Denmark introduces border controls following similar Swedish move

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Jan. 4, 2016 at 6:45 AM
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Denmark tightened border controls with Germany on Monday soon after Sweden introduced identity checks for travelers arriving from Denmark in an attempt to limit the flow of migrants.

Danish police will carry out border inspections for the next 10 days. Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said the decision was "not a happy moment," but added Denmark "must respond" to Sweden's move, BBC News reports.

"We are introducing temporary border controls, but in a balanced way," Rasmussen said. "If the European Union cannot protect the external border you will see more and more countries forced to introduce temporary border controls."

The Danish restrictions may extend to all of the country's borders.

The Swedish border controls will be imposed on the Öresund Bridge, which connects Sweden and Denmark. All people traveling via train or bus through the bridge or by using ferry services will be denied entry without proper documentation.

About 20,000 people commute through the Öresund Bridge daily. Train commuters heading to Sweden will also have to change rails at the Copenhagen Airport and go through identity checkpoints. The new identity checks are expected to create significant delays.

Swedish Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson said the new rules would be changed if there was a dramatic fall in the number of asylum seekers. The border control introduction reverses Sweden's open border policy that had been in place since the 1950s.

More than 1 million migrants entered Europe in 2015, creating a humanitarian crisis as some countries struggled to cope with the large number of asylum-seekers.

Late last year, Sweden introduced a new law that would fine transport companies nearly $6,000 if travelers to Sweden do not have a valid photo ID.

Danish Transport Minister Hans Christian Schmidt said the introduction of border checks was sad and "extremely annoying," suggesting the Swedish government should pay for the checks -- estimated to cost about $145,000 daily.

Sweden, with a population of 9.8 million, received more than 150,000 asylum applications in 2015, a higher number per capita than any other country in the European Union.

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