Monday

26th Jun 2017

Focus

MEPs urge Sweden to end border checks

  • Border checks at the first stop in Sweden on the train from Denmark (Photo: News Øresund - Johan Wessman)

Five MEPs from the European parliament’s civil liberties committee (Libe), who visited Sweden on Tuesday and Wednesday (20-21 September), urged it to end checks on the border with Denmark as soon as possible.

The head of the delegation, Portuguese Socialist Ana Gomes, said border checks were an exception to EU rules and must be a temporary solution.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

”Controls were introduced to give people a sense of safety,” she told journalists in Malmo [a Swedish city], ”but the situation is now very different.”

Sweden reintroduced the borders last autumn after the arrival of a record number of refugees. Some 163,000 people were registered by the Swedish Migration Agency last year.

EU rules say that a country can temporarily reintroduce borders as "a measure of last resort" when faced with a threat to public order and safety.

The Schengen Border Code says that temporary borders can be introduced for a period of six months, which can be renewed to a maximum of two years.

”We have heard just how much Malmo benefited from integration with the rest of Europe via the Oresund bridge and from the freedom of movement,” Gomes said.

She added that controls required a lot of resources that could be better used elsewhere.

Denmark and Sweden have been linked by the Oresund bridge since 2000. Some 15,000 commuters cross the strait every day by car and train.

Controls were first introduced in November last year and have been extended several times since. Anyone who wants to enter Sweden must now show an ID. The checks have caused stress and delays, and the number of trips has dropped by 12 percent according to Oresund Institute, a think tank.

The MEPs visited the Oresund bridge and Hyllie, the train station that marks the first stop in Sweden on the train from Copenhagen.

They witnessed border controls on both sides of the Oresund sound, and also met with Sweden's Migration Agency, the Oresund Institute, the police, the charity Save the Children, and one organisation for unaccompanied children.

MEPs worried that refugee children travelling without their parents were particularly vulnerable. Many children are registered once they have made it over the border, but then disappear without trace.

Swedish left-wing MEP Malin Bjoerk said she was very concerned and "even critical" of the police.

"They don't prioritise work against human trafficking and prostitution. Many of those who come, both boys and girls, are subject to sexual exposure. We were told that organisations have handed over information about 32 cases of abused children, which haven't been investigated by the police” she said.

”Officers must do more to find disappeared children in Malmo. The fight against trafficking of unaccompanied minors must be a priority,” centre-right Swedish-Italian politician Anna Maria Corazza Bildt agreed.

She was also worried about commuters.

”For every day that border checks continue, people lose jobs,” Corazza Bildt said.

”Controls must be simplified,” she added, ”so that they don’t affect people’s lives as much.”

The MEPs’ delegation also comprised Slovak centre-right MEP Jozsef Nagy, Romanian Socialist Emilian Pavel and far-right Swedish MEP Kristina Winberg.

The latter disagreed with the rest of the group.

”Controls seem to work surprisingly well,” she said. ”I think they should remain after 12 November,” she added, with reference to the date when they are due to end or be renewed.

The MEPs' opinion doesn't have any legal value.

Under the European Commission's 'Back to Schengen' plan, presented earlier this year, all internal border controls in the EU should be lifted by December 2016.

Swedish crackdown targets migrant families

Bill designed to reduce number of asylum seekers, even though the numbers have fallen sharply anyway. Charities said it would put more children at risk.

Danish-Swedish border checks cause stress, delays

Number of people going by train between Denmark and Sweden dropped 12 percent since Sweden introduced anti-migrant ID controls. After 60 years of Nordic free travel, people hate the scheme.

Interview

Cheap meat is a bigger problem for climate and health

A leading scholar of sustainability issues has called on the EU to introduce protectionist food policies that impose tough health and environmental standards in order to stop the imports of cheap and poor quality meat.

Trust is 'gold' in digital age

Trust is perhaps the most important resource and the key to building successes, but new Nordic research indicates that challenges may lie ahead in the digital age.

In cooperation with

News in Brief

  1. Merkel on collision course with US at G20 summit
  2. Schulz outlines German election strategy, hits out at Merkel
  3. Berlusconi's party sees comeback in Italian local votes
  4. Low turnout in Albanian election set to mandate EU future
  5. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  6. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  7. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  8. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  3. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  4. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  5. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  6. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  7. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  8. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  9. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  10. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  11. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  12. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?

Latest News

  1. UK previews offer on EU nationals' rights
  2. EU approves rescue of Italian banks
  3. Cohesion policy for a stronger Europe
  4. Cheap meat is a bigger problem for climate and health
  5. Ministers to reject minimum parking spaces for electric cars
  6. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  7. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  8. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits