Sweden’s ID checks were ‘not fun’: Danish PM Rasmussen

Denmark’s prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen says that he is glad Sweden has decided to scrap ID checks on Øresund crossings between the two Scandinavian countries.

Sweden’s ID checks were 'not fun': Danish PM Rasmussen
File photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix

Sweden announced on Tuesday that it would drop the ID checks carried out on its borders since the beginning of 2016.

“Swedish ID checks have set the whole of the Øresund region back,” the PM said in a press statement.

“The controls have been a significant inconvenience for commuters and others travelling between Denmark and Sweden and have adversely affected the strong dynamic the region has had for decades. It has not been fun to experience it,” Rasmussen continued.

Sweden introduced border control in November 2015 and in January 2016 required transport service providers to carry out ID checks on board trains, ferries and buses crossing the Øresund.

The measures were introduced as a result of a peak in the flow of migrants from Denmark to Sweden in 2015.

Sweden’s ID requirements, placed on Danish rail operator DSB amongst others, stated that operators could be hit with fines for transporting undocumented individuals across the Øresund to Sweden.

Both border control and the now-scrapped ID checks have resulted in significant delays and cancellations on trains between Denmark and Sweden, reports Ritzau.

DSB will cease carrying out its checks from Thursday, according to the Danish Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing.

“It is also extremely pleasing that the Swedish government has now decided to repeal the ID control. It is a good day. Now we in the region can continue to grow and develop together.

“I look forward to conditions for commuters, businesses and all others in the Øresund region improving significantly,” Rasmussen said.

But despite the end of ID checks, travellers to Sweden should continue to carry passports, with border control remaining in place, as noted by the Danish PM in a Twitter post.

Meanwhile, the EU Tuesday approved the extension of border controls in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Norway, with the proviso that they will likely be lifted in October.

The oft-extended emergency border controls, which were introduced in Denmark in January 2016 and have seen border police return to the frontier with Germany, may only be extended for three six-month periods, meaning that any further extension would require a new justification to be put forward by the Danish government.

“What we are proposing today is to gradually phase out temporary, internal border control while simultaneously strengthening proportional police checks across member state borders. This will be the last extension,” said EU migration commissioner Dmitris Avramopoulos, according to a report by Jyllands-Posten.

Denmark would be able to continue with border control beyond October should a serious security risk still be assessed to exist.

“It is quite simply too easy to say how things will look when we get to that stage,” immigration minister Inger Støjberg told Ritzau.

The minister did not offer any guarantee that Denmark would follow the recommendations of the EU commission over border control come October.

“I will obviously listen to the commission. But firstly, the case is that we can extend border controls by half a year, so that’s what we’ll do. When the time comes, then we’ll look at it. We cannot lift border controls if it’s still necessary to have a border control,” she said. 


Queues on Øresund Bridge as Danes return from long weekend

Danes returning from a long weekend in Bornholm and holiday cottages in Skåne caused a 2km queue on Tuesday morning, adding to Swedes' irritation at being cut out a Nordic tourism deal.

Queues on Øresund Bridge as Danes return from long weekend
There was a 6km queue after Pentecost on May 24. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT/Scanpix
Copenhagen police reported the queue in a tweet at around 8am on Tuesday.  
The temporary border checks on the small artificial island of Peberholm (Pepparholm in Swedish), where the bridge over from Sweden turns into a tunnel, makes it much slower to get across the Öresund, meaning queues build up quickly whenever there is heavy traffic. 
“The police are in place and are trying to get people through the checks as quickly as possible,” security officer Thomas Hjermind told Ritzau at 9am. “The queue is 2km long. But the traffic is moving.”
The long weekend around Whit Sunday and Whit Monday in Denmark has meant that many have travelled into Sweden — some to get the ferry across to Bornholm, others to stay in summer cottages in Skåne and elsewhere. 
Police told Ritzau that the queue was mainly formed of Danes on their way back from holiday in Sweden, together with a few Swedish cross-border workers. 
Since Denmark imposed border controls on March 14, Danes have been able to travel to Sweden unhindered while Swedes have only been allowed into Denmark if they have a “worthy purpose”. 
Danes are supposed to go into quarantine for 14 days on their return, but this is voluntary and it seems that few do. 
Last Friday, Denmark's government announced that it was ready to allow tourists from Norway, Germany and Iceland into the country, but not those from Sweden.
“It seems absolutely crazy. Total double standards,” Christer Mårtensson, 61, from Hjärup in Skåne told Denmark's BT tabloid. 
“If the authorities are so afraid of the Swedes being infected don't they think that the Danes can take the infection back with them?” he added. 
“It doesn't make sense. It's pure populism, and it seems as if Mette Frederiksen is just trying to improve her popularity on at home.” 
While Sweden as a whole has higher infection rates than Denmark, Region Skåne has a lower rate
than in Copenhagen area. 
According to Sweden's Kvällsposten newspaper, there have been 17.8 coronavirus-related deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in Copenhagen, and just 13.3 in Skåne.