- For the Government Policy Program for Expatriate Finns for 2017-2021, policy goals and measures shall be written into the government program and resourced as part of the state budget.
- The activities of the Finnish Expatriate Parliament, which is maintained by the Finland Society and operates within its bylaws, shall be ensured with an additional appropriation.
Finland is a pioneering country in terms of expatriate issues. There are about 300,000 Finnish citizens as well as two million people of Finnish background living overseas. Finland needs innovative measures to ensure that expatriate Finns are able to actively participate in building Finland’s future.
Expatriate Finns’ expertise is still an untapped resource when seeking experts for Finland’s labor market, exporting Finland and promoting it overseas, as well as when Finns are raised as international experts with good language skills. The Finland Society’s view is that it is increasingly important to bring expatriate Finns closer to Finland.
People’s mobility is one of today’s megatrends. Traditional emigration has turned into target migration while those moving overseas are increasingly educated. According to the international study Decoding Global Talent 2018, as many as 68% of job seekers in Finland would like to work overseas. Especially those under 30 are eager to venture overseas. Moreover, most highly educated Finns (72%) are interested in moving abroad to work. The network of expatriate Finns is growing, expanding and diversifying. Is Finland ready for this?
(1) Expatriate Finns in the government program and state budget
Migration issues are on the agenda of Finland’s EU presidency term. Expatriate Finns must be taken into account in the government program, and the procedural proposals of the Government Policy Program for Expatriate Finns must be resourced in the state budget.
As many as 60 million EU citizens live outside their home country. Over 15 million of them live in some other EU member state. When comparing practices in different countries, expatriate issues have been arranged in different ways. Romania brought up diaspora issues as one of the top themes of its EU presidency, while migration issues are also on the agenda during Finland’s EU presidency.
In Finland, the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for coordinating expatriate issues as well as the Government Policy Program for Expatriate Finns for 2017 – 2021. The program represents an intention of how expatriate Finnish issues should be managed. The challenge is that expatriate Finns’ issues are dispersed under the jurisdiction of several different ministries.
The goals of the Government Policy Program for Expatriate Finns are connected with elections, citizenship issues such as passports and IDs, activities of Suomi and Europe schools overseas, children’s basic education, social security and health service issues, business and economic resources, information and communication services, as well as support of organizational activities. The state budget must include the measures stated in the Government Policy Program for Expatriate Finns and the required resources. For instance the operational requirements of Finland’s six overseas schools and the Suomi School network must be secured. This would be a tremendous cultural achievement.
(2) The activities of the unique Finnish Expatriate Parliament must be secured
Securing the activities of the Finnish Expatriate Parliament requires that a sufficient appropriation (100,000 euros per year) is directed to this purpose, in addition to the Finland Society’s present budget.
The Finland Society has served as a connection between the home country and Finns living overseas since 1927. The Finnish Expatriate Parliament (FEP) was founded in 1997 at the initiative of the Finland Society and Finnish expatriate communities.
The FEP’s achievements include dual citizenship, postal voting for Finns overseas, bringing taxation on work pensions paid overseas to a more reasonable level, rehabilitation of Finnish expatriate war veterans in their home countries and an intern exchange in the healthcare field to Suomi nursing homes overseas.
The FEP is a Finnish innovation which promotes inclusion of expatriate Finns and promotes democracy. It is an established and open forum, which operates in a statutory way and allows expatriate Finns to make decisions together on issues they consider important and to inform Finnish officials about these decisions. In 22 years, the FEP has become significant social influencer. Thanks to the FEP, expatriate Finns’ views are taken into account in Finland and regular contacts are maintained with them. At the moment, 541 expatriate communities from 36 countries are involved in the FEP activities.
The FEP, which is funded by the Finland Society, is globally unique and promotes Finland’s reputation as a country that treats all Finns equally regardless of their place of residence.