Thursday

28th Jan 2021

Sweden reintroduces border controls

Sweden is to impose temporary border controls to try to manage the flow of refugees, which is putting the country’s infrastructure under stress.

The decision was announced Wednesday evening (11 November) and will be effective Thursday at noon for a 10-day period which could be extended for 20 days.

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Controls will be take place mainly on the Oresund bridge, in the south of the country, where traffic comes from Denmark, and in ferry ports in the region where boats arrive from Denmark and Germany.

"The overall assessment when we collect information from the police, the Civil Contingencies Agency and the Migration Agency is that it is warranted to impose temporary border controls," interior minister Anders Ygeman told a press conference.

More than 120,000 people have arrived since January in Sweden, which is, with Germany, one the favoured destinations for migrants coming to Europe and wich has, until recently, upheld what Ygeman called a "generous" policy.

Between 160,000 and 190,000 asylum seekers are expected this year, up from 81,000 in all of 2014. Thirty thousand are unaccompanied minors.

Sweden receives the most refugees per capita in the EU.

The Swedish Migration Agency recently warned it is short of 25,000 to 45,000 sleeping places for everyone by the end of the year.

The assessment proved to be an alarm bell for the centre-left coalition government.

Last week, the government asked the EU to relocate some asylum seekers to other EU countries to relieve migrant centres and social services.

Reestablishing border control is a step further to get help from EU partners.

"Our signal to the rest of the EU is crystal clear,” Ygeman said.

“Sweden is the country that has shouldered the greatest responsibility for the refugee crisis. If we are to cope with this mutual challenge, the other countries must take their responsibility.”

Sweden is the fourth country to reestablish border controls since the start of the crisis in summer.

In September, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia applied a rule from the Schengen code on passport-free travel which allows emergency border controls in case of “serious threat to public policy or internal security.”

Denmark could be next.

But speaking from Malta, where he is participating in an EU-Africa summit, Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmusse told the BBC he has not yet considered establishing controls.

"We have contingency plans in Denmark, so we can start border controls, and we can do it quickly," he said. "The question is whether it is wise."

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Sweden, which hosts the most asylum seekers per capita, has asked other EU states to relocate some people under a quota originally designed for Hungary.

Sweden beset by anti-migrant arson attacks

Ten asylum homes across Sweden were set alight in October. As police search for the culprits, debate is rife on how to cope with the influx of migrants and the rhetoric of the far-right Sweden Democrats.

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