Friday

23rd Aug 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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 (Photo: EUobserver)
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.

Trump to meet Greenland leader in Denmark

Donald Trump is to meet Greenland leader Kim Kielsen while in Denmark next month, amid global attention prompted by Trump's offer to buy the vast island.

US climate scepticism irks Arctic foreign ministers

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo meets Russia's Sergey Lavrov and other Arctic foreign ministers, amidst a row over climate change. Pompeo is also likely to warn against Chinese advances in the Arctic.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Stakeholder

Climate policy in Nordics: how to maximise global impact?

To maximise the global impact of climate policy, Norwegian economists recommend a shift of focus - from national emissions reductions, to clean technology development and better use of international emissions-trading systems, notably EU market mechanisms.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us