Sweden, Denmark re-impose ID controls to stem refugee influx

Shortly after Sweden begins imposing ID checks for all travellers from Denmark, Danish government announces "balanced and temporary border controls" in order to restrict refugee influx

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Syrian migrants leave the train station in Padborg, Denmark, at the German border Thursday Sept. 10, 2015

For the first time since 1950, Schengen states Sweden and Denmark have begun imposing strict border controls in order to limit refugee influx from Germany.

Danish government has announced the new measures will affect passengers travelling from Germany to Denmark in response to Sweden which has began imposing border controls for the travellers from Denmark just hours before.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, whose government imposed some discouraging measures such as seizing jewelries of refugees, said the move was aiming to prevent refugees being stopped on their journey northward ending up in Denmark.

The Schengen Agreement was enabling passport-free movement between large number of European countries since 1995.

However, despite both Sweden and Denmark are Shengen countries, Swedish officials said that passengers travelling by bus, train and boat demanded to present a valid ID with photo to enter Sweden will face penalties if they fail to provide the documents and will be turned back to Denmark.

Security staff check people's identification at Kastrups train station outside Copenhagen, January 4, 2016

“The government now considers that the current situation, with a large number of people entering the country in a relatively short time, poses a serious threat to public order and national security,” said a Swedish government official regarding the latest development in border controls.

The newly imposed measures aiming to keep out undocumented refugees considered as a turning point for Sweden as it has a long history of being one of the countries in Europe taking most refugees fleeing war and prosecution in Asia and the Middle East.

In September, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löften has stated that Sweden, as a European state was “not building walls for people fleeing from war.”

But Sweden recently announced that it was not able to cope with the new refugee arrivals as weekly asylum applications reached 10,000. In 2015, 163,000 asylum seekers have applied for Sweden.

Migration agency of Sweden has dropped weekly arrivals from 10,500 to 3,500 in November by imposing some temporary border controls.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen told reporters that border controls would be "temporary and in a balanced way" adding that the new measures would not be problem for ordinary Danes and Germans crossing the border.

"We are not talking about controlling everyone coming in from Germany," he said.

Some other countries in the Schengen area, such as Germany, Austria and France also re-imposed border controls last year.

"If the European Union cannot protect the external border, you will see more and more countries forced to introduce temporary border controls," Loekke Rasmussen said.

TRTWorld and agencies