Swedish government suspends EU passport-free travel rules

Swedish government demands refugees bring their passports to be registered as they enter country amid border controls

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Sweden's Interior Minister Anders Ygeman speaks in Stockholm, November 11, 2015.

Swedish police have been urging refugees traveling to and from neighbouring countries on Thursday to bring their passport or other identification documents as the country temporarily reintroduces border controls to stem the influx of refugees entering the country from Denmark and Germany.

The Swedish government announced the move on late Wednesday which means that it has suspended the European Union’s passport-free travel rules.

The government said the move would “bring order” to Sweden’s reception of refugees and ensure that refugees entering the country are registered.

The Swedish government has announced it will impose temporary border controls starting from noon on Thursday as it struggles to cope with a record number of refugees.

“Our signal to the rest of the EU is crystal clear - Sweden is the country that has shouldered the greatest responsibility for the refugee crisis," Interior Minister Anders Ygeman told a news conference.

Sweden has proportionally been the most welcoming EU country for refugees, and expects 190,000 refugees to arrive in the country this year.

"If we are to cope with this mutual challenge, the other countries must take their responsibility," Ygeman said.

Sweden will be the latest EU country to impose increased border controls to limit the refugee influx.

On Tuesday, Slovenia announced it will set up temporary "hurdles" along its border with Croatia in order to deter further refugees, while Hungary has already closed its borders to Balkan countries to stop the refugees from entering the country. 

Ygeman said border controls will primarily apply to Oresund bridge connecting Sweden and Denmark.

Ferry terminals in the southern part of the country, which many refugees heading to Germany use, will be controlled as well.

The country fell short of accommodating thousands of refugees in proper shelters, and is planning to shelter some in heated tents as winter comes.

However, last week Sweden announced it could no longer guarantee shelters for the newcomers.

Sweden sought help from the European Commission for the transfer of some refugees in the country to other EU member countries.

Europe is facing the highest number of refugees since World War ll as hundreds of thousands of people flee civil wars and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, almost 800,000 refugees crossed the Meditarrenean to reach Europe so far this year and more than 3,400 died in the attempt.

TRTWorld and agencies