Denmark will impose temporary border controls at the country’s southern border with Germany, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced at a press conference today (4 January) .
The border controls come after Sweden also introduced ID checks on its borders with Denmark today. According to the Danish premier, these checks increase the risk that a large number of illegal immigrants will be ‘stranded’ in Copenhagen.
“You can say what you want about the Swedish ID controls, but the decision was made,” Rasmussen said at the press briefing. “This is not a happy moment at all,” he declared, adding that the border control at the Danish-German border will be unsystematic and so far be for ten days, but with the possibility of an extention.
Rasmussen said both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos have been notified about the new measure, in order to comply with the EU’s Schengen rules, which abolish border controls.
Denmark is the sixth Schengen member over the past months that has set up border controls within the EU’s internal borders after Norway, Sweden, Germany, France and Austria.
The country fears a higher number of asylum seekers will be the consequence of the Swedish ID checks which take place on Danish soil and prevent those, who are undocumented, from travelling to Sweden.
The border controls at the Danish-German border are meant to discourage asylum seekers from travelling to Denmark in the first place.
On Monday, Danish and Swedish authorities closely followed the traffic situation surrounding the Øresund bridge which connects the two Scandinavian countries and which 30,000 people cross on a daily basis.
While several passengers were not allowed to board a train from Copenhagen Airport to Sweden, Danish broadcaster DR reported that four Swedes were rejected boarding a ferry from Elsinore to Helsingborg.
Sweden made a U-turn with its asylum policies in November, when the country said it would only grant temporary residence permits for refugees, and fulfill the minimum standards under international and EU laws when it comes to dealing with refugees.
In 2015, Sweden accepted 163,000 asylum seekers according to official data, the highest number of an EU member state per capita.
Denmark received 18,505 asylum seekers, while Norway and Finland received 30,101 and 30,625, respectively.
The European Union has agreed on a plan, resisted by Hungary and several other ex-Communist members of the bloc, to share out 120,000 refugees among its members, a small proportion of the hundred thousands of refugees the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates will reach Europe's borders from the Middle East, Africa and Asia this year.
The EU is also courting Turkey with the promise of money, visa-free travel, and new accession talks if Ankara tries to stem the flow of refugees across its territory.
- 13 January: Denmark to decide on whether its border controls should be extended.