(Miriam Dalsgaard/Polfoto via AP)
Security staff checks the ID of a passenger at the train station Copenhagen International Airport in Kastrup to prevent illegal migrants entering Sweden on Monday Jan. 4, 2016. Sweden requires train companies with service across a bridge-and-tunnel link from Denmark to refuse passengers without ID.

Sweden, Denmark tighten borders: EU free movement in trouble?

Denmark and Sweden tightened their borders on Monday to stem the flow of migrants entering from Germany.

Denmark and Sweden tightened their borders on Monday in efforts to stem the flow of migrants entering Scandinavia from Germany.

Just hours after Swedish rules went into effect requiring train passengers traveling from Denmark to show ID, the Danish government announced it had beefed up border controls with Germany as of noon Monday (1100 GMT, 6 a.m. EST).

"We are introducing temporary border controls, but in a balanced way," Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen told reporters in Copenhagen, adding there would be no problem for "ordinary" Danes and Germans to cross the border.

The moves were the latest by European Union countries to suspend an agreement to keep internal borders open after 1 million migrants entered the 28-nation bloc in 2015, most of them by crossing the Mediterranean to Greece or Italy.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer says freedom of movement across most European Union countries is "perhaps one of the greatest achievements in the last 60 years."

Mr. Schaefer told reporters in Berlin on Monday that the Schengen system "is very important, but it's in danger due to the flow of refugees." He echoed other German officials' calls for a pan-European agreement on how to control the movement of migrants across borders.

German Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said of the Danish movement that "it will have to be watched very carefully whether and how this affects migration northward from Germany."

"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.

He said the Danish move was in response to new ID checks introduced by Sweden on Monday for all passengers entering the country by train, bus or ferry.

"This could lead to more refugees and migrants being stopped on their journey northward, and therefore ending up with us in Denmark," the prime minister said.

His government has taken a series of measures to discourage migrants from coming toDenmark, including a proposal to seize their jewelry to cover their expenses.

The Swedish government initially had a welcoming attitude to migrants, but reversed course after more than 160,000 Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and others applied for asylum in 2015, the highest number in Europe except for Germany.

To comply with the new Swedish rules, passengers on Monday had to show identification to board trains departing from Copenhagen Airport to Sweden across a bridge-and-tunnel link.

Danish officials have criticized the move and suggested Sweden should pay for the cost of the ID checks.

Loekke Rasmussen called the Swedish move a "big setback" for efforts to deepen ties between Copenhagen and southern Sweden and predicted it would cause problems for commuters.

He stressed that the Danish checks on the German border wouldn't be as far-reaching. They would entail "spot checks" on passengers on trains crossing the mainland border on the Jutland peninsula and on ferries arriving in the Danish ports of Gedser and Roedby.

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

German officials didn't comment directly Monday on the Danish decision, but Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Loekke Rasmussen had spoken with the German leader.

Germany introduced border controls of its own on the Austrian frontier in mid-September and Seibert said those have been successful — "but it is clear to all of us in Europe ... that we need an overall European solution. The solution won't be found at national borders between country A and country B."

More than 190,000 migrants crossed the German-Danish border last year. About 13,000 applied for asylum in Denmark, while others traveled further north to Sweden, Norway and Finland, Loekke Ramussen said.


Karl Ritter reported from Stockholm. Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Sweden, Denmark tighten borders: EU free movement in trouble?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today