Sweden’s decision to implement temporary border controls for an initial ten-day period almost immediately led to calls for Denmark to do the same.
Sweden’s minister for home affairs, Anders Ygeman, told a press conference in Stockholm on Wednesday evening that border controls would take place on the Øresund Bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden, as well as the ferry terminals in southern Sweden.
The Swedish controls will take effect at 12pm on Thursday and will initially apply for ten days, though Ygeman said they could be extended in 20-day periods.
With large numbers of refugees crossing into Sweden from Denmark, the decision could have a significant impact on a nation that has aggressively tried to keep refugee numbers down.
Following Sweden’s decision, Denmark’s right-of-centre parties called on PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen to follow suit.
“Sweden implements border controls! The dominoes will now fall! The EU and Schengen have failed. With Sweden now implementing border controls, Denmark should immediately do the same,” Kristian Thulesen Dahl, the head of the Danish People’s Party, wrote on Facebook.
Support parties the Conservatives and Liberal Alliance also expressed support for new Danish border controls, and the left-of-centre Social Democrats said they would support a government decision to do so, but Rasmussen said it would not be a wise move.
“It would with certainty mean that we would have more, not fewer, asylum seekers in Denmark,” he told TV2 News, saying that Denmark would have to either register any asylum seekers stopped at its national borders or send them back where they came from.
He added that Sweden might see its asylum numbers actually rise from the border control decision.
“It can mean that some of those who had an ambition of travelling on to Finland or Norway will now instead give their asylum applications to Sweden,” he said.
Speaking to national broadcaster DR, Rasmussen said that he discussed Sweden’s decision with his counterpart Stefan Löfven at an EU conference in Malta on Wednesday evening.
“What Stefan Löfven has assured me today is that Sweden is not closing itself off. One can continue to go to Sweden to seek asylum, but they want to get a better grip on what is happening. And if that’s that, then it will not result in a Danish reaction,” he said.
Sweden’s decision came just hours after Rasmussen announced that Denmark will be introducing another round of new restrictions aimed at keeping the number of asylum seekers and refugees down.
The PM said his government will shorten the length of residence permits, make family reunification more difficult, further cut the benefits given to refugees and asylum seekers, and make it harder for them to enter Denmark in the first place. Rasmussen also said that Denmark would increase its efforts to send rejected asylum seekers out of the country.
Anyone planning on travelling from Denmark to Sweden has been advised to ensure that they have proper identification. There are also warnings of potential delays in crossing the Øresund Bridge, which is used by more than 30,000 commuters every day.