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Working group makes several legislative proposals to improve comprehensive national security in transfers of immovable property

Government Communications Department 28.6.2018 11.08
Press release 337/2018
Working group makes several legislative proposals to improve comprehensive national security in transfers of immovable property

A working group appointed by the Prime Minister’s Office has drafted proposals for legislative amendments to improve comprehensive national security in transfers of immovable property. The working group proposes new provisions to ensure that the authorities will have sufficiently reliable, comprehensive and up-to-date situational awareness of property ownership in the vicinity of sites of national strategic importance.

The working group proposes that a provision be added to the Land Use and Building Act concerning national security interests in land use, and also that the Act on Redemption of Property for Defence Purposes be repealed and replaced with a broader Act concerning the redemption of property and of special rights in the interests of national security.

Also, it is proposed that the central government be given the right of pre-emption in the case of property transactions where acquiring said property for the government would be vital for purposes of national defence, border surveillance or border security or for monitoring or enforcing the territorial integrity of Finland.

It is deemed necessary for improving situational awareness that acquisitions of immovable property by foreign nationals in areas of significance for national defence, border surveillance or border security or for monitoring or enforcing the territorial integrity of Finland be scrutinised more broadly than at present. It is proposed that any corporate body not domiciled in the European Union or the European Economic Area, and any private individual who is not a citizen of the European Union or of a country belonging to the European Economic Area, should be required to apply for a permit to acquire any property in such areas.

The working group also appraised other means for improving situational awareness of changes in property ownership but did not propose organising a separate or centralised situational awareness function. Instead, improved cooperation between authorities was considered crucial in maintaining an appropriate and up-to-date situational awareness.

It is the considered opinion of the working group that further preparation should include consideration of amending the government property strategy and the Act on the Right to Transfer State Real Estate Assets. The working group noted that comprehensive national security might be incorporated in the government property strategy and legislation as a criterion to be taken into account when classifying central government assets as strategic or non-strategic and when considering the prerequisites for relinquishing central government properties.

The working group report will next be circulated for comment. The aim is to submit the eventual Government proposal to Parliament in the autumn session of 2018.

On 1 June 2017, the Prime Minister’s Office appointed a working group to evaluate the applicability and feasibility for comprehensive national security of the means proposed in the report ‘Improving comprehensive state security in transfers of immovable property’ published by the Ministry of Defence on 20 April 2017. The working group took into account the goal stated in the Government Programme of the Government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä of reinforcing the principle of comprehensive security nationally, in the EU and in international cooperation.

National security in land use and transfers of immovable property, Report of the working group (in Finnish)

Further information: Working group chairman Timo Lankinen, Permanent State Under-Secretary, tel. 0295 160 300