EU Asylum Seekers' Applications on Fast Track
YLE (Finland), May 13, 2010
The Finnish Immigration Service intends to continue the speedy processing of asylum seekers' applications from the EU. In April, the agency began the quick processing on a trial basis. The trial period is to end this month.
Since launching the trial, officials have noted a drop in the number of asylum seekers from Bulgaria. In April, the Immigration Service began making decisions on applications from EU citizens on the same day applicants were interviewed by police.
Esko Repo, the director of the asylum unit at the Immigration Service, says the new protocol has had an effect particularly on the number of Bulgarians seeking asylum.
'During the second half of last year, over 700 Roma people from Bulgaria applied for asylum in Finland. In January, that number was around 100. In late spring, the number has been 30 to 50 per month,' says Repo.
In April, over 50 Roma people from Romania applied for asylum in Finland. The number has been lower this month.
Repo says the speedy processing of those applications will continue. He adds that word of Finland's fast application processing will spread quickly among asylum seekers in varies countries.
EU citizens cannot be granted asylum in Finland. However, they have the right to social benefits for as long as their applications are processed. It's expected that the number of EU citizens seeking asylum in Finland will taper off once they can no longer receive benefits.