Sweden and Denmark to discuss future of border controls

Sweden’s home affairs minister Anders Ygeman is meeting Danish justice minister Sören Pind Monday to discuss the future of the countries’ newly instituted border controls, but it looks like they will not be removed any time soon.

Ygeman told Swedish Radio that it will take time before the temporary ID-checks between Sweden and Denmark that were introduced in January can be dropped. However, he added that he hopes it will be possible to make the controls run smoother in order to alleviate the delays now affecting commuters between the two Scandinavian nations.

"At some point, we will have to scrap the controls, but we need to make sure that we do that in a way that does not mean a return to the situation we had before,” said Ygeman.

Ygeman added: “We have to take into account those who are currently unregistered in Germany and also how the Danish border controls work. My aim is to have a good dialogue with the Danes and for us to jointly come up with one or two measures that will improve the situation for commuters in the Öresund region."

Ygeman spoke to Swedish Radio ahead of his Monday afternoon meeting with Pind. Together, the two ministers are to inspect ID-checks at Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport as well as the border controls between Denmark and Germany.

Ygeman noted that, at the moment, the border controls take too long for the roughly 15,000 people who commute between Sweden and Denmark every day. Those who go by train have their ID cards checked once at the Kastrup airport’s station in Copenhagen and then again on the Swedish side before they reach Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city.

According to a report from the Southern Swedish Chamber of Commerce, the border controls cause delays that have knock-on effects on the region's labour market. The cost is SEK 1.5 billion per year, according to the report.

However, completely abolishing the checks is not in the cards for now, according to Ygeman, even though the number of people applying for asylum in Sweden has dropped massively compared to last year.

"There are fewer refugees coming because we introduced border controls and ID controls and because the EU has taken control over the external border,” he said.

“One important factor before we can drop or ease the Swedish controls is that this continues to work in the long term,” said Ygeman. “Another factor is that the EU’s mechanism for relocating refugees works so that we get legal routes into the EU. Otherwise, I think it will be difficult to maintain the external border in the long-term.”

Asked how long he thinks this process will take, Ygeman said he wants to wait and see what happens this spring and summer in order to evaluate how the co-operation with Turkey goes, but also in order to see what happens in Libya and the border to Italy.

"It also depends what the EU does," said Ygeman, referring to efforts to shake the Schengen agreement back into life.