The Finnish government has put in motion special new legislation that would guarantee the full rights of British nationals in Finland, in the event of a deal or no-deal Brexit.
Speaking to News Now Finland on Friday morning about the latest twists of the Brexit saga, Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen (NCP) said that the new legislation would be introduced within the next two weeks.
“We have been preparing this, and we wanted to prepare before we inform, so that we don’t make a mess” says the minister.
“I am happy to announce that we agreed at the [Finnish government] EU Ministerial Committee [on Friday morning] that we will propose a new law for parliament which will enable Brits to stay in Finland at least until the end of 2020, if they just register as EU citizens before the end of March” Mykkänen explains.
“It would be a preliminary solution, so we hopefully find a final solution between the EU and UK before that. It would make it much easier and definitely clearer with the current hassles” he adds, referring to the ongoing uncertainty around Britain’s departure from the 28-nation European Union.
There are an estimated 5000 British nationals living in Finland, and with just over two months left before Brexit, authorities potentially faced a rush of last minute applicants to get residency if there’s a no-deal Brexit divorce – including some applications from people who may not have otherwise qualified for residency status.
“The new law itself will be a rather simple one, so we hope it won’t be a very long process before parliament makes up its mind. I hope there will be a national consensus around this because we really want to be welcoming to Brits, now and in the future also” says the Interior Minister, adding that he had already spoken to the Chairperson of the Administrative Committee in parliament to discuss a slick passage of the new law through the parliamentary process.
‘Negative shocks’ for Finland over Brexit
The Finnish government is still bracing for the fallout from Brexit, if Britain crashes out of the EU without the UK parliament agreeing the deal struck between Prime Minister Theresa May and EU negotiators.
The deal was voted down by British politicians last week in an historically large defeat for the government.
This week, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said that a no-deal Brexit was better than the current “chaos”.
Finnish Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen says he was surprised by those comments, but hopes that Brexit would be delayed if it came to the brink of a no-deal scenario.
“Obviously we wouldn’t regret if UK would cancel the whole exit. It would be the best solution from our point of view. The worst solution is hard Brexit without any deal. We won’t be happy if that happens” he tells News Now Finland.
“The whole hassle about private citizens, from our side, we can clear up […] but of course there are many important shocks we would face. We had a hard hit for Finnish agriculture when exports to Russia were stopped, but looking from an EU perspective, and also for UK farmers, this would be a much larger shock than the import ban for Russia” says Mykkänen.
“We will definitely see negative shocks already in the spring if things go the wrong way.”