The two Nordic countries are both struggling to cope with an unprecedented influx of refugees and migrants fleeing war and misery in the Middle East and elsewhere, and they receive among the highest number of arrivals per capita in the EU.
The Finnish government said it expect to deport around 20,000 of the 32,000 asylum-seekers it received in 2015.
‘In principle we speak of about two-thirds, meaning approximately 65 percent of the 32,000 will get a negative decision (to their asylum application),’ Paivi Nerg, the ministry’s administrative director told AFP.
Last year, Finland made it more difficult from migrants from Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia to get asylum, stating that the security situation had improved in certain areas of those countries.
More than 20,000 of Finland’s asylum-seekers are from Iraq.
‘In previous years around 60 percent (of applicants) received a negative decision but now we have somewhat tightened our criteria for Iraqis, Afghans and Somalis,’ Nerg explained.
She said that the ministry is planning to set up separate transit centres for those to be deported from those wanting to leave the country on a voluntary basis.
The deportations will take place gradually as immigration authorities process applications.
Two charter flights to deport Iraqis were already scheduled within the following months and about 4,000 asylum-seekers had already withdrawn their applications.
Finland is also in diplomatic negotiations with neighbouring Russia to stop migrants from entering Finland via the Arctic region.
After Norway barred migrants from entering the country on its own Arctic border crossing with Russia in December, the flow of migrants turned towards Finland.
It comes as neighbouring Sweden was planning over several years to deport up to 80,000 people whose asylum applications are likely to be rejected.
‘We are talking about 60,000 people but the number could climb to 80,000,’ interior minister Anders Ygeman told Swedish media.
Just like in Finland, the operation would require the use of specially chartered aircraft.
Anders estimated that Sweden would reject around half of the 163,000 asylum requests received in 2015.
Swedish migration minister Morgan Johansson said authorities faced a difficult task in deporting such large numbers, but insisted failed asylum seekers had to return home.
‘Otherwise we would basically have free immigration and we can’t manage that,’ he told news agency TT.
The fresh clampdown came as at least 31 migrants died trying to reach Europe.
The bodies of 25 people, including 10 children, were found off the Aegean island of Samos.
The Italian navy said it had recovered six bodies from a sinking rubber boat off Libya.
In Bulgaria, the frozen bodies of two men, believed to be asylum-seekers, were found near the border with Serbia.
Nearly 4,000 people died trying to reach Europe by sea last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM)