Paavo Väyrynen Would Scrap Schengen, Impose EU Border Checks

Commemorative mug featuring Paavo Väyrynen and his wife Vuokko, sold as part of his presidential election fundraising campaign

Presidential candidate Paavo Väyrynen says he wants to restore the EU’s internal border controls.

In a new interview with STT Finnish News Agency, the veteran politician describes the current Schengen system of free movement between 26 European countries as “mistake”.

“The Schengen system has proved to be ineffective and should be changed. It was originally an idealistic idea and mistake of the federalists” says Väyrynen.

“It has now become apparent that due to the immigration crisis and the fight against crime and terrorism, border checks should be restored” he says.

Väyrynen also says he would put asylum seekers in refugee camps outside the EU and only let those people in whose asylum cases are approved.

He says the refugees “would be well cared for” and this proposed system would cut down on people smuggling.

Finland’s president’s powers do not include deciding EU border control nor asylum policy.

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As Väyrynen has set up his own political movement, which is not represented in parliament, he had to collect 20,000 voter signatures to endorse his presidential bid.

At one point in the autumn, it looked like he would fall short, and Väyrynen said he would quit politics if he didn’t make it to the election. However, with a last minute push he was able to get 27,000 signatures.

Väyrynen has been involved in Finnish politics for more than 50 years, elected as a member of parliament for the first time in 1970. Since then he has been an MP, MEP, local councilor, cabinet minister, Chairman of the Centre Party, and three-time presidential candidate. He also has extensive business interests.

At his last outing in the the 2012 presidential elections, Värynen failed to make it to the second round of voting.