labour Minister Jaakonsaari added that Finland could follow in Sweden's footsteps. In the 1970s, Sweden offered language lessons in conjunction with work to Finns moving to Sweden.

Currently Finland lacks a cohesive policy on immigration. According to the Foreign Affairs Committee, the system is in need of reform. The Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Interior share matters relating to immigration, asylum and refugee seekers, with both ministries wrestling over jurisdiction.

Faced with an aging population, the EU has only recently begun to work on a common immigration policy. Officials now realise that preventing legal immigration fuels the illegal movement of people.


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