Tensions mount between Estonia and Finland over travel restrictions

Finland’s ambassador was summoned by the Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas over the issue and on 9 June, Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets questioned the justification of “unclear” restrictions and asked the European Commission if they are in line with EU law.  [Shutterstock/Markus Mainka]

Travel restrictions imposed by Finland are causing tension with Estonia, as Finland’s strict COVID-19 exit strategy has only allowed commuting by air, subjecting those travelling by ferry to quarantine and leaving some 20,000 Estonian workers who have been staying in Finland without a chance to visit home and family.

Estonia has launched a high profile campaign against the restrictions, which are set to remain in place until 27 June.

Finland’s ambassador was summoned by the Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas over the issue and on 9 June, Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets questioned the justification of “unclear” restrictions and asked the European Commission if they are in line with EU law.

The Commission also received a complaint from seven Estonian MEPs complaining that the Finnish policy was disproportionate. Speakers of both countries’ parliaments have discussed the issue. On Friday, Kallas published an open and emotional letter to Finnish PM Sanna Marin in Helsingin Sanomat titled:  “Dear Sanna, I hope you have time to listen.”

Finland is currently also applying the same restrictions to Sweden, yet the situation may change already this week. The Finnish government is now considering safer means to allow travel on ferries and across land borders.

When asked by ERR news if the “Estonia-Finland bridge is undergoing repairs”, the director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, Kristi Raik said “it has been closed, at least in part. Does it need repairs […] We need to solve these current problems, and I’m sure the bridge will see us to the other side again. I would not be too pessimistic.” (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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