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Denmark eases checks on German and Swedish borders

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Denmark eases checks on German and Swedish borders
Denmark will conduct fewer spot checks on the border with Germany as of May 12th. File photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix

A reorganisation of Danish controls on the borders with Germany and Sweden took effect on Friday.

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The changes, announced by the government last month, mean that fewer motorists will now be stopped for checks at the border when entering Denmark from Germany. Instead, border controls will be made in line with police assessments on where they are most needed.

In place since 2016, the border controls have frequently meant long queues for drivers entering Denmark from Germany as police pull aside vehicles for spot checks. Waiting times also occurred on trains.

Danish authorities say the revised border controls will reduce congestion and waiting times for commuters crossing between the two countries.

READ ALSO: German politician complains to Denmark over border control

Danish spot checks on the border with Sweden ended completely on Friday, though Sweden still carries out its own checks.

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“It’s extremely important that we crack down on people who commit cross-border crime and these new changes will mean overall that crime fighting efforts in the border regions will be strengthened,” Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said in a statement when the changes were announced in April.

Under the rules of the Schengen agreement, countries can place temporary border controls under exceptional circumstances. After a six-month period, the temporary checks must be renewed. The new border controls with Germany are therefore set to expire on November 11th.

READ ALSO: Will new Danish border controls make commuting from Germany easier?

Denmark initially introduced border checks in early 2016, citing the refugee crisis of late 2015 as justification. It later referred to a more general “security and migration situation” as cause for continually extending the controls, pointing to what it said was a threat of organised crime and terrorism.

The security controls at borders ran separately from full and partial border closures temporarily implemented and later ended during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government last month rejected criticism of the border revisions levelled by the anti-immigration parties Denmark Democrats and Danish People’s Party. The two parties said fewer spot checks on the German border represents a weakening of Danish border control.

“The National Police assessment is that the new operations will have an overall positive effect on fighting cross-border crime,” Hummelgaard said.

“So we are going to be using police resources in the border area more effectively. That is good for Danish people’s security,” he said.

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