Frequently asked questions about the eastern border barrier fence
In Finland, the terrain and weather conditions are demanding. The terrain varies and can present significant challenges for construction, and the Finnish winter is long.
In addition, it is best to implement the construction of the fence through multiple, reasonably-sized contracts, and it is not just a matter of building a road and a fence, but also of installing technical surveillance apparatus.
Also, and before anything else can be done, there all hundreds of property owners within the border zone who must be contacted and notified in accordance with the Border Guard Act.
Finally, a lot of time must also be reserved for the project’s tendering process. Due to all of these factors, the construction will take several years.
We want to use the pilot to comprehensively examine the management and implementation of the barrier fence project, including aspects such as competitive tendering and negotiations with landowners on the expropriation of land.
The pilot is not required for testing the actual fence or the road that runs adjacent to it. We know that they can be built well
If necessary, the construction of the pilot can begin this year. The objective is to complete the pilot in the summer of 2023. The cost of the pilot is 6 million euros.
Other solutions, such as increasing staff and technical surveillance, are neither cheaper nor as effective in reducing dependence on Russia. For example, if large-scale illegal entry took place in the absence of a barrier fence, nearly a thousand extra border guards would be needed. Training such a large number of staff would take around ten years, and these staff would not then be utilised in normal conditions.
A barrier fence at the eastern border is needed in the current security situation, as it prevents illegal entry, speeds up the detection and apprehension of person crossing the border illegally, enables the prevention of large-scale and instrumentalised entry, and enhances regional surveillance and the prevention of territorial violations.
A physical barrier fence is essential in situations of widespread immigration, where it serves to slow down and guide the movements of any crowds that form.
A barrier fence will boost the Border Guard’s border control capacity at the eastern border during normal conditions, disturbances and emergency conditions.
The barrier fence will not prevent asylum seekers from applying for asylum. On the contrary, it will allow asylum seekers arriving by land to more quickly obtain official assistance.
A barrier fence is necessary in order to manage situations where asylum applications are concentrated at one or more border crossing points. Such situations could involve, for example, an exceptionally large number of migrants arriving in a short space of time or the instrumentation of migration by a state or another party.
The decision of concentrating asylum applications is made by the Government.
The purpose of a fence is to reveal, block and slow down crowds of people and also guide their movements. Even if people skirt the fence, it still fulfils its task by slowing down illegal entry and helping the authorities' to manage the situation. In Poland, for example, the crowds of people attempting to enter focused more on trying to break or scale the fence rather than going around it.
Fencing the entire land border would be neither cost-effective nor sensible. A significant portion of Finland’s border is difficult for large groups of people to reach.
The plans involve building the barrier fence in areas where, based on a risk analysis, the need is likely to be greatest.
This matter is covered in sections 50 and 50a of the Border Guard Act (578/2005). The owner or holder of land or water areas within the border zone are obliged to permit i) the construction of a fence or other barrier, at the state’s expense, if this is necessary for the maintenance of border management (border barrier), ii) the construction of the barrier trail, iii) the removal of trees and other vegetation that hinder the construction and maintenance of the barrier, the barrier trail, or the border road and iv) the carrying out of essential earthmoving and water construction work.
Border barriers may not be constructed in areas of domestic peace as defined in chapter 24 and section 11 of the Penal Code. Under international agreements binding on Finland, fair compensation shall be paid to the owner or holder of the land or water area for the damage and inconvenience caused by a border barrier constructed elsewhere than at the edge of the open area at the Finnish border.
Decisions made under sections 50 and 50a can be appealed at the Administrative Court. The decisions can be enforced, however, even if such an appeal has been made.
Animals will be able to enter through unfenced areas or through gateways or openings intentionally integrated into the fence. Water systems and culverts that pass under the fence and road will also provide routes for animals.
In areas where the fence runs unbroken for a distance of more than 6 km, open gates installed at intervals of around 3 km will provide routes for large animals to pass through. These gates will be monitored by camera surveillance. In the more detailed planning of locations for game animal gateways, there will be consultation of local parties (game management association, hunting clubs and environmental protection experts). If the border situation so requires, the gates can be closed.
The planning of the route for the fence gives consideration to nature reserves, skirting around them where possible. An external expert will provide an environmental report for the barrier fence. The findings of this report will be taken into account in the more detailed fence planning work.
Only if an agreement can be reached with the landowner. The legislation only sets obligations for owners of land or water areas that are located in the border zone.
(Border Guard Act (15.7.2005/578) section 50 (8.7.2022/698) Barriers: The owner or holder of land or water areas within the border zone is obliged to permit the construction of a fence or other type of barrier, at the state’s expense, if this is necessary for the maintenance of border management.)
The fragmentation of the terrain is a challenge, but efforts will be made to take this into account in the more detailed planning. The pilot will provide additional information and solutions for the possible subsequent stages of the project.
The pilot project will be carried out without public tendering on the basis of section 22 of the Public Defence and Security Procurements Act (1531/2011).
The following stage, in which the border fence will be constructed at border crossing points and in the surrounding areas, will be carried out in accordance with public procurement legislation. The Finnish Border Guard publishes details of its procurements at: hankintailmoitukset.fi.