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Gov't abandons plan to close Öresund bridge

Published tisdag 8 december 2015 kl 12.57
"It could still be necessary"
(2:12 min)
The Öresund bridge. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT.
The Öresund bridge. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT.

The government has withdrawn the heavily criticised proposal that would have given it the power to temporarily shut the bridge that links Sweden and Denmark. 

The proposal is part of a draft bill meant to give the government more tools to help manage the refugee situation in the country. On Monday the country's top legal watchdog, the Council on Legislation, issued sharp criticism of the proposal, saying that parts of the bill would violate refugees' right to seek asylum and that the text had been poorly prepared.

Since then, representatives from several political parties have spoken out against the measure, including three out of the four parties within the centre-right Alliance and the Left Party. 

Erik Ullenhag, spokesperson for the Liberal Party, tells Swedish Radio News that the measure is too drastic and that they will not vote in favour of a bill that could mean a temporary closing of the Öresund bridge.

"It seems like the proposal aims to close the border completely and that would have very serious consequences on trade and for commuters. We don't see this measure as a solution to the refugee crisis and we have been very clear about that," says Ullenhag.

The Sweden Demoracts was the only party that openly supported the measure, apart from the government.

Annika Hirvonen Falk, a spokesperson from the Green Party and the vice chair of the Justice Committee, tells Swedish Television that they are pleased that the proposal has been withdrawn.

"The Green Party never wanted this measure to begin with so we are very pleased that the government has changed its mind," says Annika Hirvonen Falk.

Even though the Green Party is part of the government it is much smaller than the other ruling party, the Social Democrats. Many of its members have previously signalled that they have been uncomfortable with some of the government's proposals concerning immigration.

Interior Minister Anders Ygeman defended the proposal Tuesday, saying that a situation could arise when shutting the bridge could help maintain public order and internal security, but he also said that being able to close the bridge is not the most important part of the bill.

"The most important thing is that we impose tighter border controls but we still believe that a situation could arise when closing the Öresund bridge could be necessary, and if the parliament does not trust the government with that power then I hope the parliament is ready to make a quick decision if worse comes to worst," Ygeman says.

A majority of the parties do, however, stand by another proposal included in the bill that would force bus, train and ferry operators to carry out ID checks of passengers travelling into Sweden. A revised version of the bill is expected to be presented to parliament tomorrow.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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