Monday

25th Sep 2017

Focus

Danish-Swedish border checks cause stress, delays

  • A a result of checks in trains between Denmark and Sweden, may many have swapped to more expensive car-transport (Photo: Jens Jensen / Øresundsbron)

The number of passengers travelling by train between Denmark and Sweden has dropped 12 percent since Sweden introduced ID-controls at the border with Denmark in January.

An estimated 15,000 people still commute daily between the two countries via the Oresund bridge.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • In a debate at the the People's Political Festival on Bornholm, Sweden's ambassador to Denmark Fredrik Joergensen (l) said there was 'no quick fix' solution possible. (Photo: EUobserver)

Many chose to live on the Swedish side, where house prices are lower, while the jobs are easier to find on the Danish side.

It used to be an easy way of managing the situation.

But no more. From midnight on 4 January 2016, daily travel routines changed drastically when temporary border controls were introduced to stop refugees from travelling en masse into Sweden.

The border control regime has so far been prolonged six times and will stay in place until at least 4 November.

Train transport suffers the most

A fresh study by Oresundsinstituttet, a Danish-Swedish institute designed to promote the region, shows how the border control has affected people and businesses in the region.

Train transport has suffered the most, with an average 30 minutes longer travel time between Malmoe in Sweden and Copenhagen, the study showed.

Passengers feel stressed (64%). Families with children are unhappy because delays make it difficult to plan when to be home to pick up children from daycare.

Many said they would give up working on the other side of the strait if things do not improve. Businesses fear that means they would have less access to qualified staff.

Trains used to run every 10 minutes, now it is every 20 minutes.

Fewer departures have led to overcrowded trains. It has become difficult to find a seat. The journey has also been chopped into pieces by several ID controls.

As a result, many have opted to go by car at an extra monthly cost of average €500 to €600.

”It is not so much the 15-30 extra minutes, it is how the whole trip goes. I used to get on the train, have a seat and have 40 minutes or so to relax, read (either for pleasure or work), so I am fresh for home", one commuter told the Oresundsinstituttet survey.

"Now it is a mad rush to make the metro, stand at least half of the time. Then push and squeeze your way on a train at the airport which you hope showed up on time, so you did not freeze on that wind tunnel of a platform. The train is packed solid. This is not relaxing. It is not a nice way to travel. I never know if the train is going to be on time or totally messed up, so you cannot really make plans ... So yes, it sucks!”.

"Many people in my company in Copenhagen are changing job and I'm thinking about doing the same," another commuter said.

Regional integration at stake

Since 1996, EU structural funds have helped to finance the construction of the Oresund bridge, which, since 2000, connects the Danish capital to Malmoe, Sweden's third largest city.

But now, the entire idea of regional integration is at stake.

The findings were discussed at the The People's Political Festival on Bornholm, where the Nordic Council organised a public debate on the new Danish-Swedish border controls.

Heidi Avellan, political editor-in-chief of Sydsvenskan, a daily newspaper in Sweden, said trust disappeared overnight when the border checks were introduced, ending 60 years of passport-free travel between the two Nordic states.

"It is hard to imagine that any business would establish itself in Malmoe under these circumstances," she said.

The reasons for introducing the controls were, by and large, not questioned by the audience, but the way the controls are being carried out, especially on trains, drew strong criticism.

Sweden's ambassador to Denmark Fredrik Joergensen said there was "no quick fix" to be found.

Meanwhile, people and businesses are making their own arrangements.

Petter Hartmann, CEO of Medicon Valley Alliance, said the Danish pharmaceutical industry altogether has some 1,000 employees crossing daily from Sweden to work in the greater Copenhagen area.

One of the companies, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, has organised daily bus-transport to make sure employees are able to cross without stress, delay or extra costs.

Eva Kjer Hansen, a Danish MP and a member of the Nordic Council, said she almost did not make it to the Bornholm debate on time. She remembered at the last minute that this year going to the Danish island required a passport, since the shortest way is to travel through Sweden.

Another curious effect of the border checks was that more Danes had requested moped driving licenses.

This is not because they want to cross over to Sweden on a moped, but because the moped licence is cheaper than getting a new passport and is accepted as valid ID when crossing the Broen bridge over the strait.

The shorter way to attend the yearly Folkemoede on Danish island Bornholm goes via Sweden - now with passport required

Domino effect: Denmark follows Sweden on EU border checks

“May I see your ID?” - five little words on a train platform in Copenhagen on Monday mark the end of 60 years of Nordic free travel, as first Sweden, then Denmark impose new border checks amid the refugee crisis.

In cooperation with

News in Brief

  1. Merkel wins fourth term, exit polls say
  2. EU to hail 'aspirations' of former Soviet states
  3. UK says credit downgrade was wrong
  4. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  5. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  6. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  7. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  8. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  2. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  3. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted
  4. European Federation of Local Energy CompaniesClean Energy for All? On 10.10 Top-Level Speakers Present the Clean Energy Package
  5. UNICEFUp to Three Quarters of Children Face Abuse & Exploitation on Mediterranean Migration Routes
  6. Swedish EnterprisesEurope Under Challenge; Recipe for a Competitive EU
  7. European Public Health AllianceCall to International Action to Break Deadlock on Chronic Diseases Crisis
  8. CES - Silicones EuropePropelling the construction revolution with silicones
  9. EU2017EEEU 2018 Budget: A Case of Three Paradoxes
  10. ACCAUS 'Dash for Gas' Could Disrupt Global Gas Markets
  11. Swedish Enterprises“No Time to Lose” Film & Debate on How Business & Politics Can Fight Climate Change
  12. European Free AllianceSave The Date!! 26.09 - Coppieters Awards To... Carme Forcadell