EU to host Schengen talks with Sweden and Denmark

Police implement new border procedures in Malmö, Sweden. [News Oresund/Flickr]

The EU said it will host emergency talks Wednesday (6 January) with Denmark, Sweden and Germany about new migrant border checks that have sparked fresh concerns about Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos called the meeting in Brussels after Denmark implemented spot checks on its border with Germany, and Sweden imposed its own controls on travellers from Denmark.

“The goal of this meeting is to improve coordination between the concerned countries in order to ensure better management of the migratory pressure,” European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said on Tuesday (5 January).

>>Read: Denmark introduces border controls with Germany

The talks will involve Swedish Minister for Justice and Morgan Johansson, Danish Integration Minister Inger Støjberg and Ole Schröder, German State Secretary for Interior, said the Commission.

Brussels is studying the legality of the actions, including new Swedish measures requiring travellers between Denmark and Sweden to show their ID cards for the first time since the late 1950s, when a Nordic agreement on passport-free travel came into force.

Stockholm and Copenhagen both informed the Commission about the new measures they adopted on Monday in response to a huge movement of more than one million refugees and migrants, mainly from Syria, over the past year.

>>Read: Sweden to impose ID checks on travellers from Denmark

“It appears to be a situation covered by the rules,” Commission spokeswoman Tove Ernst said when asked about Denmark’s move. “We will closely monitor the situation.”

Faced by Europe’s largest migration crisis since World War II, several countries including Germany, Austria and France have taken advantage recently of Schengen rules allowing them to re-introduce border checks for up to six months in exceptional circumstances.

Sweden, which has taken in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU nation, recently said it could no longer cope with the unregulated flow of arrivals.

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.

  • 6 January: The Commission will meet with Denmark, Sweden and Germany to discuss Schengen regulations in Brussels.
  • 13 January: Denmark to decide on whether its border controls should be extended.

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