Refugees arriving in southern Sweden from Denmark in November. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Sweden's centre-left coalition confirmed on Wednesday that it was going to introduce regular ID checks on buses, trains and ferries to cope with record numbers of people travelling to the region to claim asylum. The new controls will be introduced during the first week of 2016.
The plan is likely to have the most effect on trains from Copenhagen to Malmö, which are used by tens of thousands of Swedish and Danish commuters every day.
“It will be more difficult and it will affect the frequency (of trains) but that should always be weighed against: what is the alternative if we do not act?” Sweden’s Migration Minister Morgan Johansson said at a press conference.
Johansson said the controls would take place on the Danish side of the border and that the government had been informed.
“They understand as well that this is going to cause problems on the Danish side.”
Another comment by Johansson at Wednesday's press conference was met with less understanding in Denmark.
The Swedish minister took a dig at his Danish counterparts by saying that Sweden has already done more than its fair share to cope with Europe’s largest migrant crisis in decades.
“We have hit our limit. Denmark has not,” Johansson said.
READ ALSO: Denmark and Sweden in refugee war of words
Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen responded by telling the Swedes that they should focus on their own issues.
“It’s not up to the Swedes to judge Danish immigration policies,” Rasmussen told Danish network TV2 News.
“Denmark and Sweden have rather different immigration policies, that’s been the case for generations. And that’s also why the Swedes have the problems that they have right now. And what our limit is, that’s something that is defined in Denmark and not by the Swedes,” the PM added.
Rasmussen also joined critics of Sweden’s plan in saying that controls on the Øresund Bridge – made famous by the Nordic Noir television series ‘The Bridge' – will negatively affect growth in the region.
“The Swedes have had their own immigration policies and they are apparently overcome by it. And what is coming now is that one is implementing instruments that will in reality force the development in the Øresund Region backwards, with a risk of lost jobs and prosperity,” Rasmussen said.
“That is a Swedish problem. It is created by Sweden, it’s not created by us,” he added.
The two countries similarly traded veiled criticisms of one another's asylum and immigration policies in November after Denmark rejected a Swedish appeal to take in more refugees.
A number of migration experts told Jyllands-Posten on Wednesday that Sweden’s new controls will likely result in more asylum seekers in Denmark. The Danish government is thus currently debating implementing a similar system that would lead to temporary border controls and ID checks at the German border.
Danish rail operator DSB has said that it does not have the capacity, nor the necessary permission from German officials, to check passengers for valid ID south of the border. The firm has warned that if the Danish government follows through with its plans, the operator may be forced to stop running trains into both Sweden and Germany.
Sweden expects to receive around 190,000 asylum seekers this year. Denmark had received roughly 18,000 through the end of November.