Friday

24th Nov 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

”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.

Nordic people prioritise closer defence cooperation

"We live in turbulent times so people want to seek comfort," says Norway's new defence minister Frank Bakke-Jensen as Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland - plus Baltics - meet in Helsinki.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. Irish opposition 'threatens national interest', says minister
  2. SPD drops opposition to grand coalition in Germany
  3. Macron avoids criticising Poland on legal reforms
  4. Denmark, France and Belgium have highest income taxes
  5. ECB split over keeping QE open-ended
  6. Rwanda may resettle 30,000 migrants from Libya
  7. EU tax haven blacklist may include Turkey
  8. No UK 'capital of culture' city post-Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  5. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  6. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  7. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  10. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  11. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  12. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!

Latest News

  1. Irish crisis may complicate Brexit summit
  2. UK to call out 'hostile' Russia at EU summit
  3. EU calls for better disease prevention
  4. Eastern Partnership must not be deterred by Russian aggression
  5. EU awaits UK proposals in final push for Brexit breakthrough
  6. Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP
  7. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  8. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks